Website – https://www.bayshoreschools.org/
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @bshs_athletics
Small Town Greatness Documentary – t.co/lKYP8EX17B
Jack Agostino is in his second season as the Boy’s Basketball Varsity Head Coach at Bay Shore High School in New York.
Agostino previously won 473 games over the 27 years he served as head coach of Amityville High School, a public school on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Jack posted a .787 winning percentage as the Warriors head coach and ranks fifth in Long Island history in prep wins. He won four straight state Class A public school and state Federation titles from 2000-03), becoming the only Long Island boys basketball team to accomplish the feat. Amityville won 23 league titles , 11 county class titles and nine Long Island titles under Agostino.
Agostino also spent the 2017-2018 season as the associate head coach at North Carolina A&T.
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Grab pen and paper before you listen to this episode with Jack Agostino, Boys’ Basketball Head Coach at Bay Shore High School in the state of New York.
What We Discuss with Jack Agostino
- Growing up wanting to be a professional baseball player
- Getting his start as a coach in CYO
- Learning about work ethic from his father who drove a truck for a living
- Playing for fun when he was a kid and comparing today’s youth basketball system to the past
- Getting the head coaching job at Amityville High School at age 23 following the death of Fred Williams, the previous coach
- His first game as a high school coach against Bob McKillop
- People skills and relationships helped him overcome his early lack of basketball knowledge
- Connecting with other coaches at Five-Star, Metro Index, and Villanova Basketball Camps
- “I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t speak to somebody about basketball.”
- His family coaching tree
- Taking ideas from coaches at all levels
- Why he believes coaches today are more insecure than in the past
- Connecting with local CYO teams and getting to know the kids in their programs
- The important role his wife Debbie played in his career
- The importance of good relationships with AAU Coaches
- The AAU and high school coach should work together to get the player more exposure and opportunities to play college basketball
- Coaching NBA player Mike James at Amityville and what made him so special
- Kobe Bryant’s work ethic and why Kobe is his favorite player of all time
- The documentary about his time at Amityville called “Small Town Greatness”
- Beating LeBron with Amityville when LeBron was a junior and beating him again in a camp all-star game with Sebastian Telfair and other NYC high school plyers
- The advice he gave LeBron back in his high school days
- The story of why he was forced out of his coaching job at Amityville
- Running camps, clinics and training after losing the Amityville job
- Getting an opportunity in college coaching at North Carolina A&T with his former player Jay Joiner
- Learning the college coaching business
- Why he left NC A&T after one season and why he now wishes he would have stuck with it
- The challenge of building a new program at Bay Shore High School
- Working for his brother Chris who is the AD at Bay Shore
- Coaching while retired from teaching rather than teaching all day and then coaching
- The excitement for the upcoming Amityville Alumni game with Jason Fraser, Mike James, AJ Price and Tristan Smith
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THANKS, JACK AGOSTINO
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TRANSCRIPT FOR JACK AGOSTINO – BAY SHORE (NY) HIGH SCHOOL BOYS’ VARSITY HEAD COACH – EPISODE 579
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here this morning without my co-host Jason Sunkle, but I am pleased to be joined by Jack Agostino currently the head coach at Bay Shore High School in the state of New York. Jack, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
[00:00:16] Jack Agostino: Hey Mike, thanks for having me on. This is an exciting time in basketball history unprecedented times, to be honest with you, but it’s just an exciting time.
So I really look forward to it.
[00:00:26] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, pretty crazy with all the COVID stuff going on. And it sort of felt like we were past that and now everybody’s having to go back and deal with it for a second time and figure out what that’s going to look like. And I’m sure we’ll get into exactly how you’re trying to navigate that with your current team.
Let’s start by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about your first experiences with the game of that.
[00:00:46] Jack Agostino: It’s amazing. Basketball was never my first love when I was growing up, I was a baseball guy, my whole life. I prayed to God every day. It got on my hands and knees and beg to be a professional baseball player.
And it clearly didn’t work out for me in that, that area. But God had a different plan for me. And I, I really started playing basketball when I was probably like 12, 13 years old. I was a late starter in the business. I played CYO and wasn’t very good. And then I, I made the middle school team, but didn’t play a lot.
I made the high school team JV and bossy, never got minutes. I think my career high was 11 points. And I think my career total in high school was like 19 points. So I didn’t get a lot of plans on, but what I did do is I really listened to the coach and I really looked at what he was doing. I was amazed at like you can run certain things and do certain things with your team, if everybody’s on the same page. And we know we were at a pretty good high school team and we had great friendships, but the culture wasn’t really connected to the players. And as I grew older, I started to coach or like a CYO basketball that I saw at the coach, like, oh, travel baseball teams. And I’m like maybe this is my calling and this is where God is heading me to.
And, and it really turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I became a head varsity basketball coach at 24 years old at Amityville. So it was just an amazing journey that I’ve been on. And with the opposite of the downs, it, I never thought it would be basketball would be my life. I really thought it would be a different sport, baseball, football, and God laughs at man’s plan for sure.
[00:02:36] Mike Klinzing: Those other sports that made you think, Hey, maybe I’m going to end up here as opposed to basketball. And why do you think ultimately it happened to be basketball? Just circumstance?
[00:02:45] Jack Agostino: Yeah, I think, my father was a truck driver. My mom was a stay at home mom. We I’m one of nine children. So I come from a very big family.
You know, my father was just crying every day. You know, you’d be out of the house by five. Wouldn’t be home until nine and 10. So he never spent time with us playing sports or doing things like that. But what you did teach all of us is that work ethic. And I think that’s. I took from my father more than anything, not, not his knowledge or love for sports, but how hard he would work for his family.
And I think that was really important. So what I did is I grew up playing football and baseball. We really didn’t have a lot of friends that played basketball. We didn’t have basketball courts or anything in our neighborhood. So it wasn’t really something that I was totally into, except I think I was in sixth grade.
And I did try out for this travel team. Well, sorry about that. I did try out for a travel team and I made it and I had a really good coach and I’ll remember, his name is Dick Kendall. And he ended up being the head coach at Stony Brook university, which is a, it was a division three at that time, but it’s a division one school now and he wouldn’t really add rate or understanding of the game.
