Golf: A Casual Way To Network

Two of the focuses of my blog are Business and Entrepreneurship, and Athletics and Sports. While it is known as a game that requires quite a bit of skill, the game of golf is also known to create great atmospheres for networking. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Golf: A Casual Way To Network.

* * *

When we network or socialise with other professionals, we spend time with them in order to foster good working relationships and bonds. However, this doesn’t always have to take place in a formal setting, such as at a conference, a business meeting, or a specialist networking event. In fact, networking in a more casual and non-business related environment can actually foster stronger bonds between potential business partners and collaborators, as it allows you to connect on a more personal level. Golfing with others could well prove to be a brilliant way to network efficiently and effectively.

It’s Not Too Casual

When planning alternative networking opportunities, most businesspeople will avoid sports as they generally require too much physical exertion, do not allow opportunity for conversation, and take place in extremely casual settings. Golf, on the other hand, is a professional sport held in a quiet and professional environment. This creates the perfect setting to talk, maintain composure, and incorporate a little fun into proceedings at the same time.

Be Up to Date With Current Events

When networking, it’s always good to express yourself as a knowledgeable individual. This gives others confidence in you, your professionalism, and your dedication to any project that you are involved in. So, if you are going to network while golfing, it’s generally a good idea to have a little basic knowledge in current golfing events. The infographic below by the College of Golf should help to familiarise you with some major golfing events from the past year, as well as some well-known golfers you should be aware of.


Infographic Design By College of Golf

Stories from my interview with Niagara Falls coaching legend Pat Monti from the LaSalle basketball dynasty

“People probably don’t know this, but Coach Monti is a better classroom teacher than he is a basketball coach.”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. As a part of a writing project I’m working on regarding my high school basketball experience and what it taught me about life, success and failure, I was granted an interview with Western New York coaching legend, Pat Monti who was the Architect of the LaSalle basketball dynasty. I’ve already published parts one and two of the interview, but Coach Monti blessed me with enough material for one more piece. His was unlike any interview that I’ve done up this point, in that during the interview, he told numerous ‘stand-alone’ stories in addition to the question and answer portion of our interview.

The following are the numerous stories Coach Monti told about his coaching career and the LaSalle basketball program – stories which were too long to publish in parts one and two of our interview, but which also were too valuable to not share. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Western New York basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Sections V and VI playoff programs by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones. Other pictures were generously shared by Coach Pat Monti himself. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

The Syracuse Parochial Schools

Back in Syracuse we had what we called the “Parochial” league which were ten small Catholic schools. You went to school and right across the street was a church. All we had was basketball and baseball as our sports. It was an unbelievable basketball league – phenomenal. We used to beat up on all the public schools. I went to St. Patrick’s High School in Syracuse, but there was also St. John the Baptist, the Evangelist, St. Lucy’s, Cathedral, Assumption – there were ten and none of them exist anymore obviously – they just got devoured and private education was taken over by a couple of bigger Catholic schools.

The 1975-76 Explorers – Coach Monti’s First LaSalle Varsity Team

First off, a little background how I landed the Varsity job. As you know I graduated from Niagara University in 1968 but being from Syracuse and not being local, there were politics like everywhere else, and I was unable to get my foot in the door as a coach even though I was teaching in the district. So, in 1968-69 I landed the Freshman job at St. John Neumann under Johnny McCarthy, former Buffalo Braves and Canisius College Coach. I did that for one year, and then the late Bob Laurrie who was the Varsity Coach at Bishop Duffy which became gave me a job as his Junior Varsity (JV) Coach for the next three years from 1969-72 which was great because I was close to home and LaSalle where I taught. By the way Niagara Catholic just closed its doors this summer.

Finally, after applying for years, I got hired as the LaSalle JV Coach from the 1972-73 season thru the 1974-75 season. At 29 years of age, I then landed the Varsity job at LaSalle replacing legendary coach Matt Mazza for the 1975-76 season. After coaching those previous three years as the JV coach, if memory serves me we had records of 15-3, 12-4, and 16-2. The Varsity team with most of those kids I coached on the JV were struggling big time. They lost their last seven games of the 1973-74 season and then went 0-18 in 74-75. I guess the administration had had enough after the 25-game losing streak and hired me for the 1975-76 season from a pool of quality applicants.

So obviously going into my first season I had nothing to lose, and we went 8-10 and became fairly competitive. Our starters on that first team were led by: Co-Captain Edwin Keith Ridgeway and “Buckwheat” Harris at the guards, Kevin Downey and Keith Taylor at the forwards, and Wayne Gould at center. Co-Captain Mike Roberts was the ‘sixth man’ and became the starter with Ridgeway when we lost Harris to grades. The rest of the squad was comprised of: Chris Hyla, Ricky Williams, Dan Ciszek, Mike Amato, Dan Coombs, and Alan Valentine!

We went 8-10 that 1st season and almost made the Sectionals under the leadership of seniors Ridgeway and Roberts – two very solid players and really great kids who almost immediately bought into what I was trying to accomplish with the program. With Downey and Taylor, two outstanding very strong forwards returning and many of the returning players who were juniors that first year, we went 9-8 the following season including going 8-7 in the regular season, and then winning in an upset at Amherst – the first sectional win for a LaSalle team in many years! Back then you had to qualify for Sectionals with a 0.500 or better record! We beat Amherst on the road in that 1976-77 season on a buzzer beater from Alan Valentine on a great pass from Billy Clingersmith who had come over from Niagara Falls High School that year.

It was a HUGE upset and the kids went crazy it was as if we won the Sectional Title instead of simply a first-round game! Well that was the start of it all, and the players the following years started understanding that it was all about: fundamentals, no nonsense and structure. Things at LaSalle turned around and by the 1979-80, and the 1980-81 Michael Freeney-teams, we won consecutive Niagara Frontier League (NFL) titles – the first and second of our 13 league championships. LaSalle High School basketball had arrived on the scene in Western New York after many years of mediocrity!

LaSalle’s late 1980s matchups with Christian Laettner and the Nichols School

During Christian Laettner’s (pictured) junior year which was 1986-87 – they beat us twice – both times were single digits – six to seven points, and we hung right there with them. After not losing a game his junior year, they won the Class C state title. The next year 1987-88 was his senior year. We went to Nichols’ little dingy gym in late December and I don’t know if they took us for granted which would’ve been crazy because we had everyone back, and they lost their point guard, even though they still had Laettner.

You can look back at my teams, especially when we got really good starting in the early 1980s all of the way up until the school closed – my teams were really run and dominated by guard play. We never had any size to speak of, and that year Eric Gore was probably our best player. I had to use him inside at 6’4” though he ended up playing the two-guard position in college down in Texas. We went down to their gym and blew them out. We turned their guards over and took Laettner out of the equation because their guys couldn’t get him the ball the way they needed to and I think we beat them by 17 points.

We then went on a run where we were 19-0 and they were 18-1 – we were ranked the top ‘Large School’ and they were ranked the top ‘Small School’ in the Buffalo News, and they came into our gym for the last regular season game in the Niagara Frontier League. It was unbelievable – a zoo. If you were a Junior Varsity (JV) player, you had to be crapping in your pants. The JV game started at 6 pm, and if you didn’t get into the gym at quarter to five, you didn’t get a seat – our gym held well over 2,000 people.

Everyone was there – Mike Kryzewski (Duke) and Digger Phelps (Notre Dame) – all the bigtime coaches. It was a game for the ages. I can still see it as if it was yesterday, and it was 1988. Nobody led by more than four – they didn’t take us for granted this time – they were very well coached.

It was back and forth, back and forth – just an incredible high school basketball game. I think that with about a minute or so left, we might’ve been up four. They came down, scored, called time out and cut it to two. I only had one time out left and I’ve always taught my young coaches to save your time outs for the fourth quarter. If you know, you’re going to be in a tight ballgame, don’t waste time outs. It’s amazing how simple it sounds and how important it is in coaching.

They obviously knew us inside and out, and I should have been smart enough to change our ‘press-breaker’ but I didn’t, and they pressed us. They double teamed my point guard Michael Starks – great player – 6’1” or 6’2” – really smart with the ball – a good decision maker. His brother Frank was a 6’2” 210 lb. rebounding machine but didn’t handle or shoot the ball very well. They took Michael away and Frank had the ball coming up the right side of the court across from the benches. I couldn’t get my timeout fast enough and it was so loud that the referees couldn’t hear me. I could see it coming but it was too late.

Laettner left Gore and Frank Starks is dribbling the ball above his waist – it looked like he was dribbling a beach ball. Laettner stripped him clean and went in for what would have been a thunderous dunk which would have sent the game into overtime – there were 20 seconds left at the time. He was the only guy across half court now. He looked up just as he crossed near the foul line – I think to see where he was with relation to the basket, and he kicked the ball out of bounds believe it or not.

So, I called my final timeout and drew up a different press-breaker. At the time I didn’t give it a name, but since then I called it my “One-Breaker” where my point guard takes the ball out of bounds. Because we’re leading the game, they must go trap the ball. We got the ball back into Michael Starks’ hands. He got fouled and made both shots – we beat them by four 61-57 – we went on and went 20-0, we won the Class B Sectional pretty easily, went to Rochester and won that pretty easily, and then we went to Glens Falls and beat some really, really good teams – the state’s ‘Public School’ part of it.

The 27-0 1988 Class B State and Federation Championship Team

We beat a local team out of Gloversville that had two brothers – stars and both great basketball players – one was a quarterback who I think went on to play at Boston College – one of the Boston schools for football. But they were local – right outside of Albany in the Glens Falls area. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Glens Falls to watch basketball, but the Civic Center is a beautiful venue for watching basketball – very unencumbered, no pillars in your way. It holds about 7,000 people and the place was a sea of red – Gloversville fans galore and the game went back and forth, back and forth. We ended up beating them in a tightly fought contest in overtime.

It was funny because we used to play the semifinals on Friday nights and the finals on Sunday – later in my career it was Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, our kids would go and watch the Cs, the Ds and the As, and the talk all over the Civic Center, and even the local newspapers was, “How is little LaSalle going to handle this Nottingham team out of Syracuse with Dorsey Levens?” – the great running back who would go on to star for the Green Bay Packers. He was a tremendous basketball player.

Jason Buchanan went on to star at St. John’s as a point guard. They had won something like 45 straight games, they were the defending state champions, and they were undefeated as we were so you had two great teams. We ended up beating them and people were talking as though they were going to blow us out of the gym by 30 because we barely beat Gloversville 61-60 who was good, and they crushed a team from Section XI on Long Island by 35 points.

But what they didn’t see was the real Eric Gore because he was scoring 27 points a game, and I hate to say it but against Gloversville it was a ‘home job’ – a setup, and the poor kid couldn’t breathe without being called for a foul – it was ridiculous. He finished the semifinal game zero points. He got his third foul at the start of the second quarter. I joke with my old assistant coach who is still works in the Niagara Falls school system Frank Rotundo, who coached for a while at Niagara County Community College.

Frank came down to me with about five minutes left in the game and we were up by six against this great Nottingham team out of Syracuse coached by the legendary Jim McGrath. Coach Rotundo said, “Look at Eric. His head is down at the end of the bench.” I said, “We’re doing okay.” We had Elon McCraken who played at Niagara who stepped in as a junior at Eric’s spot for me and we were handling them with no problem.

Coach Rotundo asked, “Would we be here without Eric?” It gnawed at me and gnawed at me, so I put him in. We had the game basically won. We had no shot clock back then and I ran a really good “delay and strike” game back then where we could kill the clock and surprise you with a back-door layup every once and a while.

I shouldn’t have put him back in, but I listened to my assistant whom to this day I jokingly say to Frank, “You know that’s the last time I ever listen to an assistant.” Eric having such a bad performance got in the game, turned it over, took a couple of bad shots and before you know it, here we are tied in a game that never should have been like that. It ended up going into overtime and Eric fouled out in regulation anyway.

We were down three to Nottingham with ten seconds play in regulation. We had just fouled Dorsey Levens. It was a ‘one and one’, and I called one of my timeouts. I told my players, “Okay remember the power of positive thinking,” hoping it happens but never expecting it to.

They had just instituted the three-point line. If Dorsey missed his shot, we’ll fire up the court and if we don’t get a good shot, we’ll call a time out, draw up a play and get the ball in Michael Starks’ hands. He misses it, and Frank Starks his brother gets the rebound – the player who turned it over against Laettner and Nichols. We never let him shoot it beyond eight feet because he has no touch at all. He pulls up right in front of our bench – it was almost an NBA three – nothing but net, we go into overtime and we win the game going away. It was an incredible game.

That week after we won the State Championship for the public schools, we had to go back and play for the Federation Championship. We played two really good teams out of the Public School Athletic League in New York City – Samuel Gompers and then Nazareth out of Brooklyn who had Robert Phelps who went on and started at Arizona. We beat both of them and ended up 27-0 and I still think that’s a Western New York record. We had successes before then but nothing like that.

The closing of LaSalle Senior High School and retiring

Don’t get me wrong, Niagara Falls High School was built in the 1920s and it needed to be replaced, but if it were up to me, I would’ve built Niagara Falls a new high school downtown somewhere on Main Street to try to revitalize the inner-city area there. Leave us alone and let us have the 1,200-1,250 kids like we had. That was another amazing thing in New York State – you had some of these Class A schools who had 3,000 to 4,000 students, and we had 1,250 kids when we would go to Glens Falls and play some of these schools from around the state, and some of the New York City schools.

To me building that one big mega-school with the four towers was crazy. You had teachers who didn’t like each other. You had students who didn’t like each other because of the rivalry and that’s when I retired. Niagara Falls High School has only won one New York State title in 18 years with twice the enrollment since the two schools combined in 2001. That was the year they had Paul Harris and Jonny Flynn amongst other Division I players.

Coaching at Niagara Catholic after the closing of LaSalle Senior High School

“Coach I know you’re not going to the new high school. Would you be interested in helping us out at Niagara-Catholic?” When they tore LaSalle down in 2000, that was it for me, and because my wife was still working, the President of the Board of Trustees at Niagara Catholic Judge Bobby Restino reached out to me. I was down here vacationing in my condo in Naples, FL at the time during Easter when LaSalle was closing.

“You just hired a young guy who graduated from Niagara last year, and he did an okay job for the amount of talent that he had,” I said.

“Well if we can get a Pat Monti, we’d love to have you come in,” he replied.

“You know what, when I get back from Naples Judge, I’ll sit down and talk with you,” I said.

“Your gym is atrocious. You have to renovate it,” I told him – I had some demands.

“It’s in the budget for next year,” he said.

“Well if it can be done this year, I might consider it. Plus, I’d have to bring my assistant Frank Rotundo with me, and Modie Cox,” who was helping us at the time I continued.

“Let me bring it up to the board’s attention,” he said and did, and they agreed.

