Former Keene State College basketball player Eric Fazio has switched roles from player to coach. Fazio graduated in 2013 and since has been coaching sixth and seventh grade boy’s basketball at Keene Middle School.
“After college coaching was the best way I could stay around the sport I love. I wanted to do something and make an impact like my coaches had on me,” Fazio said.
Fazio said his high school coach and his college coach were the most influential to him and he now uses the advice they gave to him to his team.
“Play the next play was something [KSC Head Basketball Coach Rob] Colbert used to say and now I say it to my team,” Fazio said.
After being an athlete for so long, Fazio said that the difference between coaching and playing is how you put your time into the game.
“As a coach I find myself spending my time doing research and figuring out ways I can make this play work for this person and that person but as an athlete if you want to get better and succeed you got to keep working at it everyday,” Fazio said.
Assistant coach for the Owls’ Men’s Basketball team, Doug Jenkins, said he is very impressed and proud of Fazio for coaching.
“Eric is one of the most enjoyable guys I’ve ever coached. Eric was a quiet leader on the team he was someone who lead by example and I think he takes that with him when we coaches now. He seems very relaxed and works very hard and his players adore him and I think that carried over with him when he was a player at KSC,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins continued, “Since he graduated he’s been checking with myself and Coach Colbert on how we did certain plays because its been a few years and he’s very open to advice as well as trying new things out.” Yet the 15 boys on the Cardinals aren’t the only ones being taken in under Fazio’s coaching wing.
KSC junior Ben Flanders is the Keene Middle School Cardinal’s assistant coach.
Flanders explained, “I met Eric as a freshman and he was a senior and he took me under his wings. Eric got me involved in coaching by asking if I would assist him because last years assistant coach graduated college and moved back home.”
He continued, “I’ve played basketball all my life and coaching was the next step to continue my love for basketball,” Flanders said.
After losing their opening game, Flanders said his favorite moment of the season was watching the boys play as team and get their first win.
For Fazio, spending time on the bus for away games listening to funny middle school jokes and stories are some of his favorite moments of the season.
However, Fazio said his favorite thing about coaching is seeing the kids grow and develop as athletes.
“I like being able to motivate the kids in different ways and being able to teach the plays to each kid not just teach it one way and watch them succeed and build relationships with them,” Fazio said.
Flanders highlighted Fazio’s dedication to his players, as he said, “Eric is very good with the kids because he wants to see the kids grow and succeed as not only players, but as individuals.”
Flanders continued, “Him [Fazio] being there for the kids keeps them comfortable. A few parents have come up to us and said they love and respect the coaching style we have been using with the kids.”
Kendall Pope can be contacted at email@example.com