So I think just me being around sports helped me to really get into the career.
[00:04:05] Mike Klinzing: When you look back at your childhood and you mentioned it, no, not having a basketball court. And you think about the way that your kids, that you’re coaching today, the way they grew up in the game versus the way that you grew up playing sports, or I grew up playing sports.
When you think about that, just what are you, some of your memories and maybe not even basketball related, but just growing up as a kid and the way sports were different for somebody who was. Eight years old to 15 years old back when we were kids versus what the kids that you’re coaching today in high school, what their experiences are like, just maybe compare and contrast the two child.
[00:04:40] Jack Agostino: Well, I can tell you this. When I grew up there weren’t leagues, there weren’t trainers. There were, there wasn’t anything. It was, you leave your house at nine 10 in the morning, go up to the baseball field, go into the streets, just play all day sports. It was like so much fun. Like no parents watching you, no pressure, just to have fun with your friends and good neighborhoods that we had.
A lot of kids, my age that will play in Amityville, to be honest with you is very similar to my background because you know, it’s not a very wealthy area and they didn’t have trainers. So all the kids in Amityville would do is meet up at the park and play. So I, I really had a good connection in my younger days with the kids from Amityville, because they really couldn’t afford trainers.
Even though those were out there, they would just go to the park from early in the morning to late at night and play basketball. And I think that really helped my coaching career a lot just to have kind of a similar upbringing. And I know today, like I coach at Bayshore and these kids are going to trainers.
These kids have a lot more avenues to get better, but in the Amityville days, when I first thought it back in 1986, They did not do that. There was just nothing happened. There was no real AAU programs. It was just, everything was to the park, go to the park, go to the park. And I feel very blessed that I could connect pretty much with those kids, even though I wasn’t playing basketball, I was playing baseball football.
It’s just a little different though.
[00:06:13] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. So when you think about yourself, if you reflect back on the first few years there as a head coach, What’s something that when you look back on it, you think, Ooh man, I wasn’t very good at that particular aspect of coaching, but over time I really improved.
And I know the answer to this question that everybody gives is there’s too many things to list that, that I needed to work on. But if you think back what’s one or two things that when you look back on it, you’re like, man, I really, I really did get better at those over my career. And I, I really sort of did a disservice to my first team or to
[00:06:49] Jack Agostino: You’re exactly right.
It’s sad to think back how I did start now. Again, I had zero varsity basketball experience, so I took over at 24. So at 23, I was the JV girls coach in my home district, not even where I worked at Amity though. So I worked with them. And then when I was 21, I took a bunch of kids from the neighborhood where I lived to Villanova basketball camp and it was a great experience. So I was kind of trying to get myself into coach and I really wanted to coach. And I looked back to my team when my first game I ever played against this is an amazing story. Bob McKillop, who was the head coach of Davidson was a legend on long island.
And we played him the first, my first game ever. It was on December 7th, 1987. I believe it was. And you know, December 7th, such a historic day, Pearl Harbor, I mean, I got bombed by this guy. He just totally blew me out of the waters, my team. We couldn’t bring them all up at half court. And I think what I had no knowledge of X’s and O’s like, that’s one thing.
I didn’t know anything about basketball. I figured. All right, I got a bunch of athletic kids. Get them the run, get them the press. But man, I knew nothing about press breakers. I knew nothing about pulling the ball out, run some half quarter. I was just so clueless when it came to that. So clueless and I had to take over.
This is a crazy story, too, that Fred Williams was a legendary athlete from Amityville. He came back to Amityville to play in division one basketball. He was the head coach for seven years. He gets hit with pancreatic cancer. So he finds out he’s getting pancreatic cancer around. He gets pancreatic cancer around Halloween, October 31st, the athletic director goes around the whole school district and says, do you want to be the basketball coach?
You want to be basketball? I think five guys turned the position down. The athletic director got wind that I coached middle JV girls basketball came to me said, would you take the job on an interim basis? Yeah, of course, I’d say, how do I not take it? So the JV guy who was there for 20 plus years did not want the job because he knew it was impossible shoes to fill in, but I wasn’t from the community.
I didn’t know anything about Amityville really, except for the apical whorehouse. It’s the only thing I ever knew about. And so I said, yeah, I’ll take it. So I go to visit Fred Williamson hospital and, and I speak to him. It was like one of the saddest moments of my life. When I think about it, like, he was a very thin man, tall six’six”, African-American the community’s all African-American.
I looked at him in his hospital bed and his stomach was. Protruding out like he was pregnant, so it didn’t look good for the guy. But I did say to him, I said, Fred, I got you, whatever you get back, it’s your job. I’ll just hold this job until you get back. And he was very appreciative and he couldn’t really talk too much, but I I made a nice connection fast forward.
This is around the beginning of November. He dies. He passes away around Thanksgiving and now try out start the next day. So I’m in charge of all these kids who just lost the greatest role model they ever had a father figure. I’m a young white guy coming into a predominantly black area and I have to take over one of the best programs around.
And so in, in the county that we live in. So it was just so overwhelming. And I know I didn’t answer your question totally, but. I had a lot, a lot of issues to deal with. I wasn’t even thinking about the X’s and O’s part of basketball. I didn’t even know what to do when the team, anybody I’m telling you, you couldn’t be more clueless to the game than I was.
And again, I didn’t grow up as a basketball guy, so I had really no clue what to do, but boy, things change. They change. And again, I said it in the beginning God laughs at man’s point. Cause I would never imagine how I would take over this program or take over a basketball program.
[00:11:15] Mike Klinzing: I think that the most important thing you had to do was just build relationships with the kids and the community and the program.
When you look back on it, is that something that was critical?
[00:11:27] Jack Agostino: I mean, I’m going to probably say this a thousand times on your podcast. That’s the only way I survived. I could not, I was not a good coach. I’m telling you straight up, but what I was good at. People skills and relationship building. And I I know that’s another blessing from God people to this day, can’t connect to kids like I was able to, and again, I’m not trying to brag, but it was the only gift that I had to go into this business.