We were the little guy and I’ll never forget our first time playing St. Joe’s. We had some great run ins with St. Joe’s when I was at LaSalle, but I didn’t have that kind of talent when I was at Niagara Catholic. The year before I want to say that St. Joe’s beat Niagara-Catholic by 54 points. My first year at Niagara Catholic, we lost by two and it was like we had won the freaking NCAA championship and we lost the game.

I coached there three years while my wife was still working and had a lot of fun building up the Niagara Catholic program. Matty Clingersmith who is the really good Baseball Coach at Niagara Community College now. He’s taken them to the National Junior College Tournament just about every year – last year they lost in the National Championships. He was a junior the year before I arrived and sitting the bench at Niagara Catholic. We turned him into an All-Western New Yorker his senior year – he led us in points and rebounds and I want to say that we probably went 15-5 – the year before they might’ve gone 6-14.

The only schools we lost to were the big schools. That was the last head coaching I ever did. Even though in name I’m not the Head Coach, I’ve really called a lot of the shots most of the years I’ve been coaching down here. My system is in place – a lot of the ‘gimmick’ defenses I used to use to shut down big-time scorers, we still use down here. So, I did that at Niagara Catholic and I see this year they had a really good year.

Coach Monti on what should’ve been his first State Final Four team

I’ll be honest with you, what I thought should’ve been our first Final Four team in Glens Falls was our 1983-84 LaSalle team. I had an unbelievable team I thought – no tremendous size. Joe Etopio played at the University at Buffalo (UB) – a 6’4” kid with monster hands (pictured to the left in the middle). If you got him the ball inside, he either got a layup and got fouled, or he just got fouled. I had a really good point guard, “Rockin” Rodney Ingram (pictured above to Joe Etopio’s right). That should’ve been a Final Four team but unfortunately, we just had a bad break.

We played in “The Aud’” (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) and we were leading South Park who was heavily favored by 15 points in the third quarter. Joe Etopio goes down with a horrendous “charley horse” cramp where he couldn’t even bend his leg so obviously I couldn’t play him. So, they worked on him, and worked on him, and little by little, South Park whittled the down the lead and towards the end they started fouling us – we missed so any freaking front ends of one and ones. It ended up becoming a one-point game with 15 seconds to go. I called a time out, and I asked Joe, “Do you think you can go back in and just throw a pass?” He said, “Yeah Coach I can do that.”

So just inside half court, I drew up an unbelievable ‘big box’ play with some ‘misdirects’. One of our non-scorers was Darnell Bones – a tremendous rebounder on that team and the least likely scorer out of the five starters. I ran a middle misdirect where they thought my guard was going to get the ball, but my guard basically threw a screen while my two big guys cleared out underneath. I had Joe Etopio throw a baseball pass from half court right to the rim to Darnell Bones.

To this day I can see this because there was no three-point shot at the time and I knew that if we got the ball in the backcourt they would foul us, and I didn’t want that the way we were shooting one and ones. I decided to get the three-point lead and the game would be over. With about 15 seconds to go, Joe threw a beautiful pass, the lane was totally cleared out – Rodney threw a beautiful screen on Bones who curls around, catches the ball and goes up.

Back in the day the expansions came off the floor – they’re not bolted to the ceilings the way we do it high school – they’re a little ‘loosey-goosey’. Darnell goes up and who knows why to this day – he was a strong kid at 6’2” – but instead of just laying the ball up, he slaps the backboard and the ball rolls arooound the rim and comes out. One of South Park’s many big guys – they had a big team, threw a full court pass down the left side, and this kid from South Park, their best player catches the ball on the left corner, fires it up on the buzzer and it freaking banks in and we lost by one! That should’ve been the first team to go.

On when the program became successful and point guard Tim Winn

Little by little each year, the persona of the team changed – everything was built around all of our point guards, and it culminated in the last two with Timmy Winn – he’s one of the kids we brought up as a seventh grader, an eighth grader, and then halfway through his ninth-grade season he was on the Varsity team. We went to Glens Falls all four years he played Varsity ball – I don’t know if anybody has ever done that. He played in Glens Falls four years in a row, and he was the MVP of the state tournament his junior and senior years.

He was a tremendous ‘lock down’ defender, and a scorer. His scoring was overshadowed by his defense, and he had a phenomenal career at St. Bonaventure. People think that he went to a little school – St. Bonaventure was a big-time basketball school. He was recruited by a lot of big schools. Bobby Cremins from Georgia Tech at the time which I called ‘Point Guard U’, they wanted him badly and that’s where I wanted him to go because I thought it would give him a better opportunity to play at the next level. He opted to go to St. Bonaventure because of Rob Lanier who played back in the day in Buffalo – Bob Lanier’s cousin – he’s the top assistant for Rick Barnes at Tennessee now.

He used to be with him at Texas, and I think Rob might’ve had a little coaching stint at Siena, but Timmy fell in love with him after he recruited him for Jim Barron who ended up going to Rhode Island. Timmy just like the proximity and being close to home – people could come and see him play in the “Atlantic 10 Conference” which is a good league, and Tim is now in their St. Bonaventure Hall of Fame. He played overseas, and in the old Continental Basketball Association and now he’s in Charlotte with a nice job at Wells-Fargo he’s got a nice family and is doing well.

As a matter of fact, I got inducted in my sixth Hall of Fame last December. I never even knew that Section VI had started a Hall of Fame, but somebody contacted me and said, “You know you’ve been nominated for the Section VI Hall of Fame.” I said, “What the hell are you talking about?” The person replied, “Oh about two to three years ago, they started a sports Hall of Fame and you’re going to be inducted on December 8, 2017.”

I couldn’t believe it, but Timmy drove up that morning from Charlotte to be there. Several of my former players showed up. The last year before the school closed, Dewitt Doss who starred at Canisius – a former gym teacher and now the Athletic Director in the Baltimore Public School System now – he also drove up from Baltimore to be there.

If I had my choice, I’d say give me a great point guard over a big man any day of the week at the high school level and you’ll win. That’s your coach on the floor. Point guards just step up and do the job! I saw in your article with Jason Rowe that we played Buffalo Traditional, but Timmy came up with a severely sprained ankle, and we still gave Traditional a heck of a game because of Jody Crymes and Terry Rich. I think they ended up beating us by three. At that time, those two kids were by far the two premier point guards in the area – Tim and Jason.

On Coaching and Teaching

There’s so much talent down here in Florida and I watch it and there’s no shot clock, but you can put in a 10 second shot clock the way that some of these teams play. It’s like being at the YMCA, it’s crazy – there’s hardly any real coaching going on – they just let them do what they want to do. I never allowed that. We did drills every day in practice – drill, drill, drill and drill again.

Whatever offenses or defenses we ran, we did it again, again, again and again until it became second nature. It was homework and I’d tell the kids, ‘This is what you need for tomorrow. This is your homework.’ I always used to say, ‘This is my classroom – the classroom after the classroom!’

I teared up at one of the hall of fames I got into – it might’ve been the Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Fame – one of my buddies who has since passed away, he was my presenter and the last thing he said before he called me up for my award was, ‘People probably don’t know this, but Coach Monti is a better classroom teacher than he is a basketball coach.’ That really resonated with me – it gave me goosebumps honest to God.

That’s probably why I never went to coach at college where I had some other coaching opportunities – nothing to blow your socks off, but I enjoyed the class room as much as I did the court from a teaching standpoint and that’s why I’m still doing it 50 years later – because I really enjoy sharing what I’ve learned and what I’ve been taught with these young coaches and these young players – teaching them the right way to play the game.

A special thank you is extended to Coach Pat Monti for taking the time out to discuss his story and the LaSalle basketball program. I’d also like to thank Coach Monti’s Wife Kathleen for proofreading this three-part series and polishing it up for us. In case you’ve missed them, see parts one and two of my interview with Coach Monti. Also see my interviews with legendary LaSalle point guard Tim Winn, legendary Buffalo Traditional point guard Jason Rowe, some of my personal basketball stories surrounding my book project, and a piece I wrote up regarding former college and professional basketball player Chris Herren who now tours and speaks about substance abuse and wellness for teens:

Tim Winn discusses playing point guard in the LaSalle basketball dynasty and beyond part one
Tim Winn discusses playing point guard in the LaSalle basketball dynasty and beyond part two
Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup, and State Tournaments
Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe discusses his college and professional basketball careers and coaching
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on basketball camp
Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Mean Streets: Protecting Yourself While Out & About

Two of the focuses of my blog are Athletics and Sports, and Health and Wellness. While the martial arts are competitive sports, they also help personal wellness, both physically and mentally. In some instances, it’s very valuable to know how to handle oneself in the streets should danger arise. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Mean Streets: Protecting Yourself While Out & About.

* * *

(Image Source)

While it isn’t exactly fair, a lot of people don’t feel safe when they are walking around in their home cities and neighborhoods. With violent crime on the rise in a lot of places, along with populations getting much greater, it makes sense that you might want to figure out some ways to keep yourself protected. Of course, though, handling this sort of process correctly can be incredibly hard. To help you out, this post will be exploring some of the best ways to protect yourself on the mean streets, while also making sure that you don’t break the law in the process.

Self-Defense: A lot of people think that carrying a weapon is the best way to keep on top of their need for self-defense. In reality, though, most weapons which can be effective are illegal to carry around without cause, and they can easily be turned against you if you make a mistake while using them. To overcome this issue, learning how to protect yourself by using your body can be a great route to take. Martial arts are great for this, as they will give you the chance to learn how to fight properly, while also keeping your fit and avoiding any risk of hurting someone too much. Options like Judo are perfect when you’re first starting out.

Situational Awareness: Being aware of what is going on around you is another good idea when you’re trying to protect yourself. A lot of people ignore the things around them, choosing to remain oblivious to the risks around them. This goes much further than gangs of youths and other scary people, though, with things like cars posing a big threat, too. Thankfully, to help with this, there are loads of courses out there which can be taken to help you to become more aware of your surroundings. A big part of self-defense is avoiding a fight in the first place.

Legal Support: Finally, as the last area to consider, it’s time to think about what you need to do if you ever find your protection failing, and need to take action against someone who has hurt you. Criminal justice, personal injury, and pedestrian accident attorneys can be found all over the world. Professionals like this will be able to fight on your behalf if you ever find yourself in need of legal support. To find the best options in your area, it will be worth reading some reviews, as different lawyers will have different levels of success in the areas which they work.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder on the time you put into protecting yourself in the modern world. It’s a shame that people have to take this sort of action to feel safe, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth doing. In time, places slowly get more and more peaceful, especially when political discord settles down. This means that it may only be a matter of years until you are able to confidently go about your business without these precautions in place.

Niagara Falls basketball legend Tim Winn discusses playing in the LaSalle dynasty part two

“It doesn’t matter what sport it is.  It doesn’t matter what realm of life it is, if I approach it with same approach I used on the court at LaSalle, I’m going to win.  Period.”

This is part two of my interview with legendary LaSalle Senior High School point guard Tim Winn.  In part one, we discussed his background, how he started playing basketball and how he became a LaSalle Explorer.  In part two, we talk more about playing in the LaSalle basketball program, where Tim played college basketball, the closing of LaSalle Senior High School, and finally, how basketball has changed.

The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Western New York basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Sections V and VI playoff programs by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones.  Other pictures were generously shared by Tim himself, and his Head Coach at LaSalle Senior High School, Pat Monti. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Anwar Dunbar:  So, with your team having its eyes on Glens Falls the entire time, it sounds like even though you  were getting everyone’s best shot every night, you  weren’t very concerned with any of the other Section VI teams.

Tim Winn:  Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of tough teams in Western New York, but there wasn’t one game there that was going to take us up too high, or take us down too low no matter what the results were, because our goal every year was Glens Falls.  It’s like the Cleveland Cavaliers right now.  Yes, Boston is tough, but for the Cavs it’s championship or bust.  Once you get to Glens Falls a couple of times, you’re not accepting anything else.  No matter what the ups and downs are during the year, your eyes are still on that prize, and it’s all that really matters to you.

AD:  Were there any games in Section VI that you had circled?  Niagara Falls High School, for example.  That was a ‘rivalry’ game wasn’t it?

TW:  It was a rivalry game.  It was great for the community.  You can compare it to St. Joe’s, Canisius.  For us it was a great game.  It brought the community together.  You might be playing some of the most intense basketball against one of your cousins.  You had family at both schools and everyone came out.

It was probably one of the best traditions our city doesn’t have anymore.  We looked forward to playing against St. Joe’s.  Obviously Buffalo Traditional, the team played them my senior year, but I didn’t because I sprained my ankle working on my jump shot in an open gym.  Everyone in the world was waiting to see that game.

AD:  So, Tim, what was your game?  Were you a penetrator?  Could you eventually do everything offensively?

TW:  By my senior year, I could do everything.  My staple though was defense.  I would lock anybody up – that’s just how I felt.  I was 5’9” and 165 pounds, but my heart was as big as Isaiah Thomas’.  Coach Monti put me on anybody and it didn’t matter their size – I was locking them down.  That was my greatest skill set by far, and it was probably the most aggressive part of my game for my entire career.  I didn’t develop what I would call a ‘well-rounded’ offensive game until my senior year in high school, and that’s with me averaging 23 points a game as a junior.  At that point I could get to the basket and I could shoot; whatever the game presented to me.

AD:  What kind of student were you while you were playing for LaSalle?

TW:  At LaSalle you didn’t have any choice but to be a good student.  I talked about not being able to play if you didn’t defend, but also if you didn’t go to class you couldn’t play.  Coach Monti had a program that really set you up for life and for me that was a really big deal.  From the start I was wondering what I would have to do to get into college.  From the start it was like, ‘You’re going to take this level of classes, we’re going to have progress reports every five weeks for everybody, and if you don’t perform academically, you can forget about it.’

It didn’t matter who you were, you were held to these standards and there was no favoritism.  You were going to walk a certain way, and you were going to carry yourself a certain way in the classroom.  School was going to be more important than any state championship, and if not, then it may not have been the program for you.

AD:  So Coach Monti was actively monitoring your grades then?

TW: Everything.  He monitored how many steps you took down one hallway.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me – to have someone care about your development that much as a young man.  It wasn’t just about basketball – he treated all of his players like family – like his sons.

AD:  Was there a particular quote he used to tell the team regularly?

TW:  No, there wasn’t necessarily a quote as much as it was a philosophy.   You just knew when you were dealing with him, you had no choice but to walk the straight and narrow.  There is a lot of structure that young men need that a lot of them don’t get these days.  You knew that if you weren’t handling your business in the classroom, you had a problem on your hands and you did not want to make it to his classroom.  That type of program for me and my teammates was everything.  You still hear guys talking about it right now, ‘If Coach Monti was here, if Coach Monti was in the Falls,’ just because of what it did for us.

AD:  When did the colleges start recruiting you?