So now I take over, continue with the story. We played Bob McKillop, Long Island Lutheran national powerhouse program. He’s an amazing coach. And, and to this day I still speak with him every now and then. And he tells me the same thing. I said, coach, I mean, you beat me by 66 points. He’s like, well, if I didn’t beat you like that, you might not really have become the coach you are because you realize you gotta put the work in. And I was like, yeah, you’re right. You’re right. Because it really motivated me. Like I did not want to be embarrassed again as a coach. You know, throughout my career, but my second game of the year I did get a little better. We lost by like 44 points, third game, getting better.
We lost by 20 plus points. I’d be like, all right, I’m move it up. And then the fourth game of the year, we’re playing to the defending a long Island champion, which you know, it’s a pretty important position. You ended up going to the final four to states. And so I’m planning, they return their whole team and I’m in the locker room and I really don’t know what to do to make this thing better.
Like I’m talking to my JV guy and he was a football guy too, so he wasn’t a basketball guy, but he was in a business that had a little clue what to do. And I just seriously got no idea. I keep repeating myself and I, the night before I got on my hands and knees and I begged God, help me, help me, help me.
We’re losing at halftime. The most of the kids were in the corner. Just killing me. I can hear them. I could feel that kill me. He don’t know what he’s doing. He’s terrible. He’s horrible. And I see one or two kids on the other side, trying to like bring the group together. And these two kids, I’ll never forget them.
Mikey Benedict and Mike Addison, who were juniors at the time said, coach, just be yourself. How’s that? I almost get tears thinking about that. I was like, yeah, I can’t be Fred Williams. I can’t be anybody else. I have to be myself. So that’s when I realized that you build this relationship with these guys, get them to trust you.
And then the excellence will take care of itself. Lo and behold, we ended up winning the game and the trust started to to develop. And I still don’t know how I did it, but I ended up making the playoffs that year, which was an amazing accomplishment. I think we’re going to win any game. So we ended up making it to the first round of the county playoffs.
We lost at the buzzer, terrible coaching decision on my part, but they were all juniors. So the whole team was returning. So I was like, all right, this is when it starts coaching. And that’s when I decided to bring the group to Villanova basketball camp. I drove them everywhere. They want to play in the city.
They jumped in my car and we drove to the city. If you want to play out in a summer league, that was 30 miles away. I drove them everywhere. I fed them every. And I really believed that that was my strength and coaching that I can pay for things. They didn’t have anything. So I bought and you know, today you probably be getting a lot of trouble driving kids all over the place.
Man. I took them on college visits. I had one division, one players, none of us knew Wilson. And he was being recruited by St. John’s and failing. I took him everywhere to play because I want him to get the exposure. You can ask my wife. I was never home. I mean, she never, never saw me until late at night. So I was leaving to go teach during the day, then after school.
And this was after basketball season, I’m driving these kids all over the world. And I knew that the only way like Mike Addison and Mikey Benedict told me be yourself, coach. I knew that I’m good with people and relationships and that’s what helped go get it going. So I’m going, I’m going on a lot. I’m sorry. I know.
[00:15:46] Mike Klinzing: I always tell people whenever a guest apologizes to me for being too long-winded or talking too long, I always reply with the idea that look that makes my job a lot easier. It’s the guys who don’t talk that are more difficult. The guys who love to talk that makes it easy. I don’t have to ask as many questions.
You just go off on you just go off on a rampage and you’re ready to go. So, no, I think what, what I hear you saying and what it sounds like is that that be yourself comment is sort of a turning point for you and your career, obviously really early on, where you just are like, Hey, look, I got to be who I am.
And then from there you just kind of took the reins and then utilize the strengths and what you had in order to start to build the program. And I’m assuming that not only being yourself, but I’m also assuming that as you became more consumed with the job that you started to look around for ways to. Be able to improve some of those things that maybe you felt like you weren’t as strong at like, Hey, I got to dive into some more X’s and O’s and I got to learn how to become a better coach.
So how did you go about doing that? Did you have mentors in the business that you reached out to you where you, where you reading at that point? Obviously video wasn’t quite as easy to be able to watch the way it would be today. So what did you do to improve as a coach? Once you realized that, Hey, this is something that I think is going to be my passion for the rest of my life.
[00:17:06] Jack Agostino: Well, I think the biggest thing are where those team camps, like when I went to those camps at Villanova Jay Wright was the director of basketball operations. Now he’s the legendary coach over there. Rollie Massimo. They always brought in these guest speakers. And I would just sit there and take notes and take notes.
So I loved that part of it. And then I started networking with these other coaches guys from New Jersey guys from Pennsylvania and they said, oh, it was a great clinic. Why don’t you come to the clinic? So I was like, yeah, I’ll definitely do this. I ended up going to so many clinics, but I think my, my greatest knowledge came from those camps.
So I became, I started work in five-star basketball camp and that’s like every great coach you ever wanted to meet. They work this camp. And there was another coach. Another camp called Metro index is kind of like, five-star wasn’t as popular, but it was the same sort of concept. So I would go to these camps and just they, they pay you like.
50 cents an hour. You’ll work from 7:00 AM to 12. You sit with the college coaches to professional coaches and they, they start doing X’s and O’s. And I mean, I was just, I couldn’t stop doing it. And they gave her free pizza and beer. So I was like, that’s even better for me.
[00:18:26] Mike Klinzing: Those after hours coaches meetings are the best.
[00:18:29] Jack Agostino: The best, those that, that was where I feel like I got so much out of it and I still, it still took me a lot of years to figure it out.
And it’s weird. I’ve been in the business for over 30 years right now, and I’m always learning. And I think that’s something other coaches who are listening to this podcast, you can never stop learning you from I’m 59 years old. I started in a business at 24 years old. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that.
I don’t speak to somebody about basketball and like my sons now they’re both coaches. One’s a varsity coach. Oh, I’m on the island. My other son is an assistant coach, my younger brothers, or all varsity coaches on long island. And even my brother, Ralph, who lives in Ohio, he’s got he dabbled in coaches, CYO and you know, local stuff.
And every day we talk about basketball, it’s unbelievable. Play golf four or five hour rounds. It’s almost all basketball. We talk toward a golf match or unless someone’s kicking a ball out of the woods, but for the most part, I never stopped learning and I never will. I never will. Like, my son comes over he’s.
He’s 30 years old, Joe, andhe’s struggling this year. This is his first year coaching varsity and I told him the same thing. I said, Joel, just think about my first four or five, six games. I was horrible. It took me years to develop what he knows. His knowledge is ridiculous compared to mine.
Like I keep telling him his area isn’t as talented as Amityville, but his knowledge is 10 times greater than mine. So he will get it right. You just gotta stick with it. You gotta always try to learn and you know, any coach out there, young guys don’t ever stop learning. I, I love going to like CYO games.
You know, if I know somebody’s claim or middle-school games, JV games, I love watching baseline out of bounds, place, sideline out of bounds plays. I love to watch what they do versus zone what they do against man. I like to see their different defenses. So I’m always like taking no mental notes when I’m watching.
Oh, the coach’s coach. And even you watch games, NBA games on TV. I mean, they’re the greatest coaches in the world. They’re, they’re amazing. And then you look at you know, college guys unbelievable. The knowledge these guys have. Unbelievable. So don’t stop learning.
[00:20:58] Mike Klinzing: Are you a paper and pencil notebook guy, or have you transferred your note-taking to computer phone?
How do you, how do you operate in terms of keeping track of all the things that you see when you’re out watching games or watching tape?
[00:21:12] Jack Agostino: Well, now it’s easy because you got your phone and you just go into the notes and you just write them down like that. So it looks like you’re not stealing anybody’s ideas.
It is amazing. You know, I’ve been around basketball, like I said, in Suffolk county, which is the county we live in sort of so many years people, I walk into the gym, like I’m pretty well known and. I love to speak to all the younger coaches and I love to tell them like, wow, that was really good stuff.
You ran. That’s really good. I’d love the way your kids play. And I think that’s something too, as an older guy that this culture fraternity, you know? Yeah. We’re competing every day against each other, but we’re also here to help each other out. And I just played a game against a young coach and his team is really good and they’d beat us up pretty good.
And I said to him after the game, and I was really impressed with you with your team’s effort. I think that’s, what’s the difference in the game, your effort. And I know he really appreciates that because that didn’t happen to me when I was younger. A couple of guys said some good things to me and I, and I’ll get into that a second, but I think it’s really important for other coaches to support other coaches.
They understand that like where I’m going with that.
[00:22:23] Mike Klinzing: Do you think that, and I I’m guessing I know the answer to this question, but I want to ask it anyway, because I think it leads to an interesting discussion. Do you think. Coach’s today compared to when you first started are more open, willing to share what they do, both from an X’s and O’s and a culture and a team building standpoint.
Cause I feel like you go back to the era when you and I were growing up or when I was a player. So I’m talking late eighties, nineties that I think coaches, it felt like they were more, I don’t know, secretive is the right word, but they kept things close to the vest. Whereas now everything is out there.
You can obviously go on huddle or synergy, whatever, and you can see every single thing that everybody’s running. So even if you have some great thing that you think is proprietary, that nobody else can ever take, look, everybody’s seeing it. Everybody’s going to figure it out. And I think what that’s done in my opinion at least is it’s opened up people to say, Come to our practice.
Hey, you want me to, you want to learn more about the matchup half-court zone trap that we run? Sure. Give me a call. I’ll share whatever I can. And I just feel like it’s opened up the coaching profession in a way that 20 or 30 years ago, it wasn’t the same and not that guys weren’t friendly or whatever, but I just don’t think that there was as much sharing as there is today.
Have you found that over the course of your career? Well,
[00:23:43] Jack Agostino: I think it’s, I think in my personal experience, I’ve always had good connections with other coaches. So what I did is I would ask a Jay Wright, who was the Hofstra coach, could I come to your practice? I would always. And they were always willing to let you in.
So I thought that was pretty good, but I think the biggest thing today is that coaches are a little bit more insecure with themselves today. And the reason I’m saying that, because you do see everything they’re doing right extras out there. So I think that’s, that’s the difference. You know, when you were coaching back then nobody knew I was a terrible coach.
I probably did, but they weren’t seeing it every single day. And they were posting
[00:24:25] Mike Klinzing: on social media every day.
[00:24:27] Jack Agostino: This guy is horrible. Is that, I mean, I heard it from the barbershop. You know, people come back to me and say, well, killing your coach. They kill you the barbershops. All right. But I’m going to get bad.
I promise you. But today. You know, if you blow up on a kid, it gets like really ugly at times you kill guys’ careers, like sometimes. And I think that’s why coaches a little bit, a little bit more insecure today versus back in the day, like everybody’s afraid they’re going to steal your ideas. And back in the days, they didn’t really think that way, even though people were doing it anyway, it happened, it just wasn’t out there.
And I think that’s what makes it coaching so much harder today versus back then everything was. Right.
[00:25:10] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. You’re not surprising anybody anymore with what we do in very, I guess in very rare instances, maybe you still can, but for the most part, because everything’s an open book and video is so prevalent and available and easy to use again, compared to, I’m sure when you start and you’re on the VHS tapes and all that kind of stuff, trying to rewind and catch clips and all that compared to what we have today, it’s, it’s not even, it’s not even comparable in any way, shape or form.
[00:25:35] Jack Agostino: So let’s just kind of before, just real quick. This is what I just the other day. So my games now are a livestreamed through the gymnasium. So as soon as. You know, you, you don’t have to have a camera guy anymore. It’s just, they film the games and all your home games and it goes right onto hudl.
So our game was delayed a little cause the referee was running late. So the other team went into the locker room. So I only, I don’t even remember we’re being filmed right now. So I’m going over my half court office. I’m going over my base on out of that stream. There you go. You can see what I’m running.
So it’s not like, and we weren’t even running it well with no defense out there. So we’re having trouble with the events. So I’m like, okay. So everybody in the world knows my little half-court offense and I’m put in my new baseline out of bounds. But it’s just funny because like, I would have never thought that.