TW:  I think I started getting recruited in my sophomore year.  During my sophomore year all the local schools started recruiting me.  The summer after my sophomore year, after we made it back to Glens Falls, it picked up because I went to a couple of camps where I did pretty well.  I’d say beginning to mid-sophomore year and onward.

AD:  Which schools came calling?

TW:  I turned down Syracuse and Georgia Tech.  Amongst my circle, we still talk about it all the time.  I was ‘signed, sealed and delivered to Syracuse,’ but the young and naïve me not having anyone else in my family who went through the experience, I pulled out of it at the last minute.  I remember being at the State Fair in Syracuse and I was supposed to go verbally commit.  My friend, Romell Lloyd, went the next year and Malik Campbell (Turner/Carroll, pictured below in the All-Western New York photos) was at the Fair at the same time.  We were all supposed to go, but I pulled out at the last minute.

AD:  Why didn’t you go?

TW:  It was a last-minute change of heart.  Rob Lanier had watched some of my games at the ABCD Camp and I told him that I was still open, and then St. Bonaventure started recruiting me.

AD:  Did you talk to Coach Monti about it?

TW:  I didn’t and that was the young me.  I didn’t tell anybody about it.  He’s from Syracuse and I know for a fact he wouldn’t have let me pull out of going to Syracuse.  It’s one of those things.  I don’t have regrets now, but as an older man, sometimes I think about it.

AD:  So you went to St. Bonaventure.  I remember seeing you on TV.  What was it like playing at St. Bonaventure?

TW:  Anytime you go to college and away from home, there’s going to be an adjustment.  I sold my family on my not going to Syracuse and going to St. Bonaventure instead by telling them that, ‘I can go to Syracuse and be expected to win 20 games every year, right?  I can win 20 games there and go the NCAA Tournament and I’m just one of the guys.  St. Bonaventure hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in 30 years, and if I can get them there, I’ll be a legend.’  It meant more to me to leave that type of legacy behind.

AD:  Did you play all four years?  And did you make it into the NCAA Tournament?

TW:  We made it my senior year.  We played Kentucky in the opening round.  It went into double overtime.

AD:  What Kentucky team was it?  Was it one of Rick Pitino’s teams or was it one of Tubby Smith’s teams?

TW:  It was one of Tubby Smith’s teams.  They had Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, Jamaal Magloire – those guys.

AD:  By the time you were a senior were you leading the Bonnies in scoring or assists?

TW:   I think my junior and senior years I was leading my team in scoring, assists and steals.  In my junior year, I was second in the nation in steals behind a guy named Shante Rogers from George Washington University.

AD:  So you said you learned the most basketball at LaSalle.  Was it an easy transition to go play for Jim Baron at St. Bonaventure?

TW:  It was.  The only adjustment was getting ‘college-strong’, getting my body on the level.  There wasn’t anything that I wasn’t prepared for, so it was just a matter of getting up under one of those weight programs and getting my body to catch up with my mind.

AD:  What did you major in at St. Bonaventure?

TW:  Marketing.

AD:  Beyond the college level, did you play any professional basketball?

TW:  I pretty much played in the minor leagues over here.  I played in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and the American Basketball Association (ABA ), and then I played in Germany, France, Venezuela, Canada, England – so I’ve been around a little bit.

AD:  I know a highlight for Jason was playing against Allen Iverson.  Were there any particular matchups that stand out to you?

TW:  Tim Hardaway and I were teammates for an All-Star game in the ABA.  For me, Tim Hardaway is a pretty big deal.  I’ve played with Olden Polynice.  I’ve also played with Keith Claus.  I’ve played a bunch of guys who played in the NBA, who came down to the minor leagues.

AD:  How many years did you play Pro-ball?

TW:  I stopped playing in 2007, so about seven years.  I could’ve kept playing, but I chose a ‘regular’ life to put that degree to work.

AD:  Were you getting tired of all the travel?  The sleeping in hotels?

TW:  It’s very tiring.  The minor leagues are a year-round job and there’s really no offseason.  It gets tiring after a while.  You don’t have the NBA’s budget to take care of your body so it got taxing after a while.

AD:  What career did you settle into when you left basketball?

TW:  I was the Vice-Principal in a school in Buffalo called “Sankofa Charter School”.  That came through a basketball connection.  I did an appearance at the school.  The kids liked it, and I was asked to become the Dean of Students which was the equivalent of being the Vice-Principal in the charter school environment.  I did that for a couple of years and the school closed.  Then I moved my family to Charlotte, NC.

AD:  Are you still involved in the game in any way?  Are you coaching an AAU team?  Do you still compete in any way?

TW:  It’s crazy.  I’m cold turkey.  I’ve been asked on numerous occasions to help coach AAU.  Jeff Bishop is down here and he’s asked me on several different occasions to help him out with his AAU program.  My son plays baseball and is nine years old, so I really don’t have the time to dedicate to something on that level.  I wouldn’t want to cheat a group of kids by me not being there consistently.  I don’t play at all and all I have left are old stories (laughing).

AD:  Interesting.

TW:  And I’m cool with it.

AD:  Yes, it sounds like you’ve done just about everything with basketball.  Going back to the LaSalle days, do you remember what your best game was?  Was it one of the state tournament games?  Was it one of the Niagara Falls games?

TW:  It was a bunch of games.  Locally, I gave Turner/Carroll 39 points, and that’s a big deal because Antoine Sims was always a great competitor and to have a great game against Turner/Carroll and that caliber of player, it’s going to stay with you for a while.  I had 52 points in a game which broke Carlos Bradberry’s record; regarding records that was a big deal.  My senior year in Glens Falls in the semifinal game, I scored 35 points.  We were down big in the fourth quarter and then scored 39 points as a team to come back and win to advance.  It was a big stage and that was against Hempstead who beat us when Carlos was a senior, so it was a little bit of payback.

AD:  Of all four of your years, was there one that was your favorite?

TW:  Easily.  It was my junior year by far.  We had a three-guard lineup and as humble as I can be in saying this, there was not another guard combination in Western New York who could stop  us.  You don’t really feel it when you’re in it, but now that I’m older and I’m watching the tapes, it’s just unreal to watch that team and those three guards – me being one of them.

You couldn’t key on me because Jody Crymes would give you 20 points.  You couldn’t key on Jody because Terry Rich would give you 20 points.  We were a well-oiled machine, and I think all three of us had over 100 steals apiece that season.  It was a lot easier than my senior year.

AD:  And you guys were able to nullify any height advantage your opponents had?

TW:  That was our thing.  You might have height, but could you run?  And then, can your guards get you the ball?  We didn’t lose sleep playing guys who had players 6’8” because the chances of them getting the ball over half court were slim to none.

AD:  Was there anything that surprised you during your time at LaSalle?

TW:  I didn’t really know how to score until I played alongside Carlos Bradberry (pictured to the left).  Prior to that, all I did was steal a bunch of different skill sets from a bunch of different players who came before me.  I put my attitude and personality behind me, figured out where I still had weaknesses and worked on it.  Playing with Carlos my freshman year, taught me how to score; just watching how he would get buckets.

I may be the all-time leading scorer in LaSalle’s history, but I had 500 steals.  Carlos had at least 1,600 points, but they were straight buckets.  I keep mentioning Modie Cox – knowing that he’s in the program and living a couple of houses down from me as well – being able to watch that and watch him lead a team as a young kid meant a lot.  In my junior year, we were in the semifinals in Glens Falls.  Jody Crymes came down on four different possessions and scored.  I’ve never been in a game where someone else besides me said, ‘We’re not losing today.’  It was one of the ‘awe-moments’ for me.

AD:  I remember trying out for the Empire State Games in my sophomore year.  Jody (pictured to the left) showed up with Curtis Ralands.  I was on Jody’s team before the first cut.

He was lightening quick, and on one play he penetrated down the lane and I followed him down the lane looking to get a potential offensive rebound.  He threw a no-look pass behind his head to me, and I didn’t expect it so it sailed right passed me.  He turned around and looked me with an expression like, ‘What happened?’  I wasn’t used to playing with that caliber of player, and you guys played at that high level, and I can only imagine the three of you on the floor at once.

You went to Glens Falls all four years.  For kids who never went, what’s the experience like?

TW:  I guess when you win a lot, you don’t know what it’s like to not be in the environment that you’re in.  I never experienced a down-time or a losing situation.  To not know what it’s like to be in front of a packed house, to not be in the hotels, to not go to Glens Falls, I’ve never experienced that.  Not going would’ve been a failure for us.  So, for me it was what we were supposed to do, and it was how we were supposed to be treated.  The message was, when you win, this is how it’s supposed to go.

AD:  That’s fascinating because there were many kids who were happy just to qualify for the sectionals, but for you and your team it was getting to and winning in Glens Falls.  Otherwise, it wasn’t a successful season.  So, there’s something here about where you set your sights and what you shoot for.

TW:  If we had lost in the sectionals it would’ve been the biggest tragedy for our program ever.  Once we beat the Rochester team my freshman year (McQuaid Jesuit) in the Far West Regional, it moved to that, and I felt like we were never not going to play in this game.  We knew what it felt like to win that game, and we knew what defeat felt like because John Wallace’s team (Greece-Athena) beat us the year before.  Being an eighth-grader and being exposed to that game, I felt like one day I would be the guy to lead us.

AD:  There are whole generations of kids who know nothing of the LaSalle Explorers except in legends and old wive’s-tales.  Where were you when you heard that they were going to close and demolish LaSalle Senior High School?  How did you feel when you heard it?

TW:  I’m still in disbelief.  So much tradition came through there, and so many success stories; not just basketball, but in general.  Imagine that you buy a house and it’s in your family for 30-40 years and then you come home and the house is torn down.  It felt like they tore down the house that’s been passed down for generations in our family.

I’m also bothered by the fact that when they combined the schools, Pat Monti wasn’t named the Head Coach of the Varsity program.  That let me know that there is a gift and a curse to winning all the time.

AD:  Okay, we’re speculating here, but does that mean there was some sort of conspiracy to keep Coach Monti out?

TW:  It’s all politics.  How does the best basketball coach in Niagara Falls history not get that job?  He was the best coach to come through the city, one of the best coaches in Western New York.  He’s in four to five different halls of fame.  It’s one thing to close the school down, but to bring politics into the equation and not give him the next job?  It wouldn’t have hurt as much if he had gotten the next job because the tradition would have still been in the city.  Since LaSalle closed, there’s only been on state champion out of Niagara Falls, and that’s when my little cousin Paul Harris and those guys won it.

That’s the only state championship since we closed.  But if you look at the rosters at Niagara Falls High School since LaSalle closed, they should have at least six or seven state championships.

AD:  We can keep this off the record, but do you think there were parties that were looking at all of Coach Monti’s success and felt that you all had an unfair advantage, or were they just ready to see the brown and gold go away?

TW:  As great as Coach Monti was, the people he beat up on all the time didn’t like him.  Imagine being beat for years.  Just think about our rivalry with Niagara Falls High School.  I think we won 40 or more straight games from the late 1980s until the school closed.  All of the coaches and superintendents who are responsible for the new school opening were not going to let him be the coach after kicking their asses for all of those years.

AD:  Well I did ask Coach Monti that – were all the other coaches happy to see you go once word got out?  He laughed.  We have a few more questions, Tim.  How have players changed since the days you were at LaSalle.  I hear they have ‘trainers’ now, and Jason Rowe said everything is on social media.  How has basketball changed?

TW:  Winning has taken a backseat to stats.  It no longer dominates the emotion and I don’t know when it went out of style.  Your stat-line dictates everything nowadays.

In the past, winning dictated everything.  You see a ton of players who don’t know how to play the game.  Because winning doesn’t dominate the emotion anymore, it’s hard to call a kid on it.  When winning doesn’t come first, it’s hard to complain about anything a kid does in a game.  To me, that’s the biggest difference between now and back then.

Jason and I spent a lot of time together back then.  I knew what it meant to him to win.  Triple-doubles aside, to not win – we’re from that era where winning was everything.  Yes, I had 40 points, but we won.  That dominated everything for us.  You worked on your jump shot so you could win.  You worked on your handle so you could win.  Everything was set up so you could be better placed to win the following year.

When Jason and his team weren’t winning the Rochester game, I know that he and “Mush” (Damien Foster, pictured below) went to work in the summer so they could win that game.  They didn’t go to work so they could come back and average 25 and 30 points – it was time to win a state championship.  There’s enough talent back home where they should be winning on a high level, but you can’t make kids approach it like that.

AD:  You know they say kids today are softer, they don’t communicate the same way.

TW:  Everyone is friends and that’s one of my biggest pet peeves.  I love Jason and he’s my guy. We’ve been friends since he was little.  I swear to you that when it came to “checking the ball up”, he was my worst enemy.  There’s something missing in competition these days.

If you put Jason and me in this era, I don’t think we would be as good.  I’m talking about mentally, because we would’ve been too cool with each other.  Talent-wise we would’ve killed this day and age, but I think one of the best things we had in us was that we were fierce competitors, would go to war with each other and literally go get a burger later.

AD:  So, Tim, is this kind of a LeBron JamesKevin Durant type of thing where it’s okay to go make a team versus building your own?

TW:  Yep, it is.  It always starts at the top.  The players these kids look up to are  all friends.  Kevin Durant and LeBron James are really, really good friends.  For me, I could never be that good a friend with someone to where it would impact my approach on the court.  It didn’t matter who you were, I wanted to go through you on the court; family included, friends included.  It didn’t matter; my mother couldn’t get a bucket on me.

Again, it’s different eras, and just like Jason (pictured with Tim to the left) said, with the impact of social media, it’s required for you to have personality.  Everyone wants to be cool now and it’s just completely different than when we were young.  At that time your game spoke for you.  You didn’t need social media.  You didn’t have to talk anywhere else.  When you were on the court, it was ‘Check it up.  Check ball!’  There was no greater voice than ‘Check ball!’

AD:  Alright, two more.  For youngsters aspiring to play basketball or to pursue any other life goal, what advice would you give them?

TW:  If you’re serious about it, treat it like a job.  Go to work every day.  There’s a ton of kids who have trainers, and to me that work ethic is missing in today’s kids.  You know which kids are working from a mile away.  If it’s something that you’re serious about dive in, dive all the way in.  Don’t dive halfway in and want all the results.  There are a lot of kids who will give you 15% effort, but want 120% back in terms of the results.  It doesn’t work that way and this is a game you really, really must go to work for.

AD:  So do you think it’s unusual that they would need trainers?

TW:  I think it all depends on whose hands you’re in.  To me that’s everything.  There are a million trainers now, a million guys like Jason Rowe and Mark Price.  I would send my kids to them because I know where they’re from.  I know them personally and I know their games and their resumes, so I don’t have to question what they’ll do for my kid.

One of my biggest pet peeves is kids can’t workout unless they have a trainer.  Whatever happened to dribbling the ball down the street to the park?  Kids won’t just go to the gym and play pickup ball anymore and that’s the era that we live in.

AD:  Wow.  That is strange.

TW:  I’ll ask kids, ‘Are you working out?’  They’ll say, ‘I’m trying to get a trainer.’  No!  Whatever happened to just getting your ball and dribbling down the middle of the street?  One, two, three between the legs.  One, two, three between the legs and crossover.  I’m all for trainers getting their money, but I must know that it’s on the level of a Jason or Mark training them.

AD:  Okay, the last question.  What did playing at LaSalle for St. Bonaventure and then playing professionally teach you about life and success?

TW:  For me it was one thing playing in that program.  It taught me how to be a young man, and the success of the program made me feel like I could do anything.  I don’t know losing, so I approach everything the same way I approached those games back then.  I expected to go to Glens Falls, so when I’m in a job interview now, I expect to win.

I’m currently at Wells Fargo on the technology side and I expect to win.  Playing for LaSalle, I’ve carried myself a certain way all my life because of that experience.  It’s confidence, it’s borderline cockiness sometimes.

I always believe that if I approach it with the right work ethic, then it’s game over.  It doesn’t matter what sport it is.  It doesn’t matter what realm of life it is.  If I approach it with same approach I used on the court at LaSalle, I’m going to win.  Period.

And you can ask any of the teammates that I’ve had.  It’s just something that’s in you.  It just did something to us as kids.  We just always believe that we’re going to be alright.

AD:  Well Tim, that’s all I’ve got, unless you have any other comments or stories, thank you for telling your story.

TW:  It’s been an honor to speak on this.

A special thank you is extended to Tim Winn for taking the time out to discuss his story and the LaSalle basketball program.  In case you missed it, see part one of our interview.  Also see parts one and two of my interview with legendary LaSalle Head Coach Pat Monti, my interview with legendary Buffalo Traditional point guard Jason Rowe, some of my personal basketball stories surrounding my book project, and a piece I wrote up regarding former college and professionals basketball player Chris Herren, who now tours and speaks about substance and wellness for teens:

• Niagara Falls coaching legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
• Niagara Falls coaching legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part two
• Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup, and State Tournaments
• Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on three years of basketball camp
• Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment.  To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader.  Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76.  While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Sport Could Change Your Life: How Do You Plan On Letting It Change Yours?

Two of the focuses of my blog are Athletics and Sports, and Health and Wellness. In addition to teaching life lessons through competition, sports are overall good for our quality of life. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Sport Could Change Your Life: How Do You Plan On Letting It Change Yours?

* * *

Let’s get a little serious for a moment, shall we? Sport can honestly change your life, but how it changes it is entirely up to you. We see so much online and in print about how exercise and perhaps even taking part in sports is so good for you. Not just physically, but mentally as well, but yet many of us will still openly admit that sport or physical exercise is not a part of our normal routine. I wanted to share with you some of the ways that you could introduce sport or physical exercise into your life and how those ways could really transform the way you live and think. It sounds dramatic, but it is true. Here are my suggestions.

Image source

Play a sport and get involved with a team or class

One of the first things you could try would be to find yourself a local class or team in the sport you want to play and just have the courage to get involved. It may sound difficult at first to overcome such a mental fear as this, which is on the same lines of stepping out of your comfort zone, but it could make the world of difference. Being part of a team also gives you that social aspect, which can add to the enjoyment and even give you the chance to make some new friends.

Watch a sport live and feel the adrenalin

At first, just join a team or even doing something yourself may feel like a big step to take, so actually being a spectator of sport can give you the inspiration and motivation to get started yourself. Seeing a hockey game live and buying tickets, or attending your first ever football game, it can give you a new sense of passion for the sport as well as the motivation to start out yourself.

Get yourself a pet dog

Maybe you just need a reason to be more active, and one of the best things to do is walking. Buy walking yourself may feel a little overbearing, so having a dog to do it with you could be the ideal way to start being more active on a day to day basis. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise to take, believe it or not, and it can actually be a great way to build up fitness levels and confidence.

Set yourself a challenge or target to achieve

Finally, why not set yourself a goal or a challenge to get started with? This could be a great way for you to start feeling motivated about taking part in specific sports or exercises. Having a big goal is great, but don’t forget to set yourself smaller targets along the way to help you along the way. This really helps you to stay motivated on track.

So there you have it, my thoughts on how sport could change your life. However you choose to enjoy it, I hope you start to notice some of the differences yourself.

Niagara Falls coaching legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part two

“It’s a great game. I love the game because there are so many facets to it – it’s so exciting and you’re teaching life skills in a sports-setting in my opinion.”

This is part two of my interview with legendary LaSalle Senior High School Head Basketball Coach Pat Monti. In part one, we discussed his background, and how he built the LaSalle basketball program. In part two, we discuss more aspects of coaching, memorable games, notable opposing players and coaches, and his coaching career after LaSalle closed. We end by acknowledging the hardworking staff of the Buffalo News who covered the Explorers and Section VI basketball throughout Coach Monti’s tenure as the Explorers’ leader on the bench.

The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Western New York basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Sections V and VI playoff programs, by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones. Other pictures were generously shared by Tim Winn, and Coach Monti himself. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Anwar Dunbar: In the late 1980s, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News wrote a story saying that the Niagara Frontier League (NFL) officially had surpassed the Yale Cup as the best league in Western New York. Was that due to you guys or were the other teams in the NFL very competitive as well?

Pat Monti: No, I think it was just the great rivalries. Kenmore West had Dick Harvey who was a tremendous basketball coach (pictured to the left). I got into the New York Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, and I think Dick got in a little bit after me.

You had a couple of really, really good coaches at Lockport High School like Dick Crossett while I was still coaching. North Tonawanda always had a solid program. The NFL was really, really good. I don’t think it was just LaSalle. Niagara Falls always had talent. Kenmore West was the team we wanted to beat in the mid-1980s when we started getting really good.

AD: During that 10-year stretch when you guys consistently won the Section VI Class A championship, can you talk about the yearly matchups with the Rochester schools?

PM: Oh yeah. We went up against McQuaid a couple of times, East High School a couple of times – East was supposed to blow us out every time we played them because they had so much more size. The Greece-Athena matchup was really unfortunate. I wish New York State did what they do down here in Florida. In Florida, they don’t call them “Sectionals”, they call them “Districts”.

When you play in your District championship game, win or lose, you’re not out of the tournament. The winner hosts the loser from the District next to you, and your District loser goes to play the other winner so that the two teams could end up meeting again to see who advances to the Final Four. The game with Greece-Athena was unbelievable. We just had no answer for ‘DA MAN’, John Wallace (pictured to the left).

AD: Yes, I remember he actually did have that cut onto the back of his head for that game (laughing). Well it was close for first half and then it slowly slid away from you guys in the second half and –.

PM: No, it was close for three quarters! It was tied after three quarters, but we just had no answer for him. We kept the game under control as much as we could as a low scoring game, but we just couldn’t stop him inside. We were both undefeated at the time.

AD: Yes, they called the game “The Meeting of the Perfect Strangers” as you were both amazingly 23-0 going into that matchup.

PM: They not only won the Public School title easily, but they won the Federation also. Think about it – they struggled with us. Had we had another opportunity, you never know what would’ve happened. It was just a shame that the two teams had to meet each other before the Final Four. I went to the states that year as a spectator as I did most of the time when we didn’t make it ourselves.

The guys at the Glens Falls Civic Center loved us. We never had to get tickets or ribbons – we used to just go in where the players’ entrance was, and these guys would welcome us with open arms because the guys who ran the place just loved the style we played – the unselfish basketball and the way we played defense – we were always undersized, but we never, ever gave in. It could very well have been the state championship game – us vs. Greece-Athena. John Wallace obviously went on to have a great career at Syracuse and after that.

AD: Of LaSalle’s many berths to Glens Falls, are there any memories that stand out to you?

PM: We had some unbelievable runs in Glens. One year we played Hempstead – a powerhouse from Long Island – a much bigger school than us. It might’ve been the year after Jody Crymes and Terry Rich graduated – it might’ve been 1996, Timmy’s last year.

I was told by some people who had scouted them, ‘There’s no way that you can play this team man to man. I know that man is your dominant defense though you do play some zone, but if you play man against them, they’ll just kill you inside.’ They had two brothers that were going to play at Rhode Island – dunking machines – 6’8” guys, the Bell brothers.

Hempstead had us down by 15 points at the half, and I was playing zone because I was told that there was no way I’d be able to match up with them. I went against the voice in my head which said to go with what got us there, so I played my 1-3-1 matchup zone and they just got too many easy baskets and our pressure wasn’t good enough. At the start of the fourth quarter, we were down by 13 and I said, ‘Screw it. Let’s go back to our “Run and Jump” 1-2-2 full court press and see what happens.’ I believe we still hold the state record for points scored in a quarter in a finals championship game. We scored 39 points in an eight-minute quarter, turned them over, and over, and over again and we ended up beating them by 12 points.

AD: Wow.

PM: In hindsight you say, ‘Dammit I wish I hadn’t listened to those people who gave me all of that scouting information. I should’ve just gone with what got us there, but you live and learn. And that’s the thing as a coach, anyone who tells you it’s their thing is crazy because we all steal from each other, or we all share with each other. Even after 50 years of coaching, if I see something I’ll say, ‘Hey that’s going to work with the team we’ve got this year at Gulf Coast High School or Naples High School,’ the two places I’ve coached down here.

That’s what you’ve got to do as a coach, you’ve got to give your kids the opportunity to win, by putting them in position to win, depending on who your opponent is. So, do I prefer man to man? Of course. But do I play a lot of zone? Sure. If I think a team is going to run up and down the court and jump over the top of me, and I don’t think I can match up with them athletically, I’m going to zone them. It’s just the way of life.

Maybe the best example of that is after we won the states in 1988. We weren’t supposed to win the Niagara Frontier League in 1989, but Elon McCracken (pictured to the left) – the experience he had helping us with the state title in 1988 and the cast of characters around him – we not only won the NFL, but we won Section VI again, and then a supposed upset over McQuaid. We then won our first game in the state semifinals against Long Island-Lutheran that had this Vasil Eftimov that played at the University of North Carolina. The guy was a beast – he still owns the record for rebounding in the state tournament, but he was 6’11”.

I played a ‘slowdown’, very smart game and we beat them by a couple of points and kept it in the 40s. The year after that, we were supposedly an even lesser team and we won the league again, and we won the section again. We played East High School out of Rochester with their old coach Sal Rizzo. Our biggest kid was 6’3” who came over from Bishop Duffy/Niagara Catholic, Duke Davis. Who else was on that team? Milo Small? I think Modie, maybe Carlos Bradberry, a really good guard –.

AD: Did Carlos have an older brother named Cazzie?

PM: Yeah Cazzie was a year older than Carlos (pictured to the left). Cazzie was a forward, a solid player who played for me. Carlos was younger – more of a ballhandler and a big guard and could score. As a matter of fact, Carlos was the school’s leading scorer until Timmy came along. Timmy ended up being the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Anyway, we were playing East High and they had six guys 6’6” or bigger. We had one 6’3” guy – chunky Duke Davis (pictured in the gold shirt below). I had one week to prepare for the Far West Regionals and I put in “delay and strike” game – I said I’m going to keep this game in the 40s and it’s the only chance we’re going to have to win because if we run up and down with this team, we won’t have a chance because they had good guards too. That’s why I said you’ve got to do what’s best for your team and not be hard headed and knuckleheaded and think, ‘This is the only way that we play.’ To me you’re doing your kids a disservice. But that game with East High, do you know what the final score was?

AD: What?

PM: It was 36-33 in triple overtime (laughing).

AD: So, you guys did really slow it down.

PM: Well what was great was that Sal Rizzo who was the nicest guy you’ll ever want to meet, God rest his soul – I honestly don’t think he knew a lick about the game of basketball. He had so much talent year in and year out – he should’ve been in the Far West Regionals every year – that’s how talented East High was. He got so ticked off because the score at halftime was something like 17-15. He came out at halftime and came over to me and said, ‘What are you doing? This isn’t basketball!’ I said, ‘Coach, I’m doing the only thing I can do to give our team a chance to win!’ He said, ‘Well two can play that game Coach!’ And guess what he started doing –.

AD: He started delaying the ball?

PM: He started delaying the ball! (laughing). I said to my assistants, ‘Oh my God. Can you believe this? He’s playing right into our hands!’

So, it’s a great game. I love the game because there are so many facets to it and it’s so exciting. You’re teaching life skills in a sports setting in my opinion. If you looked at my contacts in my phone, probably more than half of them are our former players. It’s those relationships you make – I mean some of them still call me, ‘Dad.’ My wife and I weren’t fortunate enough to have children, and it’s funny when people ask, how many grandchildren we have, my wife will say, ‘Oh we don’t have any children or grandchildren, but we have hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds of sons and daughters,’ from my teaching and coaching.

AD: When your LaSalle teams advanced to the Far West Regionals, how were you able to scout your opponent from Rochester, if at all? Your Final Four opponents?

PM: We usually got to see our opponent one way or another. Sometimes my staff and I would head to Rochester for their semifinal games when and if they were being played on different nights than ours. Also, sometimes their Finals were on different nights than ours – either Friday or Saturday. There were sometimes when we had to send someone to scout for us if we were playing our Semifinals or Finals at the same time as the Section V schools were out in Rochester.

One way or the other I always made sure that we had adequate information on whomever we were to play. I was and still am a firm believer in deep and thorough scouting of any of our opponents no matter how strong or weak I thought they may be! There’s a very old adage which says, ‘leave no stone unturned,’ and it was a real belief of mine in preparing our team for battle!

AD: What did the LaSalle players do in the offseason? Did they play in camps? Did they play in leagues?

PM: Back in the day there was nothing like there is today with this crazy traveling all over the country – this AAU stuff. They have this great thing down here in Florida. Do you know how in college football they have spring practice and they have a spring inter-squad game? Unless you’re Michigan and you go to Rome or Paris (laughing).

In Florida, football rules and basketball takes a second seat unfortunately. Several years ago, they let them start practicing in May – right now they’re practicing – real football. The first week, no pads, just a helmet, and they walk through stuff and do cardiovascular training. The last three weeks they have full equipment, tackling and everything and then by the end of the month they play a game against another high school that they won’t be playing in the regular season.

I guess the basketball coaches approached the state and said, ‘Hey, we know that we’re second class citizens but we’re a pretty important sport too. Can we do something like that?’ So down here in June, you can coach your own kids in your own gym with your own gear, and then every weekend, there’s a tournament somewhere around the state.

They usually have 16 teams and they break you up into pools of eight. Over the weekend if you make it to the championship, you can play as many as four games on the last day which you play from Friday to Sunday where No. 1 from this side will play No. 8 from that side and so on, so you can play as many as 6-7 games on a weekend. So that’s what’s big down here even though they also still do the AAU thing which is going on right now. Come June, there’ll be actual basketball practice going on which is really great.