And then when I get home and I’m like, I’m going over to tape and I’m like, wow, this athletic director just filmed my whole
[00:26:32] Mike Klinzing: I missed, I missed the manager’s comments. The guys who’s filming the camera who’s filming the game. You don’t get to hear those anymore where the manager or the manager mistakenly starts swearing about something or start saying that that was a, that was a stupid play to coach just ran. And then you get to hear that you get to hear that in the film session.
Those, I mean, I missed, I missed, I missed, I missed those days. I miss those days. So going back to where you are with Amityville early in your career. So obviously the program has had some success. How do you go about building it into a team that eventually wins multiple state championships? What does that look like?
What do you think were some of the keys to what you eventually were able to do? Obviously we’ve already mentioned one. Building relationships with your kids and basically doing anything that you possibly could to help them. Not only get better as basketball players, but to give them opportunities off the basketball floor as well.
So beyond that, what do you think were one or two of the keys that if there’s a high school coach out there listening that might be replicable for somebody else that you think led to your success?
[00:27:42] Jack Agostino: The next part of the equation was to get to the younger group of kids. So I connected with our local CYO program, which was same ones and a man named Richie Cronin, Anthony proceedo, who’s now the head coach at St.
Leo’s in Tampa, Florida for the women’s program and a Wayne Jones. So I connected with these three guys and they had a really good youth program. Like that CYO program was really good. So I would go and. Do some free clinics for them, even, they knew more than I than to be honest with. You just know that to meet the kids and see them.
And then I used to go down to the elementary school. So I knew the phys ed guys down. And so I would go in there and speak with them. I would bring a couple of older players with me or seniors and let them speak to the kids. And I thought that was really, really a good way to connect to the younger group because the area is very talented, but a lot of those kids would transfer out to the private schools.
So now this is a public school, a small public school. It just wasn’t as many opportunities for them to go on to college playing in a small public school, they had a way better chance going into the bigger private schools. So I was like, I, I have to stick with the youth. So I would always go down to the elementary schools.
I would always connect with the CYO guys. I would go to their games. They would say coach JAG, we’re playing in a championship game Sunday at four. Well guess what I’m there? So I was at my, my face was always around. So now these younger kids start to connect with me also. So then my wife and I, who really deserves so much credit I, I CA I said, I’m going to have to speak to speak about her eventually.
So this is really funny and I’ll get back to the story. So my wife, I get elected into the New York state hall of fame. I got elected into the Amityville hall of fame. I get them long down the hall of fame. I never thank my wife, but today on this podcast, I think every young coach should thank their wives for being so supportive.
And I got out there. Her name is Debbie. She’s an unbelievable mom, wife, friend. She’s the key to my success. There’s no doubt about it. So her and I ended up starting a basket. She would do all the paperwork, everything, and there was no computers then. And in Amityville sort of summer, we would charge kids like 10 bucks to come to this basketball camp.
I had over a hundred kids in this camp. We would give out Gatorades, we’d give out awards. And then I would use my older guys to work that the kids that were seniors and going on to college and all they would do was just watch me work. They would just sit in and I was like can you go help this guy?
Like Mike James, who’s an NBA player. I might take that team and put half-court office in for show a coach. Like I always had the coach them during the camp time. But I think once I started running that camp and, and connecting with the youth programs and getting down to the elementary schools in the middle school, I felt like that really helped propel the program.
I think that was really a big cake.
[00:30:50] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. There’s two things there. I’ve had this conversation with multiple high school coaches where I really think that this is one of the things that I think sometimes today, I don’t, I don’t know if it’s as prevalent as it was, but I do think that being visible, like you mentioned, and going to as a high school, varsity coach going and watching the younger kids in your school system and your feeder program, whatever it is, wherever the kids that are ultimately gonna go to your high school being visible.
So those kids know who you are and you know them by name or by phase. You get to know some parents, there’s nothing more valuable. There’s nothing more valuable than that. And I think that those kids then get a chance to see you and say, Hey, one day I’d like to play for coach Augustino. And if they don’t know who you are, they’re never going to feel that way.
And then to go along with that same thing, by having the camp and having your varsity players work with those kids now, We talked about relationships earlier. So now those youth players are building a relationship with those varsity players, makes them want to come to a game on Friday night. Now they watch them play.
They’re like, Hey, that was my coach at camp. Wow. Someday I’d like to be that kid who’s out there and it just gives them this aspirational feel of someday. I want to suit up for Amityville high school. And I think if you don’t have that, it becomes really easy, especially in today’s transfer crazy world.
You come up and it used to be, I think that if you went to public school, you kind of knew who your teammates were. Like. I look back and my pictures of third, fourth grade basketball, and I look at the kids and all the kids that were playing on teams that I was on were either my teammates as high school basketball players, or they were some of the better athletes that just ended up going into a, a different sport with no.
Nobody went to this school or transfer to that school. It was over here. Whereas now, if you don’t build the connections and really recruit your own players, it gets really, really tough if you’re not building those relationships. I think those are two really key points that I can see where being able to develop your program, that that was critical for you to be able to do that.
You mentioned Mike James, not many guys get an opportunity to coach an NBA player. So talk a little bit about what that experience was like, how special it was when you recognize that. Oh my gosh. Like I have a guy here who he’s got a chance to maybe play at the highest level. Maybe what set him apart as a player that allowed him to get to that point in his career?
[00:33:24] Jack Agostino: Wow. I’m smiling right here because I never believed he would be an NBA player. I never believed that he was undersized, loved basketball, had tremendous passion for basketball. And you know, he grew by his, his junior year. He was knocked down three point shooter. He was very good ball handler. He wasn’t being recruited.
So like, I didn’t know anybody who was big time players at that time. And you know, like I know that he was on a few circuits. I was like, okay. So at least he’s going to get out there. Nobody’s recruiting the kid, nobody. So I’m like, whatever thought this kid’s going to be an NBA player, but that’s one little advice I wanted to give to young coaches too.