Back in my day there was no AAU though there was ‘traveling’ basketball and my better players played on what I would call more ‘All-Star’ teams. There was a guy – Mickey something out of Syracuse – he picked up Timmy one year and he picked up Modie another year. They’d travel around Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York in probably what is now AAU basketball. I myself used to put our team in summer leagues. Based upon the rules I couldn’t coach them, so I’d have one of my unpaid assistants – a player or a parent who knew the game and I would come and watch.

You wanted them to be thinking the game 24-7, 12 months a year but I was a firm believer in pushing my kids to play another sport. Down here in Florida it’s a shame. There are really good baseball players would could be good basketball players. There are some tremendous football athletes who would be phenomenal basketball players. But down here the coaches don’t get along with each other and they have the tendency to almost threaten their players saying things like a, ‘Well if you do that, then you’re not going to do this,’ type of thing.

I was the opposite. I wanted my kids to play a second sport for two reasons. Most of them were inner-city kids and I knew where they were – they weren’t running the streets if you know what I mean. It also kept their grades up because you had to have a certain average to stay eligible.

So, I used to push my basketball players and say, ‘If you want to play football, go play football. Go run track.’ A couple of them used to run Cross Country to get into cardiovascular shape in the fall for basketball. So, I always pushed them to do another sport, and they don’t do that enough anymore. They get them too isolated into the one thing and I personally don’t like that myself, but it is what it is.

AD: Are the kids different today than they were 20-30 years ago?

PM: Oh God. Are you kidding me? Of course. Absolutely.

AD: Are they less tough?

PM: There’s a lot more entitlement. I don’t know why. Maybe not up there, I haven’t been up there in a while – maybe 15 years. I hear from people about how bad the NFL is now. I hear about how bad the Catholic league is except for a couple of schools. Ritchie Jacobs used to be one of my assistants. He called me before he was playing Canisius the second and third time – I guess they got throttled by them the first time they played this year.

He called me and picked my brain for a good 40 minutes asking, ‘Coach what do I do about this? How do I do this? I’ve got this guy who can do this –.’ Over the phone I said, ‘Get your white board out – this is what I think you should do –.’ Then he turns around and wins the whole thing.

My tree has grown exponentially and it’s fun to have these young guys still contacting me. One of our LaSalle super fan’s brother coaches his son’s 10-year old team – they live in Mississippi or Alabama or something. He said, ‘Coach, my brother wants to contact you. Is it okay if I give him your number? He’s got this pretty good little 10-year old team but there’s this one team they can’t beat because they have one kid who scores three quarters of their points and you always run that gimmick defense. Do you think 10-year olds can do that?’

‘Anybody can do it if it’s taught properly,’ I said. So the brother of Dave Universal, this super fan and one of my former students, Dan Universal calls me and with pen and paper out, and I explained to him what I do when I want to, ‘chop the head off of the monster,’ so to speak. He got a hold of me a week later and said, ‘Yeah we beat them. We held that kid to six points,’ and he was so excited. He says, ‘Your thing works.’

‘It’s amazing more people don’t do it. You can’t do it if you’ve got a team that’s got two or three monsters. But if you’ve got one guy who’s primarily the ballhandler and also a scorer-facilitator and kind of the team leader – if you can take him away the right way, the rest of the guys get rattled, they don’t know what to do, and they shoot the ball differently than if he were involved,’ I said. I’ve proved it down here twice. We played two private schools down here – ritzy schools kind of like Nichols is or was. One of them called the “Community School of Naples” costs $22,000 a year to go there believe it or not.

AD: Wow.

PM: They had a kid who was averaging 23 points a game. Just the week before they were being touted in the newspapers here as “the best local high school basketball team”. The team I was coaching at Gulf Coast High School, we were pretty good – we had only lost one game locally. The other losses were to big teams out of Miami and Tampa. I had a week to put in my gimmick defense which held Lamar Odom to 7 points, and Stephon Marbury to 11 points. We put it in, and this kid from this Community School of Naples only scored 1 point. It’s effective if you don’t have too many monsters, but you can’t do it all the time.

AD: Would the LaSalle dynasty have gone on had the school not closed?

PM: Oh absolutely, and I probably would’ve gone on myself another five years or so. Who knows, some people say that if it were still open, I’d be coaching now at 71 going on 72 years of age. I ask them, ‘What are you crazy?’ I enjoy playing tennis or golf every morning. I go to basketball practice after school and just show up and teach without doing anything else.

I remember when I first started doing this down here, my former players and assistants would say to me, ‘Coach you can’t be somebody’s assistant! That’s impossible!’ I tell them, ‘You guys don’t understand. I’ve got the best of both worlds.’

Most of these teams I’ve been coaching, they buy into everything I teach, and it’s like watching LaSalle. As a matter of fact, Mark Simon, the outgoing St. Joe’s coach – he has a place here in Naples and he comes down in the winter once and while when he gets a break from work. He must’ve seen something on Facebook so he reached out to me and asked if he could come by a practice and pick my brain a little bit. He came by practice this winter and stayed the whole two hours of practice – watched our Gulf Coast High School team practice and picked up a few things.

AD: Now you may not know this, but the other Section VI Class A coaches – the Lancasters, the Williamsville Norths, the Lockports, the Hamburgs – did they all breathe a sigh of relief when they heard that LaSalle was closing?

PM: Well (laughing), the last year – the 1999-2000 season, that’s when Niagara Falls finally beat us. God, they had six to seven kids who were just tremendous basketball players, and all we had was Dewitt Doss and a cast of characters, and little munchkins. Believe it or not, that’s when they were still doing that crossover stuff where you had two divisions.

We won our side, and they won their side and we played them at North Tonawanda. We had a 7-point lead on them with about four minutes left in the game, and all we did was turn it over. We ended up losing them by two, and we ended up playing them again in the sectional finals, and they beat us on a buzzer beater. I’ll be honest with you in that we should’ve been blown out by 20 points, and we kept both games in the 40s.

Your kids have got to believe in you, and you’ve got to believe in them. I see too many screamers and yellers. Did I yell? Of course I yelled, but I yelled for a purpose and for a reason. If yesterday I put in an out of bounds play, and we went over it 20 times in row, and then we ran it tonight in the game, and you went the wrong way, you better believe you’re going to hear it from me. Right? I’m a teacher, and I taught you to do it this way and not that way.

I think people misconstrued me as a ‘win at all costs’ guy and it’s never how I’ve been. Am I a competitor? Absolutely. Do I like to win? Of course. I love to win. Show me someone who loves to lose and I’ll show you a loser, right? But you talk to my players and they’ll tell you that they learned more life lessons than they did the game of basketball. Talk to Modie Cox – do you know Modie?

AD: We met and spoke briefly a couple of years ago.

PM: Well you talk to Modie (pictured in the gold uniform below) and have him tell you some stories. He’s got a great program he runs now. It’s his business and it’s called “Winning Because I Tried”, and he speaks all over the place – all over the state at Boys Clubs and middle schools, and he’s just turned out to be one hell of a great and dynamic young man. He was a freshman I brought up from the JV on that 1987-88, 27-0 team. I’ll remember it until the day that I die. We still get together and every time I see him, and he still brings it up. He says, ‘Coach, that was the moment that changed my life.’

He didn’t play a lick in any of those games. If I had 11-12 Varsity players, I would always bring my three or four best JV players up to the Varsity team. They’d practice with us all through the Sectionals and all through the Far West Regionals. I’d take them to Glens Falls so they could see what it was like and want to do it themselves.

He was on that team, and after the game – he didn’t play a second and he was crying like a baby. He hugged me and said, ‘Coach this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in my life!’ And now he’s turned out to be doing the right things for the right reasons and is just a great young man. He had a nice career at UB. If you have a chance, you should talk to Modie and Timmy Winn.

AD: Okay that would be great. Well thank you Coach Monti. I think readers are really going to enjoy this interview – your players, the LaSalle alumni who I see have their own Facebook page, others who knew you, and basketball fans alike. I have some pictures and news clippings from the Buffalo News to go with what we’ve talked about here.

PM: Well the stuff you want to get is the stuff that Allen Wilson wrote up back in the day. Do you remember Allen Wilson? What a great guy. He loved, loved, loved my kids. He followed us as if he was our number one booster. That guy really, really liked our team. He came to a couple of our postseason banquets – great guy and it’s a shame what happened to him.

His wife Lisa who used to be the sports editor for the Buffalo News – sweet girl. He met her when she was doing sports for the Niagara Gazette when he was doing the Buffalo News, and I sort of introduced them.

AD: I moved away from Western New York in the mid-1990s. What happened to Allen Wilson?

PM: He died of Cancer after my retirement. I want to say that he’s been gone maybe 10 years now. Great guy. Tremendous guy. Great sports reporter. He loved high school basketball – a Carolina guy.

AD: I know Mike Harrington was writing most of the stuff and then Allen took over?

PM: Yes, Mike moved up to the big-time and Allen took over the high school beat. And after Allen, there was Keith McShea. Did you go to college after Hutch?

AD: Yes, but I didn’t play after high school. It was a bit of rocky road for me. I got injured my junior year and had some issues with my grades, and then the coach I started playing under retired. Then my senior season was a wash.

PM: Who did you have at Hutch?

AD: Ken Jones. His 1990-91 team won the Class B Sectional and advanced the Far West Regional where they lost to Newark my freshman year, and we just had a hard time getting back and making things work, and then he left.

PM: And you said one of my teams played you guys in one of the Christmas tournaments?

AD: Yes, it was the 1991 Festival of Lights Tournament – my first year on the team. I remember the day before the game, following practice, one of my teammates said, ‘We’re not going to beat LaSalle!’ I wondered why he would say such a thing, but I was in large part unexposed to Section VI basketball at the time so I didn’t know who you guys were (laughing).

PM: Who did I have on that team?

AD: You had: Carlos Bradberry, Todd Guetta, Curtis Ralands, Chris Frank and Shino Ellis – those guys (pictured in the team photo above).

PM: Oh the team that played against John Wallace and Greece-Athena in the Regional.

AD: Now I hope my Coach and teammates don’t get upset with me for this, but from the opening tip, it was like a Lion jumping on a Deer where the two teams were playing at two different speeds, and you guys beat us handily, 72-42. I was hoping to get at least one basket in ‘garbage’ time, but Jody Crymes and the other reserves were still playing at full speed (laughing).

PM: Oh (laughing). Well towards the end there when we used to go into opposing gyms, people used to say, ‘Well it’s already 10-nothing LaSalle before you even come out of the locker room.’

Yeah so if there was ever a dynasty, for that one stretch, I think we were truly a dynasty. I know there was a lot of banter back and forth. Who was better? St. Joe’s or LaSalle? Traditional or LaSalle? Turner/Carroll or LaSalle? But, I don’t think there’s anyone who did what we did for that stretch of time.

It sounds cocky, but I’m very, very proud of that. We were able to do it year in and year out with a change in personnel every year. And it all goes back to what we talked about in the beginning – the system. It was the system!

To see the first part of my interview with Coach Monti and other basketball-related pieces on my blog, see the links below. There will be one more installment in addition to this ‘question and answer’ portion of my interview with Coach Monti. During our interview, Coach Monti told numerous stories from the LaSalle basketball dynasty which were quite substantial length-wise for a standard interview format, and were more appropriate as ‘standalone’ stories. Those stories are coming soon. Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy:

Pat Monti discusses building, coaching, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Tim Winn discusses playing point guard in the LaSalle basketball dynasty and beyond part one
Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup, and State Tournaments
Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe discusses his college and professional basketball careers and coaching
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on basketball camp
Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Could You Start A Sports Club?

Some key focuses of my blog are Business and Entrepreneurship, and Athletics and Sports. While not everyone can go on to play in college and the professional levels, many individuals go on to start their own Sports Clubs. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Could You Start A Sports Club?

* * *

Image Source

Thinking of starting up your own sports club? Here are a few of the steps you may need to consider to make your club a reality.

Get qualified/licensed

Some sports are governed by an official body – to teach these sports you may need to obtain a license or teaching qualification that is officially recognised. For example, you can’t teach skiing without completing a ski instructor course, whilst you can’t coach a swim team without registering with USA Swimming as a coach. Even in sports where qualifications aren’t necessary, taking some kind of course can be beneficial for helping you to understand the process behind running a club.

Know your competition

Before starting up a club, you may want to check that there aren’t any other similar clubs locally. You may find it difficult to get people to join your club if there’s already a well established club in the area teaching the same sport as you. If you’re starting a club that’s part of a national organisation, you may even be restricted from starting up a club if there’s already one in the vicinity. Either way, make sure to do your research.

Shop around for equipment/venues

You’ll need certain essentials such as equipment and a venue. Shop around to find something that suits you need – you should weigh up factors such as cost, availability and practicality. You may want to design your own equipment in some cases such as custom basketball jerseys. Also consider whether you may need a van to transport equipment in – this may not be necessary with a pilates class but could be much needed if you’re running an outdoor boot camp.

Work out your running costs

On top of upfront costs of equipment, you’ll need to consider the running costs of renting a venue and possibly insurance. Make sure that you’re going to be making enough money to cover these costs. If you’re not making money from your club or only planning on breaking even, you’ll need to to ensure that you’ve got a job that supplies you with a source of income large enough to afford your club’s running costs.

Consider the commitment

A club is a big responsibility. People will expect you to show up and run the club each week, so make sure that you’ve got the time and the personal drive to do this. Quitting the club could let down any members who you build up – it should be something that you plan to be in for the long run.

Do your market research

Market research will help you to understand the demographic of the people that live locally to you and the people that are most suited to your club. If you’re going to be charging high fees, you need to be sure that people in the area are wealthy enough to afford your club. If your club is aimed at children, you may want to check that there are a lot of schools in the area and therefore a lot of kids to market to. This will all help you to realise how feasible your sports club is.

Niagara Falls basketball legend Tim Winn discusses playing in the LaSalle dynasty part one

“When you have so many great teams that have been there before you, you’re not competing against the best in Western New York, you’re competing against history. We didn’t care about beating St. Joe’s or Buffalo Traditional. Could we be better than the team we were on last year?”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. A key aspect of creating them is hearing the stories and experiences of those who have made it to where we want to be. Like many kids, an early dream of mine was to play basketball. That dream didn’t reach fruition, but the lessons I learned playing in Section VI, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s western-most section, laid the groundwork for me to go on to further my education and start my science career.

I’m working on a project chronicling my early journey, and as a part of the research for that project, I’ve interviewed numerous Section VI basketball players and coaches from my era. On June 4, 2018, I had the honor of interviewing Tim Winn – a Western New York basketball legend and one of the last in a long line of great point guards in the LaSalle basketball dynasty – arguably the most dominant high school basketball program ever in Section VI and the Western New York region. In the early- mid-1990s, Tim Winn was Western New York’s other top point guard alongside Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe, and has the distinction of making the State Tournament in Glens Falls each of his four years in high school.

In part one of this two-part interview, Tim discusses his background, how he started playing basketball, and how he became one of the legendary point guards in the LaSalle basketball dynasty. The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Section VI basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Sections V and VI playoff programs by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones. Other pictures were generously shared by Tim himself, and his Head Coach at LaSalle Senior High School, Pat Monti.  Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Anwar Dunbar: First Tim, I want to say that I really appreciate your willingness to talk about your playing days and LaSalle basketball. This really, really means a lot.

Tim Winn: No problem. The older you get, the only thing you’ve got left are your stories.

AD: I’ll tell you a little bit about me and then we’ll jump in. I’m a blogger/writer and a native Western New Yorker just like yourself. One of the things I write about on my blog is success and failure, and my first major success and failure lesson in life was my high school basketball experience at Hutch-Tech in Buffalo. I didn’t go on and do anything as spectacular as you and Jason (Rowe) did, but that was my first time dreaming about doing something, and then feeling some disappointment. That served as a template for the rest of my life also. It’s a story I always wanted to tell, and that’s what I’m doing now.

The way that I wrote this up, it’s about my journey, but it also ends up being about Section VI as well, and you can’t tell that story without discussing the power programs – LaSalle, Buffalo Traditional and all of the teams that made their championship runs in that era. Traditional made deep runs in postseason play most years, but your teams at LaSalle were there at the end pretty much every year – for 10 straight years according to what Coach Monti said. Everyone was gunning for you guys so again, it means a lot to be able to talk about the brown and gold.

I’m going to start at the very beginning. While I knew about some of the ballplayers from Niagara Falls in the 1990s, I didn’t know any of you guys personally. Where is your family from?

TW: My grandfather is from Alabama and my grandmother is from Columbia, SC. They migrated up north way back in the day. I grew up on the east side of Niagara Falls.

AD: They came for the industry jobs?

TW: Yes, exactly.

AD: When did you start playing basketball?

TW: I was about five years old. There was a “Biddy Basketball” league in Niagara Falls. They had two age groups – 12 and under and then 12-14 years old. At five years old you were old enough to play.

AD: You know, the first time I heard of the Biddy leagues was in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on Benji Wilson. When Common mentioned it, I had no idea what he was referring to. Were those held at playgrounds or at community centers?

TW: I played for a team called the “Thirteenth Street Center”, but all of the games were held at the Boys and Girls Club in Niagara Falls on Saturday mornings.

AD: Your Dad, uncles, or any older brothers – were they basketball players too?

TW: My Dad was a great athlete. Rumor has it that he could’ve gone pro in football, baseball, or basketball, but he chose the street life – a typical story where we’re from, you know? It ate him up and it never panned out.

AD: So you must have played for your middle school team?

TW: We didn’t do that in Niagara Falls. We played in the Biddy leagues and that was pretty much it. You played for your neighborhood club – the Boys and Girls Club – I played at the Thirteenth Street Center.

There were different community centers throughout Niagara Falls, and you played for the community center within your neighborhood. There are eight or nine different community centers in Niagara Falls that are spread out in the different neighborhoods. The kids migrated to each center, joined the basketball team. There were also games at the Boys and Girls Club.

AD: That’s very different than what we had in Buffalo. Does that mean your middle schools didn’t have teams at all?

TW: Elementary school? No. You either still played in the Biddy leagues or you tried out for one of the Junior Varsity (JV) teams in the sixth or seventh grades.

AD: Okay, I’m just trying to put everything together because your Coach at LaSalle, Pat Monti, shared with me that the LaSalle players were exposed to the program prior to the ninth grade.

TW: I played JV in the seventh grade. When you have a historic program like LaSalle’s with such a rich tradition, the conversation is always amongst you and your peers. How long are you going to play in the Biddy league? When are you going to try out for the JV? It was really common for guys in the seventh grade to go try out for the JV teams. Obviously, everyone wasn’t going to have success, but it was common. The best players in the Biddy league were presented with the opportunity to try out. Coach Monti’s program had been around for a million years for those of us who lived there.

AD: Did you guys have the option of going to LaSalle or Niagara Falls Senior High Schools? How did that work?

TW: It was all based on your address. I lived right next door to someone who went to Niagara Falls High School. The city broke it down in a weird way where it was strictly addressed-based. For me it was the ‘luck of the draw’. If I lived one more house over, it would have been Niagara Falls High School instead of LaSalle.

AD: Which college and professional players did you look up to? Was it Michael Jordan? Was it someone else?

TW: It was Isiah Thomas all day long.

AD: Was it because of his ‘handle’? Was it because he could shoot it as well?

TW: All of it. It was his handle, his competitive nature – just that fight. Where I’m from, if you didn’t’ have that fight in you, you couldn’t play. He was an easy guy to look up to because at his height, you could see his heartbeat before you could see his handle.

AD: Does that mean you guys were taught how to compete early?

TW: Yes. The side of town I’m from – you either competed or your never played. That’s just how it was. It was a really tough environment. The community raised the kids, so you never played with your age group. At five years old, it was common for me to be on the court with guys 10 and 11 years old – it was very common.

AD: How about the college players? Jason said he followed Kenny Anderson, but were you into the UNLV teams, or the Michigan teams, or any players in particular?

TW: No, not at a young age. It sounds crazy, but you looked up to guys in your neighborhood – the guys at LaSalle Senior High School, for example. Basketball was so big in our city that the teams I liked watching the most were the high schools – Niagara Falls and LaSalle.

Modie Cox (pictured) lived right in my neighborhood, just two houses down. He was a hero in my neighborhood. At five and six years old he was the guy that I watched. In terms of the colleges, I didn’t have a favorite team until I got older and then it was Syracuse.

AD: Now were you familiar with any of the other big-time Section VI players like Ritchie Campbell or Marcus Whitfield? Or was Buffalo just that far away a place to the point where your neighborhood was it?

TW: You heard about it, but it was never up close and personal. I remember Ritchie Campbell coming to Niagara Falls to play against Modie in an All-Star game. That was the first time ever seeing him play. I was in awe because he was one of those rare talents that you never see come through your area. From that point it made me pay attention. I wondered, what else was happening in Buffalo? It made you start paying attention to things outside of your neighborhood.

AD: How was Ritchie’s game different than Modie’s?

TW: Modie was a pure point guard – a pure leader, and I thought Ritchie was the kind of player who could just do anything. I don’t think there wasn’t anything Ritchie (pictured) couldn’t do as a basketball player. He could shoot and make it from half court, and his ability to get assists was just as effective. If you needed someone to start your engine and get your car going, Modie was that motor.

AD: I never got to see either of them play, but you always heard of their legends.

TW: They were definitely both legends.

AD: How did you get over to LaSalle?

TW: Again, it was all neighborhood based and I just happened to be one of the lucky kids who lived in that area that sent you to LaSalle and not Niagara Falls High School.

AD: Did Coach Monti start to know you in the seventh grade?

TW: It wasn’t so much that he got to know me. His program was already there and established. A lot of great talent had already come through it. I was in the seventh grade and wanted to give it a shot and try out for the JV. Once I made that JV team, he became familiar with me. It wasn’t really before that. He may have seen me play in the Biddy leagues, but at that age there are a lot of talented kids in Niagara Falls. I pretty much made JV in the seventh grade and it started from there in terms of our relationship.

AD: Was it a big adjustment for you going from the Biddy league to the JV team?

TW: It wasn’t, because I had been playing with older guys all of my life. You grew up getting beat up by Modie Cox, so going to the JV was not that much of a transition. For me it wasn’t a big transition because the JV program was an extension of the Varsity program. It had such a rich tradition that you walked into a ‘well-oiled’ machine.

AD: Now you guys were probably playing Niagara Falls High School’s JV team, but were you also playing against Grand Island, Kenmore East, Kenmore West, and so on?

TW: Yes, the other teams in the Niagara Frontier League (NFL).

AD: Who was coaching the JV team? Was it Coach Rotundo?

TW: Yes, it was Coach Frank Rotundo.

AD: So, you played JV in the seventh and eighth grades?

TW: Yes, and in the eighth grade I was called up to the Varsity team.

AD: In the eighth grade – how about that. Does that mean you were on the roster when the Carlos Bradberry-led LaSalle team played the John Wallace-led Greece-Athena team in March of 1992 in the Class A Far West Regional?

TW: Yes.

AD: Sweet.

TW: Yes – John Wallace – ‘DA MAN’.

AD: Yes, he had that cut on the back of his head in fat letters. That 1991-92 season was my first year on our Varsity team at Hutch-Tech and you all beat us decisively in the Festival of Lights Tournament. From that point on I kept my eyes on what LaSalle was doing. I taped that Far West Regional game, and I watched it most of the summertime.

I was thinking that the next year I would get to play against Carlos Bradberry, Curtis Ralands, Todd Guetta, Chris Frank, and the rest of the guys on that team. I was sidelined by an injury the next season. We opened up the Festival of Lights Tournament the next season against the Niagara Falls Power Cats and lost to them. We didn’t advance to play you guys anyway, but you always wonder what if.

Once Shino Ellis graduated I thought Jody Crymes – also very talented and lightening quick- would be the next guard up to start alongside Carlos in the backcourt, but suddenly I started hearing about a player named Tim Winn. I was wondering, ‘Who is Tim Winn?’ Describe your freshman season.

TW: It was a rollercoaster ride for me. As you said, Jody was coming into his sophomore year, and with me coming up onto the Varsity team I didn’t know what kind of a role I’d have. I knew that it would be small at first because we had a lot of seniors coming back – Carlos Bradberry was the man. For me, I just wanted to soak it all up, to ‘get in where I fit in,’ as they say.

Coach Monti has a way of just throwing you into the fire. If he’s keeping you on the team, he’s keeping you for a reason. We played Olean High School the first game of that season and I scored 14 points off the bench. To be honest it was a shock to me, because I didn’t think that I was ready on that level to come off the bench and contribute. The opportunity was there, and I took advantage of it.

That was Coach Monti’s genius. He throws you in the fire and expects you to be ready. He allowed you to ‘hide’ behind the system.

AD: Okay, since we’re on Coach Monti, what was it like inside the LaSalle basketball program? I remember you guys played suffocating defense, created a lot of turnovers – a lot of pressing, some zone, and then boom you guys were immediately down at the other basket, laying it up or dunking it.

TW: For me, the blessing was that the program was already established. There was a way of going about your business and there were expectations that the program already had. It also just so happened to meet my skill set somewhere in the middle. It was a ‘no nonsense’ program, and it wasn’t a program where you could just come to practice, roll out the balls and start playing.

Coach Monti is a huge stickler on drills, drills, drills. I learned more at LaSalle than I learned in my whole career when you include college and the pros – just knowing how to play the game. It’s not even close. That experience had me super prepared for anything after that. Coach Monti took the time to teach you how to play, and then he demanded that you play the right way.

AD: What was playing the ‘right’ way for Coach Monti? Was it running his offense? Was it boxing out on defense?

TW: If you didn’t play defense at LaSalle, you didn’t play! His defensive tradition was unreal. It didn’t matter how good you were on offense. It started there. That’s how you win a state championship with four guys my height and a center who was 6’1”. You had to defend – that was the staple of our tradition. We didn’t care who you were playing with or who you had. We were coming in and shutting everything down, and then the offense just fell where it fell.

After the defense it was just being unselfish. You’re a team. We didn’t play for stats. The only stats we cared about was the win. That was our bragging point. If there was any arrogance from us, it was based upon getting victories – not me getting 40 points or Jody Crymes (pictured with Tim) getting 20 assists – it was never about that. Those things just came along with it. If we beat you, then we would walk around with our chests poked out a little bit.

AD: Does that mean no one was looking to get on ESPN (laughing)?

TW: Not at all and this is the thing – when you have so many great teams who have been there before you, you’re not really competing against Western New York. We never came into a season saying, ‘We’ve got to be as good as Buffalo Traditional.’ We were trying to beat history.

I’ll give you a prime example. After Carlos Bradberry’s senior year, we graduated eight or nine seniors. No one gave us a chance to come back the next year, and to do any work. It was the perfect opportunity for guys like me entering my sophomore year, and Jody entering his junior year to take our claim.

We didn’t care about being better than St. Joe’s or Buffalo Traditional. Could we be better than the team we were on last year? The only way you would get props in our city and our program, was if you were one of the best teams within that program, and that was our motivation. Could we be better than Carlos’s team the year before who had the Player of the Year on it? Could we get back to Glens Falls?

For us, Glens Falls was the standard. It wasn’t winning the NFL. It wasn’t winning Section VI. Could you get to Glens Falls and win a State Championship? So when the standards are that and you have complete buy in from all of the players involved, it at least sets you up for an opportunity to come close every year. You’re not satisfied with beating Lew-Port. You could care less about beating Traditional, which was one of the best teams to ever come out of Western New York. I’m just saying that for us, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to get to Stephon Marbury and Glens Falls. We were never satisfied with anything local.

AD: Before we move on, what were those guys like – Carlos Bradberry and his class? Did they welcome you on the team? Did they make you have to prove yourself?

TW: We all grew up playing in the Biddy league, so you were already cool with these guys. So the transition to being their teammate on the Varsity was seamless, because we were already like brothers. I lived two houses down from Carlos when I was in high school. Before I became a Varsity player, I was at his house everyday playing video games.

That’s the environment we were in – most of the guys who played Varsity hung out together. You grew up playing against the older kids, and a lot of those guys were the older kids. So to become their teammate was almost expected, and that we would all eventually play together.

AD: What did the LaSalle players do in the offseason? Did you guys go to camps? AAU? What were the guys doing?

TW: It was different for every player. I went away to the “Five Star Camp”, the “Eastern Invitational”, the “Empire State Games“. For me it was different. Jody did a lot of the same, but there was also a league back home that allowed your team to play in it together. We spent a lot of time together playing in high school basketball leagues, but we also played in “Father Bell” as well in Buffalo. We played together a lot.

It’s one thing to stay in your own neighborhood and to compete and succeed, but we also took our show on the road. Once you got to Buffalo in the summertime, and you have guys who may not play together in high school, you might get Jason Rowe and Mark Price on the same team, or Jason and Antoine Sims on the same team. You’re not going to get that staying in Niagara Falls. We felt that if we could find a way to compete against teams that were loaded in the summertime, we knew that we would be better off once the season started.

AD: Coach Monti pointed out that you made the State Tournament all four years which is astounding because, as you remember, many of the Section VI teams were struggling to beat the Section V teams from the Rochester area. When Carlos and his class graduated were you just trying to beat history like you said? What was it like stepping up and doing it yourself 100% of the time?