You know, everybody has these issues with AAU guys that you can’t, you got to put it aside, you and you guys have to work together. And that’s another benefit that I’ve really established. I think on long island, I probably have the greatest connections with these AAU guys because they wanted my players as we got better, but I also wanted them to get great exposure in the AAU circuit is where you’re going to get the exposure.
The college guys mainly go out in the summer. You know, before all this COVID stuff so that you need to have a connection with a good AAU program. And so there’s a guy in our area and then Gary, Charles, who’s a legend on the AAU circuit. He knows everybody in the business and I’m still friendly with him today.
And so many people go behind us backwards, so negative about them. And I thought that was total BS. I wanted to build that relationship with Gary. And to this day, he really helped me out a lot as a young coach really helped me out a lot. Yes, he was taking my players and bringing them all over the place and maybe he could have fed them to a private school.
You know, who’s maybe give us some donations to that, to his program. But all I knew is that that AAU connection was very important for me and my success. And I think every, every high school coach should not take it as a personal insult or disrespect to, to them that their kids don’t play the right way in a.
You want your kids to get as much exposure as possible. And I think that’s another part of my, my legacy and how many vote. Once I got connected to AA pro AAU programs, I was able to get kids into college a lot easier. Like I, they saw them on a circuit so I can make a phone call. Did you see Jay join? Did you see Mike James?
Did you see these guys? And then all of a sudden college coaches were starting to call me and they saw me at all the AAU events also. So as a young coach going forward, don’t be in secure, be confident that you will, you and the AAU coach will help build your program.
[00:36:12] Mike Klinzing: That’s really a two way street from a standpoint of, I always look at that relationship between a high school coach and an AAU coach or an AAU program, as, as long as both parties are doing what they’re doing with the best interest of the player front of mind that I think those relationships were great.
I think sometimes when. Coaches on either side of that equation, get Tara get territorial, or you hear somebody say, oh, that’s my player. Well, not really you’re, you’re there, you’re there, hopefully as a coach to serve the player. Now, granted players going to help you win games and be a part of your program, but ultimately you, as the coach are there to help your player.
And hopefully on the AAU side, that’s the same thing. And when you get somebody who is a good quality, a new coach running a good quality AAU program, they know why they’re there. They’re there to help players get better and get opportunities to play in the off season. But also, as you said, to get exposure to college coaches, because we all know that when a college coach can go out and go to an AA tournament and see 25 players that they might recruit versus going to one high school game, it’s just not as efficient.
And then now, as you mentioned with COVID, coaches are fine, even more so in the film is so good anymore. And every single thing is available. That you can, now you can find guys anywhere, but I think that relationship between a high school coach and an AAU coach, you hit on it. That it’s really critical. If you can form good relationships, it can be a positive for both your program as a high school coach, but also for your players.
And conversely, if you look at it and you’re insecure or you don’t feel like it’s going to be a good relationship, you can kind of sabotage players, maybe unintentionally, but you can still sabotage them. If there’s, if there’s that wall between the high school program and an AAU program. I just think you’re doing your kids a disservice.
And ultimately to me, you have to do what’s best for the kids.
[00:38:11] Jack Agostino: You know, the one thing the AAU circuit is unbelievable. Mike, I don’t know if you’ve been on the highest level, but I have been, and there’s not a lot of guys in the business that really want. Take the kid’s best interest. It’s the AAU guys do look out for themselves and their program.
But with that being said, I still think the most important relationship you can get is even with those guys that might not have the student athletes best interests at heart, you still have to have that because that highest level. And I had some high major division one players. Without me having that connection.
I’m not sure I could’ve got those kids to that, to that point. I know. Cause I just didn’t have the opportunities to, to know, right. Like Sonny Vaccaro to me is a man who transformed high school basketball. You know, he was, he was the guy who signed Michael Jordan. He’s the guy who signed Colby bright. He signed LeBron James.
Like he was there and I would have never met him if it wasn’t for Gary Hall. And to me, he’s one of the biggest inspirations in my life to be careful because he absolutely had the kids’ best interests. Beat up in the media every now and then he was screaming. He was never like that. His wife, Pam and him were amazing to these families.
And I’m talking about kids that had nothing like he would, he would fly them all over the country to play in tournaments. He would put them up in hotels. He would be feeding them. That to me, that was, he was the father of AAU basketball. So everybody took their, their information from him. So even though it doesn’t always seem like on the surface that these AAU guys have the, the student athletes best interest in the long run, they really do.
And I know it’s not always clear, but I’ve witnessed it all my own. That it is very, very important to have that connection. If you want your kids to be at the highest level.
[00:40:15] Mike Klinzing: Right. They have to be able to get that exposure to college coaches. And it’s much more difficult, I think, at the high school level again, just because we talked about where you put in a whole bunch of players, In the same place at the same time, you’ve got a bunch of high level players playing on the same team planning as high level competition.
And then they, you guys are motivated from a standpoint of building those relationships with college coaches, because then the better, the relationships that they have with college coaches, the better relationships they can have with players and high school coaches and get more people into their program.
And. It’s all just this big, long cycle that it’s, it’s interesting how it all, how it all works.
[00:40:56] Jack Agostino: It’s unbelievable machine. So you have a joint forces. You can not stop the machine. You can’t fight. The machine machine is so powerful and, and really it starts with the college coaches. You know, the college coaches are the ones who are feeding these AAU programs.
That’s where it’s coming from. And not even the college, it’s the sneaker companies. They’re feeding the AAU program. So it’s, it’s all about getting that next Kobe, get the next, LeBron, get the next Michael, that, that’s how it was. And Sonny Vaccarro was the grandfather, but what happened with Mike James?
Going back to him, he got with Gary Charles and a neighbor called the Morgan Allen Panthers. And. You know, Gary was just kind of starting out. And Mike James was one of his first group of young guys to really hit the national circuit. And my games played with Zen and Hamilton. So now Mike is getting himself a lot of explosion, zero to do with me because again, he was being recruited by nobody.
So he comes back his senior year and he had an unbelievable junior year. You think everybody in more than this kid, but you know, that’s just not happening. So he goes on, the circuit has a great summer circuit going into senior year and I’m still only one or two schools are recruiting them the division two schools.