TW: Do you know what it’s like to get a taste of something? I was young at the time. Me and Jody rode Carlos’s coattails to Glens Falls. As much as we may have contributed, it wasn’t our team. His talent was on a different level. No one in Western New York could deal with him and that carried us.

As a young kid, I didn’t know anything else except going to Glens Falls. We got close to winning the year before, but lost to John Wallace’s team. At worst I thought that I was supposed to be in the Far West Regional against a Rochester team. To beat the Rochester team the next year to go to Glens Falls felt like it was where we were supposed to be. It didn’t take much for Coach Monti to sell us at all. He told us, ‘Look. I’m going to watch the games no matter what. You guys can play well enough to join me or you can stay at home.’

For us it wasn’t a hard sell. Once you get a smell of Glens Falls, there’s nothing else you’d rather have outside of winning it. After riding Carlos’s coattails as a freshman, I wanted my own. The next year I got there as a sophomore and we were immature. No one expected us to be there and the games really took us by storm. We were young kids jumping in the pool at night; just super happy to be in Glens Falls.

The maturity showed up in the offseason because we said, ‘Just going to Glens Falls is kind of whack now.’ Afterwards we were coming to win it and that’s what happened my junior year – to me. If my teammate Terry Rich didn’t get hurt, we would’ve beaten Stephon Marbury’s Lincoln team in the Federation Championship. We didn’t have a full team, but we won the State Championship that year.

AD: So your sophomore year, you guys lost in the state semifinal?

TW: Yes, we lost to a well-coached team with lots of shooters. We were just immature. We finished 22-4.

AD: Talk about matching up with Stephon Marbury in your junior year. He was the No. 1 high school player in the nation that year, right?

TW: You come into it and you know his reputation. You see all of the highlights. He was a McDonald’s All-American, the top point guard in the country. For me there was going to be no better test to let me know what level I was on than to go up against this guy. I was going to try it all. Whoever I thought I was, I was going to try it in that game, and playing against the best, would expose what I needed to work on.

We locked him down. He was averaging 30 points a game, and I think we held him to 12 points. That was a springboard for me in my high school career. I felt like if Stephon Marbury couldn’t score on me, nobody was scoring. I didn’t care who you were. I carried that with me for that entire summer – ABCD Basketball Camp – everywhere I went. It carried into my senior year when we lost two of my favorite players of all time that I played with, Jody Crymes and Terry Rich. Nobody was expecting me to go back to Glens Falls my senior year.

AD: After losing Jody and Terry, how did you reload? Who filled in for them? Or did you just go up another level?

TW: It was a combination of things. For me individually, my game went ten notches up from going to ABCD Camp and playing against the best point guards. I put a lot of work into my game, so I was a lot better than in my junior year.

We also had guys like Roddy Gayle and Carlos Davis who had small roles with us the year before (both pictured to the left). They stepped up big time. For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t just a guard-led team. These guys were my center and my forward even though they were both just 6’. So they really stepped up!

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. In part two, Tim talks more about playing in the LaSalle basketball program, where he played college basketball, the closing of LaSalle Senior High School, and finally how basketball has changed. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

Niagara Falls coaching legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup, and State Tournaments
Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe discusses his college and professional basketball careers and coaching
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on three years of basketball camp
Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Niagara Falls coaching legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one

“I was a very strong-minded teacher, and the classroom just carried over to the court for me – it was my after-school classroom. If you talk to any of our super star players or any of our reserves, they’ll tell you that our program ran on structure, discipline and no nonsense!”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. A key part is hearing the stories and experiences of successful people. Like many kids, I dreamt of an early dream of playing basketball. That dream didn’t reach fruition, but the lessons I learned playing in Section VI, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s western-most section, laid the groundwork for me to go on to further my education and start my science career.

I’m working on a project chronicling my early basketball journey, and as a part of the research for that project, I’ve interviewed numerous Section VI basketball players and coaches from my era. On May 10, 2018, I had the honor of interviewing Pat Monti – a Western New York basketball coaching legend and the Architect of the LaSalle basketball dynasty – arguably the most dominant high school basketball program ever to play in the Western New York region. From the late 1980s to the late 1990s LaSalle was consistently in position to advance to the Final Four in Glens Falls and won numerous state titles – Public and Federation. More fascinating than the actual dominance of the program itself though, is how it was built – with solid point guard play, defense, and a crafty, determined and highly competitive coaching staff.

In part one of this two-part interview, Coach Pat Monti discusses his background, and how he built the LaSalle basketball program. The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Western New York basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Sections V and VI playoff programs by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones. Other articles and pictures were generously shared by Coach Pat Monti himself. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for this opportunity to interview you, Coach Monti. I’m working an ambitious writing project about my high school basketball experience – my first major success and failure lesson in life. While I didn’t play organized basketball beyond the 1993-94 school year, my high school experience at Hutch-Tech gave me the initial tools I needed to earn my Ph.D. in a STEM-field – not quitting during the hard times, dealing with adversity, finishing what I started, and so on.

In my project I also tell the story of the Section VI in that era – the prime of the LaSalle basketball dynasty – you can’t properly tell it without discussing the brown and gold – the LaSalle Explorers as you guys were the premiere program/team in our area for more than a decade. As a part of my research, I’ve reached out to several coaches and players, but talking to you may be my biggest interview of all. And with that we’ll start.

Where are you from and how did you get involved with the game of basketball?

Pat Monti: I’m from Syracuse, NY – born and raised. I’ve been playing basketball since I was about five years old. My Dad was a star athlete in all three of the major sports in high school before going to World War II, and I’ve always been into sports. I left Syracuse when I was 17 years old to attend Niagara University. Other than visiting family, I never went back. Right out of Niagara in 1968, I was offered a local teaching job. My wife to be was a junior at the time, so I took the job, and that’s basically where we spent the rest of our adult lives. We’ll be married 49 years this year, and retired to Naples, FL about 15 years ago.

AD: Describe your playing experience at Niagara University.

PM: It was on and off. As a freshman, I messed up my ankle for the first of many times, shutting that season completely down. Unfortunately, we had three coaching changes in the four years I was there. Eventually they brought in a coach I won’t name – we didn’t see eye to eye in terms of my abilities, so I continued my education but didn’t play hoops there.

I played some semi-pro traveling ball and I always knew that I wanted to coach. That’s why I got a teaching degree – a B.S. in Commerce which in New York State back in my day, licensed me to teach just about every business subject that was being taught in public schools. For most of my teaching career I taught: Accounting, Business Law, and Business Math – those were my three major subjects, but I taught just about every business subject that was in the curriculum at the time.

AD: So, you were in the classroom, and you coached as well?

PM: Oh yeah. I had grandiose ideas of being a Physical Education teacher, but science wasn’t my strength. I was going to do Accounting but realized that I couldn’t do it because I wanted to coach, and both seasons overlapped. I had a great counselor at Niagara who said, ‘Why don’t you try Business Education because you’re great with numbers and you have a great level-headed business-mind.’

Back when I went to school, there weren’t five and six-year plans like there are today. We finished in four years, so my senior year, I had to take a huge load. I graduated on time in 1968 and immediately wanted to coach, but not being a local kid, it was tough to get my foot in the door. They were looking for teachers back then, so I hooked on with Johnny McCarthy – the old Buffalo Braves coach who played at Canisius – he was the coach at St. John Neumann which would’ve been well before your time – right there on the Youngman Expressway near Main Street. I see the building is still there from the times I’ve gone by there.

That was my first year and I was the coach of his ‘Freshman’ team, and that’s kind of what got me started in my coaching career. I spent one year there and then I was fortunate to become the Junior Varsity (JV) Coach at Bishop Duffy – now Niagara Catholic High School. I coached three years of JV under Bob Laurrie whose son Mark Laurrie happens to be the Superintendent of schools in Niagara Falls – Bob was a mentor. When I got to LaSalle, the Head Coach was Matt Mazza who was legendary for his personality and everything (laughing).

I tried a few times to get the JV job at LaSalle even though I was teaching in the building. Eventually in 1972, I got the JV job under Coach Mazza, and then in 1975 our former Principal Bill Sdao who also became Superintendent, saw something I guess and at 29 years old I got my first head coaching job. I had it from 1975 until 2000 when the school closed.

AD: Wow.

PM: In those 25 years, we did some remarkable things. We started out with a program that really hadn’t done much – had a little bit of success I guess before my time. My three years as the JV coach I think we were 15-3, 16-2, and 15-3, so that should’ve led to the Varsity being decent I’d think if not really good, but unfortunately, they weren’t for whatever reason.

AD: In the late 1980s and early 1990s, our Yale Cup teams didn’t have formal JV programs across the board feeding the Varsity teams, but it sounds like the two Niagara Falls high schools did. Is that correct? What were some of the other keys to your success at LaSalle?

PM: It’s amazing what we accomplished from 1975-2000 in 25 years considering we didn’t have a ‘Freshman’ or ‘Middle School’ programs. It was really hard competing with the Lockports and the North Tonawandas – everyone else in the Niagara Frontier League (NFL) at the time because they were so far ahead of us in building ‘programs’. I was a very strong-minded teacher, and the classroom just carried over to the court for me – it was my after-school classroom. If you talk to any of our super star players or any of our reserves, they’ll tell you that our program ran on structure, discipline and no nonsense! I wasn’t a tyrant, but that was the only way I felt that I could build a winning program that would succeed year in and year out.

We won Section VI 10 straight times. Some schools never win a sectional. I think our 10 straight sectional titles, 12 out of 13 years is still a record for boys’ basketball in the state – I know it’s a record for Western New York for sure. From 1988 to 1997, we won Section VI and went to the Far West Regional all ten of those years, and we went to Glens Falls six times. In that ten-year span, our record was 226-22 which is over 90% in terms of winning percentage.

AD: So, it sounds like you ran a structured program. What were the hallmarks of your program? Were you a “defense-first” coach? It seemed like you guys created lots of turnovers and easy transition baskets.

PM: Well I think anyone who ‘pidgeon-holes’ themselves into one philosophy will never ever be doing service to their young student-athletes. Obviously, we played great defense. In that 10-year period, we started in 1987-88 going 27-0 which is still a Western New York record – I don’t believe anyone has been undefeated with that many wins. Some teams had more wins because they played more games than us, but I don’t think anyone went undefeated at 27-0. That was the year that we supposedly upset Christian Laettner’s team, but I honestly believe Nichols took us for granted twice. You’re probably too young to remember – when did you get out of Hutch-Tech?

AD: 1994. Was the Nichols School always a part of the NFL?

PM: You were probably in grammar school then. We had four high schools in Niagara Falls at one time: Trott Vocational, Niagara Falls, LaSalle and obviously Bishop Duffey which went on to become Niagara Catholic. In 1985-86, Trott Vocational closed and they enlarged LaSalle’s campus by building industrial shops, auto shops, a Horticulture area – they turned LaSalle into a multipurpose high school. We always had ten teams in the NFL, and it was perfect – you played everyone twice – you played 18 games and maybe you’d pick up a tournament or something and you played your 20 games which the state allowed back then.

When Trott closed, the powers that be didn’t want an uneven number of schools because you’d have one team having a bye every time the games were played. They looked around for a team to fill the slot that Trott left, and they asked the Nichols School to join the NFL which I thought was ridiculous. It was a private school now playing with all public schools – recruited from everywhere – we weren’t playing on an equal playing field.

AD: I was in middle school when Christian Laettner was at Nichols and missed seeing him and some of the other notable players of that time play. I first saw Trott listed in one of my sectional books but didn’t know what it was. How did the LaSalle program continue to build its dominance after winning the Class B State and Federation titles that 27-0, 1987-88 season?

PM: In 1988-89, we graduated four starters, and no one picked us to win the NFL. I think that because of the program and the way we played the game – we shared the ball and didn’t care who scored and we played phenomenal defense – that ten-year period, our average points per game given up, was less than 50 in the 200 plus games. So, our program was definitely built on defense.

It bothers the heck out of me when I see coaches who have a system and say, ‘This is the way I do it and I don’t care!’ I’ll give you an example. We were meeting a really good Lancaster team in the Class A sectional final at the Niagara Falls Convention Center in 1990, and Channel 7 interviewed them at their gym. We had a whole week in between finishing up the regular season and playing the sectional final.

I knew we were going to be meeting Lancaster and I knew that we could destroy them with our “Run and Jump” pressing defense because they were big and very methodical. I don’t think they ever saw our kind of pressure. I’ll never forget this – Channel 7 interviewed them the Wednesday or Thursday before our Saturday night game. Their coach had two of his better players with him, and I think Rick Azar interviewed them.

‘Coach you’re playing the five or six-time defending Class A Section VI Champion who has also won the State Championship a couple of times,’ Rick said. ‘How are you going to deal with their phenomenal man to man pressure when all you do is play man to man yourself?’

‘We play nothing but man!’ their coach said. To me he did his kids a disservice because we weren’t a great shooting team – he should’ve played zone against us. His team was big enough, smart enough, and probably athletic enough to play us zone, and probably force us take a lot of outside shots that we didn’t like to take. My thought even to this day is that I’d rather have a layup and a free throw than a three-pointer. I think too many people live and die with the three-point shot. I know it’s become ‘the thing’, but there’s no ‘mid-range’ game anymore. Everybody shoots threes or wants to dunk. No one uses the glass which is there for a reason. I myself am a lefty and I had great touch, so I used the glass like crazy – it’s there to help you. Anyhow, this Lancaster Coach had his kids slapping the floor like (laughing) –.

AD: Like Duke?

PM: ‘We’re going to play man to man,’ the Lancaster coach said, and I was thinking, ‘We’re going to come out and toast this team!’ I showed the clip to my kids because I’d taped it – I used it as fodder for them. The score was something like 37-15 at halftime. They pressed us full court Anwar. All I did was what I now call the “One-Breaker” where I had my point guard taking the ball out every chance we could after a dead ball. I had my twos and threes in the corner and my fours and fives at half court – basically it was ‘1-2-2 press-breaker’. When we passed it in to the two or the three which were both also guards who probably could’ve played the point – I’m trying to think if it was a Timmy Winn team or a Modie Cox team –.

AD: If it was the mid- 1990s then it had to be one of your Modie Cox-teams.

PM: We just passed it into the corner, and Modie shot up the middle and my fours and fives which were just small forwards both pinched in and it was a bounce pass and layup to either side. It was like a layup drill. They should never have been pressing us, and they shouldn’t have been playing us man to man.

So, going back to my original thought – you’ve got to coach your team to give them the best chance to win from game to game, and from opponent to opponent. You have to know your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, and you have to take your strengths and weaknesses, and try to overcome what they do, and do what you can do. If I had to play zone, I would do it absolutely.

When we played Niagara Falls High School, they had phenomenal size and talent. See a lot of people don’t realize this, but from 1985 until 1999, we beat Niagara Falls 35 straight times. They always had more size than us, and probably more overall talent. They might not have had the guards, but what they also didn’t have was structure, discipline, and no nonsense.

AD: Wow.

PM: When I’d go to these clinics, coaches would ask, ‘Coach how do you do this year in and year out?’ I’d say, ‘Fellas, you have what they want.’ They’d look at me and ask, ‘What are you talking about?’ I’d say, ‘You’ve got the ball. If they’re not doing it the way you script it, then you take the ball away from them. You sit them down!’

See a lot of coaches are afraid to sit their players down or discipline them because they don’t think that they can win. But if your team has bought into the team concept, you can win. I’ve had players go down to injury in games we weren’t supposed to win, and we won because somebody else stepped up.

AD: Were there particular kinds of kids you were looking for?

PM: The good thing about our program was that because we didn’t have a Middle School program, or a ‘Freshman’ program, at least the state let seventh or eighth graders play JV or Varsity if they passed the physical fitness test which had parameters. You know what I’m talking about right?

AD: Yes.

PM: So, what I used to do was make sure that our LaSalle ‘Middle’ which fed our LaSalle ‘Senior’. I made sure that any seventh or eighth graders we used to watch at the Boys Club, the Biddy Leagues, or at the YMCA Saturday morning ball – if we knew that they were LaSalle kids, we’d invite them to take the physical fitness tests with their gym teachers and then tryout. There were years where my JV coaches hated me – there were years where I made them keep 21, 22 and 23 players on the JV teams even though you could only suit up, and put 15 names in the book.

I had seventh and eighth graders on my JV team so that they were basically learning our system way before their time. They knew what to expect. They knew that we were demanding, that we were structured and disciplined, and it was no nonsense – if you don’t like it, there’s the door, we’ll see you later! And that’s how all the great point guards like: Michael Freeney, Michael Starks, Carlos Bradberry, Modie Cox, Jody Crymes, Timm Winn, Terry Rich, and Dewitt Doss – all the guys who ended up starring at LaSalle, that’s the system they were brought up in.

AD: Wow. So, there was a LaSalle Middle School as well?

PM: Yeah LaSalle had a middle school on Buffalo Avenue which is still there. They now call it “LaSalle Preparatory Academy”. The biggest mistake I think the city ever made was closing our beautiful school – tearing it down within a matter of three months because this guy Benderson wanted that land for years. It’s now a plaza where there’s a Super Wal-Mart, and Bed Bath and Beyond, and every other out parcel you can think of.

AD: I want to come back to LaSalle closing but I have some more questions before we get to that. Between the 1970s when you started, and the late 1980s when you went on that 10-year run, what happened? Did it take you that long to build the continuity or just to get the players?

PM: Well, my first really good team was probably 1980 when Frank Rotundo was on the team. When Frank Rotundo my longtime JV Coach joined me in 1986 until the school closed in 2000, he did a fantastic job molding the young players into the LaSalle system. I also had a guard who went to Alabama State named Michael Freeney – his older brother Jimmy Freeney was a great player for Matt Mazza who I took over for. Michael kind of put us on the map in 1979, 80, 81 – he just had an incredible career for us. As a matter of fact, this story will tell you about the kind of program we built, and the attitude that our kids had.

We were playing in the Convention Center against Niagara Falls High School because with such a rivalry, they wanted to give everyone an opportunity to see the game – rather than playing it at our gym or their gym. Michael was an All-Western New Yorker. We were supposed to get demolished. Niagara Falls was very talented – very big and athletic – much more so than us and we were both battling for the Niagara Frontier League title.

The Tuesday before this particular game, we had a one game lead on them and we were playing Niagara-Wheatfield who was not very good. I think we beat them by 25 the first time we played them. We played at their gym and this is where I picked up this gimmick defense that I run. They played it on Michael Freeney who was averaging twenty something points per game. Their Coach was Doc Massoti – a good basketball mind – that’s where I got my gimmick defense, God rest his soul. He played this gimmick defense – people think it’s a “Box and One” but it’s not, it’s different. They held Michael to four points and he fouled out in the ugliest game I’ve ever coached and with a talented team. I think they beat us 45-43 – it was really ugly.

The next day – Wednesday or Thursday, we and Niagara Falls got to practice at the Niagara Falls Convention Center for our Friday night game. My kids were so aloof and goofy, and I just blew the whistle and said, ‘Are you guys kidding me? You just got beaten by a team you beat by 25 points a month or two ago. You’re playing Niagara Falls and you’re tied for the NFL title. The winner of this game wins the league and you’re going through the motions and screwing around? I know you’re at the Convention Center and you’re excited, but fellas we’ve got a job to do!’ I threw them out of practice. I said, ‘Get out of here! Good-bye!’

We came out Friday night, and we put such a whipping on a Niagara Falls High School team that had so much more talent than us. We beat them by 25 points. Michael had 47 points, and I took him out of the game five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Someone from the scorer’s table came over and whispered in one of my assistant’s ears who came and told me, ‘You know Michael’s got 47 points Coach.’ I said, ‘What?’ He was just so effortless, and I looked down to the end of the bench and he’s got his sneakers off. I said, ‘Michael put your sneakers back on.’ He asked, ‘Why Coach?’ I said, ‘I want you to score three more points.’ He said, ‘I don’t need any more points Coach. These guys don’t get to play much. Let them play.’ Those were the kind of kids we had, and the kind of culture we had.

In the second part of our interview, Coach Pat Monti talks more about coaching the LaSalle basketball program, the closing of LaSalle Senior High School, and finally what coaching has been like afterwards. Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy:

Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup, and State Tournaments
Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe discusses his college and professional basketball careers and coaching
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on basketball camp
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Life, Success, and failure
Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on three years of basketball camp

“Basketball is our game and yours can be the same.”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. I originally published this series on the Examiner back in 2014. As a teen I dreamt of being a basketball player just like a lot of kids – a dream for which one must have lots of ability, drive, and luck to achieve. My experience turned out to be quite the adventure, and I didn’t formally play basketball beyond high school. The lessons I learned there however, not all of them happy and pleasant, helped me as I progressed into adulthood and into my Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career. As mentioned when I began reposting this series, I’m working on an ambitious writing project chronicling my early basketball journey in Western New York.

Initially I thought that I would simply republish the original series and let it go, but I’ve decided to add onto it as I continue working on my book project and ideas keep coming to me. Heading into the summer months this particular follow up installment will discuss what I learned from the three years I attended basketball camp. See if you the reader can pick up on the universal themes which transcend the great game of basketball.

* * *

“Basketball is our game and yours can be the same,” was the signature quote of the Ken Jones Basketball Camp – the camp run by Dr. Kenneth Leon Jones, my first high school basketball coach. As he told us students more times than I can remember, “I’m a student of the game.” He ate, slept and breathed the great game of basketball. Our basketball program at Hutch-Tech High School in Buffalo, NY was an extension of him and was unique in our league, the “Yale Cup”, during that sliver of time he coached there. He taught us the structure and fundamentals of the game which at that time were the hallmarks of only the area suburban and private schools. To learn some more about what the Yale Cup was like, see parts one and two of my interview with Buffalo basketball legend Jason Rowe.

What was also unique about our program at Hutch-Tech was that our coach ran his own basketball camp – the first and only one I’d ever attend. I first heard about the Ken Jones Basketball Camp as a freshman. Towards the end of the 1990-91 school year, a highly successful season for Hutch-Tech’s basketball program, Coach Jones posted fliers for the camp on the bulletin board near the coaches’ offices. I knew very few fundamentals of basketball as most of my play consisted of games of “Twenty-One”, also known as “Rochester”, and ‘pickup’ games on Buffalo’s playgrounds and at the William-Esmlie YMCA. I thought attending the camp would not only teach me more about the game, but it would also give me an ‘in’ going into tryouts the next year – something it may have in fact done.

I’ll point out here that my perception of attending the camp as an ‘in’ to get on the Varsity team was a flawed way of thinking. There were several peers who attended the camp and didn’t make the team during those years. For any prospective players or parents reading this, it’s very important for kids with aspirations of playing sports to understand that spots on their school’s roster should be, and must be, earned. Spots on the roster should be awarded based on skills and preparation – not some form of favoritism or partiality – both of which do happen in the real world at workplaces later in life.

I was blessed that my mother and father were able to come up with the $300 to $400 fee to attend the Ken Jones Basketball Camp, as not all of my peers could afford to go. Keep in mind that I went three of my four years in high school – again a blessing. Also keep in mind that there were several local camps in and around the city of Buffalo which I didn’t know much about; which in hindsight, I also wish I had attended. Later in life I learned that no matter what your craft is, learning from multiple teachers only makes you stronger and more formidable. Each year the Buffalo News actually advertised all of the area camps, and neither I, nor anyone in my immediate family ecosystem at the time, knew to look for them.

At this point I’ll distinguish between the two types of camps and if I’ve misspoken here, please do leave a comment below this blog post. According to what I’ve learned, there were two types of basketball camps; ‘Teaching’ camps which were designed to impart the fundamentals of the game, and also what I’ll call ‘All-Star’ camps – showcases for the nation’s top talent. These included the: Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and ABCD camps. These camps drew your future Division I and NBA talent. The documentary Hoop Dreams shows a snippet of the Nike Camp in the early 1990s where in that particular year, players like Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, and Alan Henderson attended. They were scouted by high-level college coaches like P.J. Carlissimo, Mike Kryzewski, John Chaney, Kevin O’Neil and others.

The Ken Jones Basketball Camp was a ‘teaching’ camp. In the early 1990s it was held at Hamilton College in north-central New York State. It drew kids from all over the state – some from the Buffalo area, and many from the Rochester area where Coach Jones used to coach before moving to Buffalo. There were also kids from the middle of the state and the Hudson River Valley. That was true for the coaches on staff too. Coach Jones had an entire lineup of coaches he’d either coached with, coached against, or in many cases had simply befriended along the way. In a way they were like a group of ‘Mob Bosses’ like in the movie Casino. Instead of organized crime though, they were all passionate about basketball. You could hear and feel it in the workshops they taught in addition to how they coached us.

“It’s a season of basketball in a session,” was one of the other signature quote from the camp’s brochure and it was true. It was one week packed with: workshops, drills, and competition. I’d never seen anything like it before. Towards the end of the camp there was a ‘playoff’ for each age group and an All-Star game for the camp’s best players. It was literally like a basketball boot camp. We had to be up at 6-7 am for calisthenics and stretching, and then breakfast to start our day full of games and drills/workshops. We were also supposed to be in bed at a certain hour each night. As promised, our muscles and joints were aching by Tuesday and Wednesday.

It was a very ‘organized’ style of basketball they taught us there – very different than the ‘street-style’ we played in Buffalo which involved mostly, “going up strong to the ‘hole’,” and usually watching your teammates dominate the ball on offense while everyone else stood around watching – ‘isolation’ basketball. As I was going into the camp looking to become a much better offensive player, I was very much surprised by the amount of time we spent on defensive principles and fundamentals.

I also noticed that some of the other kids my age were much more developed than I was in terms of their offensive skill sets and their overall ‘basketball-IQs’ – their basic knowledge of the game allowing them to know what plays to make offensively and defensively – instinctually in some instances. One teammate from my first year at the camp who was from Palmyra-Macedon (Pal-Mac) High School in the Rochester area stands out to me. We were the same age and similar height, but he had already developed a reliable 15-foot jump shot – something I hadn’t developed at that point as no one had emphasized it back home.

Interestingly, the best basketball I ever played was probably at that camp my second year. I think it was largely due to the players I got to play with. They weren’t selfish, ‘me first’ players. The guards were disciplined and they looked to share the ball. At the camp going into my junior year of high school, I remember regularly touching the ball on my team, and making the All-Star game at the end.

What I’m going to say next is probably the most important part of this piece. I didn’t know how to actually harness what I had learned from the camp, and make myself a better player. That is, I didn’t understand that simply going to the camp by itself wouldn’t make methe best player I could be.

Afterwards, it would take hours and hours perfecting those fundamentals, and then learning how to use them in actual competition. This is the actual “development” – something that takes time, focus and commitment. When I look back on those years, I also realize that I was also developing on my own. In a game like basketball, if you want to play at the highest levels, you have to not only develop yourself personally, but you also have to figure out how to coalesce and build chemistry with the group of players you’re going to be playing with in competition.

What I didn’t understand at the time was how to break out of my ‘comfort zone’. As you might imagine, the majority of the kids at the camp weren’t black, and as an inner-city kid I didn’t know how to blend with kids who didn’t look like me – befriending them and asking them to show me what they knew – also learning about their basketball and life experiences. Making new friends was encouraged, but I just didn’t know how to do it. This was also prior to the cell phones, social media, and the technology we have today, so I didn’t think to try to befriend and stay in contact with the other kids long-term.

Probably the last important principle I didn’t understand was that becoming a great basketball player involved combining the ‘organized’ and ‘street’ styles. The reason I played my best basketball at the camp was because I had become used to playing the ‘organized’ style. A teammate at Hutch-Tech likewise told me later that my game was ‘basic’, meaning that it was very technically sound and very ‘textbook’.

I thought he was picking on me as per usual, but he was right. It turned out that the great and transcendent players at any level could play within an organized team structure, but could also play off of pure instinct when necessary – creating shots for themselves or teammates, or creating key turnovers on defense – again all off of instinct. All of this takes any player time, effort and focus, and it should come from within the individual in order for it to truly bear fruit.

“Damn Anwar. You spent all of that money to go to basketball camp,” a classmate said to me as my junior year season fell apart due to injuries and grades. He was pitying me, and or gloating – I couldn’t tell which at the time. I wasn’t originally going to put this quote into this piece, but it’s a critical aspect of my book project because it underscores how peers view you when you’re setting out to do something of meaning and value. Some are happy for you, while some are waiting for you to fail.

And again, not every family had the money to send their kids to camp which probably created some envy. Some kids wanted to play on the basketball team and didn’t for whatever reason, and you don’t know how they’re viewing you and your opportunities until you yourself are going through a hardship of some sort. This also underscores the importance of having the mental strength I discussed in part three of this series.

And I think I’ll wrap this up here. As I’m working on my book project, all of the things I didn’t know from that time are coming to me – things those in my own immediate familial ecosystem didn’t necessarily know to stress to me at the time – things which the highly successful players are and were taught at those critical stages of their development. This piece is thus highly valuable of young players in those stages. I have a cousin like that right now who thinks she wants to be a basketball player. This piece is very much for players like her who are good on defense for example, but need to develop their offensive games to go to that next level.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Lasting lessons basketball taught me part one: An introduction
Lasting lessons basketball taught me part two: Life lessons
Lasting lessons basketball taught me part three: People, teamwork, mental toughness and leadership
Lasting lessons basketball taught me part four: Life, success, and failure
Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup and State Tournaments
Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe discusses his college and professional careers and coaching
Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right hand column in this post and throughout the site. Lastly follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.