And I remember the one school, I’m not going to name their names, but they took him up for. It was in New Hampshire. We don’t want to also, it’s a cold area that he just wanted to go and play college basketball somewhere. And the coach calls me up after the visit says not his kid’s not good enough to play division two basketball.
I’m like, wow, that’s amazing. Then I’m calling Jay Wright and he always at Hofstra, I’m like, Jay, what do you think? He says, nah, he’s not good enough to play at out level. And I don’t know how to tell the kid this. I keep his kid is determined to be in division one player. So we, Gary Hall’s hooks up a prep school for him.
Kid goes to prep school and blows up on his prep school circuit. So now fairly Dickinson finally comes in, kind of starts recruiting them. Cause Gary Charles has a great relationship with the coaches and the kid plays in one more tournament. Last tournament, Duquesne university comes down and looking for a point guard.
They come down because of Gary Charles and the kid plays amazing in this park pickup game basically. So they sign him right there. He goes into the Atlantic 10, my James. Kills the Atlantic 10. Then he gets his his degree in child psychology, which I was still proud of. He ends up playing overseas for a couple of years and pat Riley and his crew kind of saw my James and this work ethic that this kid is like the German.
He will not leave the court. And pat Riley signed them with the Miami heat and the kid ended up spending 13 years in the NBA, winning the NBA championship with the Detroit pistons. I was taken to so many great games, great venues, just because of my Jameson and going back, he really was not considered of the visual one player, but the one thing that separated him from everybody else is his work ethic.
Going back to that, like kid would, he lived right behind the park in the area. His house was right behind the park. So he would go out there, shovel, shovel, snow. He would just go every day and shoot and shoot and play and play. And to this day, I’ve never met a player that put in more time than my James.
And that’s why he’s in the NBA. I had a great NBA.
[00:44:25] Mike Klinzing: You just don’t hear about guys. We have success without some version of that story that you just told. It’s very, very rare that you hear the story. I guess every once in a while you can have a guy who’s just an unbelievable athlete that, that doesn’t have the work ethic.
And he’s probably just a guy that doesn’t ever reach his potential, but may, may be a good player so that because they just have tools, but guys who reach that highest level, those stories rarely come without the one that you just told about Mike James, where. I do whatever it takes and I’m relentless.
And I put the work in, I put the time in, I keep improving. I keep getting better. And again, it just shows you that scouting and figuring out who can play and who can’t. It’s still either with all, even with all the tools that we have today and all the film and all the information that these teams gather, you still don’t know.
And ultimately, when you think about guys who have success in the NBA and you talk to NBA people, or you just read stories, it ultimately comes down to the guys who have the most success, the guys who end up maximizing their potential, whether that means they’re an all NBA player, whether that means they’re able to be the 10th man on a bench somewhere, those guys get there because.
They put the work in and they put the work in on the floor, they study film, they do all those things. And if you’re not going to do that, you’re just not going to, you’re just not going to have success at those highest levels. It’s just, it’s almost impossible.
[00:45:47] Jack Agostino: Impossible. That is so true. Those stories my favorite player of all time is Kobe Bryant.
I just love talking about Kobe. And I met him a couple of times and he spoke to kids. I was, I always was blessed enough to work the ABCD camps, which very few high school coaches get to work. But once I started getting some great players, I started getting invited to these things through Sonny Vaccarro and Gary Charles, and Kobe would come in and speak all the time.
And he just talked about that. It’s about the work. You really don’t understand if you want to make it. It’s about putting in that work. Like every kid pretty much, and you got some skills, you put that work. There is, nobody can stop you, but kids are not willing to do that as much as you think, like it’s so, so hard to get to that level.
And they don’t understand what the work that Kobe was talking about. And I tried to explain it to my team today and they just don’t understand it. Like, it’s hard to explain unless you Kobe spoke to you coming from me a little different,
[00:46:55] Mike Klinzing: But even that it’s almost like you’d have to, you’d have to watch like a 24 hour a day reality show of Kobe for a week to really get a feel for what, for what that takes. You know what I mean? And obviously he’s on the maniacal side of even, even beyond what you would normally say is a tremendous work ethic.
I think Kobe’s work ethic second to none, probably anybody’s who’s ever played the game, but it’s just, you think about trying to explain that to a high school player and I always equate it to, when you ask a kid, Hey. You think you played hard in that game and we all know the answer that a kid’s going to give to their coach.
Right? Every kid’s going to say, yeah, I played hard and yet you can go watch the film and point out 50 instances of where they probably didn’t. But at the same time in their, in their mind, they just can’t make that they can’t make that leap. Whether that’s through their own understanding of the game, whether that’s through maturity, whatever it is, it’s just such a different way of looking at it. Yeah. You can’t explain it and it’s just different. And again, we’ve talked about it before a little bit earlier about how kids today with the trainers and with the AAU circuit different, you mentioned five star earlier. I think about if you took a kid who was a top 20 player nationally right now today, and you said, Hey, we’re going to fly out to Robert Morris college and they’re going to play basketball for eight hours a day on some converted tennis courts in a hundred degree in a hundred degree weather on.
That kid would look at you and their family would look at you like you were completely insane. And yet for what, 25 years, 30 years saw all the best players in the country went through five star and all the best coaches. Let’s be honest. That place was just a, a complete breeding ground for great coaches, great players.
And the influence that Garfein the group there had on basketball is, I mean, it’s a measurable and it’s just, again, the system is different now and you can probably, you can make arguments both ways, but I think when you look back on those times and you think about what kids, the opportunities kids have to get into gyms and to be able to have, as you said, more resources, more avenues to be able to get better.
It’s just a totally different world than it used to be.
[00:49:18] Jack Agostino: And honestly, and it’s such a lesson for coaches. Garf and Tom Konchalski and the Sonny Vaccarros of the world, they did, they opened it up, not only for players, but for coaches to improve. And again, it’s the same thing. Some coaches aren’t willing to put the time and some can’t put the time and they got young families, but right.
Again, things just don’t happen magically the Amityville basketball program, which became a legendary program, didn’t happen magically. It was a lot involved in it. And I’m so glad I’m getting to tell my story. You know, we have the documentary out now that Richard Brown put together with the give back network and…
[00:50:01] Mike Klinzing: tell people where they can find that, let’s do that.
Now we can mention it again at the end, but tell people where they can find that.
[00:50:07] Jack Agostino: Well, Richie Brown came to me. He’s a local JV basketball coach who started his own little business, his own little network. It’s called the give back network. And. He asked me, it’s like, coach, how come nobody’s told your story?
So what exactly about it? So he ended up, and this was right in the heart of COVID back in March of 2021, there was nothing going on. I got both of the dose, they call me up, we met by a stall book. I gave them all these videos. I gave him my story. I told him my story and said, I’m a little, and could you get the players?
I said, yeah, I can get you the players. I still tremendous relationships with Mike James and Jason Fraser interest and Tristan Smith. AJ Price. They were all part of it. And we ended up putting it together, took like a year. And, and again, it’s not like ESPN 30 for 30, but it’s catching on. People are starting to like it.
He’s getting a lot of views and you know, he’s going to end up bringing it to like some different film festivals stuff and see if somebody picks up on it. But it’s a great story. And it’s called small town greatness. And really what we Amityville is a very small town of even know what the population is.
But you know, our school is not one of the biggest schools on long hours, but it’s a neighborhood of maybe like two or three mile radius that all these places. Came from, they all live in a neighborhood. I did not recruit kids. Kids would come and call me and say, I want to come to your school. I said, you got to get managers.
You’ve got to live in the area. So I had opportunities to bring in some great players where child won’t bring up any names, their parents after they saw it was all kids from the neighborhoods and neighborhood group of kids. And it’s my dog,
[00:51:55] Mike Klinzing: My dog is sitting on the bed next to me. So I’m surprised anything, anything happens at my house.
You might hear my dog too, so it’s not, so it’s not unusual. Yeah.
[00:52:04] Jack Agostino: So it was just amazing how that, that this young kid, Richie Brown ended up telling the story and you know, and again the game against LeBron puts us on the map. You know, if we don’t beat LeBron. This stuff never happens. You know, nobody’s really hearing about our story.
So I give a lot of credit. So LeBron James for my success, talk a little bit about that LeBron game. That was crazy. That was the most amazing. Tom of my life. It was a 2000 December, 2001 LeBron’s birthday. I think he’s December 3rd. If he just had his birthday, I believe, I think it’s 28 to 20. And so he turned 17 years old and we played in a national tournament down in Delaware.
And what happened is I had a great players name was Jason Fraser who ended up going to Villanova probably would have been a a high lottery pick. And he came out of high school, but he decided to go on to college and play for Jay Wright. And he got. Four straight years these surges, but he was the top five players in the class of 2001.
And if you look back to that class, that’s Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudamire, Chris Bosh. So he was top five with those guys. And so we ended up playing LeBron and this national tournament, we beat Bishop Laughlin, who is a powerhouse in New York city, a Catholic league. We beat them the first game. So we had, we stayed in this little cheesy hotel.
It was unbelievable. They put LeBron in, in a panic. Myself and Danny Hurley, who’s the head coach at UConn right now, Danny and I stayed in this little cheesy hotel. We’re like, wow, nobody’s caring about us. He coached St. Benedict’s with Jr Smith. So he played LeBron, the first game, and I kept saying, I’m scouting the game.
I’m like, ah, I don’t want to play Danny. See, this team looks really good. I’m going to play the Bronx. And LeBron’s team ended up. There’s semi-final game. We beat Bishop Lochlan. We have to wait spied more days before we play the Bron. So they made it, we played like a Monday and then we didn’t play again until a Saturday night.
So I had to babysit all these kids. I didn’t have the greatest hotel situation. It was a very tough experience. I also hadn’t had my tooth pulled, which is unbelievable. Like I had a big hole in my mouth. The kids were laughing at me the whole time at a big ad
[00:54:26] Mike Klinzing: On the road, getting on the road in Delaware.
[00:54:30] Jack Agostino: That’s no fun. No. So we ended up getting to the game and the place is packed. And the hype LeBron’s team St. Mary St. Vincent was ranked third in the country. Amityville was not on the map. We had one great player, but we did have a, a sleeper player. He was only a sophomore. His name was AIG price who didn’t have national recognition, but he was very good.
And he has opiate, an NBA player and. You know what? My kids were really excited to play somebody like LeBron and St Mary’s and Vinson, and it was just unbelievable hype machine. And there was no social media. Like we talk about, there was none of that stuff back then. It was just like some little internet sites, but it was the crowd and the atmosphere was amazing and everybody knew LeBron was going to be something special.
And he ended up getting 39 points against us. We’re winning by three with like 10 seconds left. He pulls up for three. We found them too late. We should have failed earlier, which I wasn’t a very small coach either then. And he hits the three gets the free throw. So they go up by one, his coach drew Joyce who’s son was great player at university of Akron.
And that whole crew ended up going to Akron beside LeBron and they press. You know, even though they were up by when they press us, so gave us, we we have a great press breaker. Finally, I learned from long island too, and get it to the big guy, chase her Frazier terms looks the length of the court.
He sees AIG price wide open, goes in for a layup. And I think LeBron thousands. And he had a found, cause it was two points. We went by one. So this young sophomore agent price gets to the foul line. And right before that we could have iced the game. He missed two free throws. So that’s why LeBron had the chance to make the three to Todd.
He gets up to the line. Jason Frazier goes up to him who was our senior and says, I believe in UHR, I believe in you something very positive. AIG goes down, knocks down both free throws, still two seconds left. So I’m like, ah, we got this game. We feel good about it. LeBron takes two dribbles have court. I mean.
Rattles the rim, it goes around and it doesn’t go in and we beat LeBron and how the story gets better and better. I think it’s 20 years, it’s been 20 years. The anniversary
[00:56:56] Mike Klinzing: Probably feels like it was yesterday.
[00:56:56] Jack Agostino: Oh my God. I really, I just wish it was more of the the video out there. There’s not a lot of video.
We did film the game, so you’ll see some footage, but it was a mom who was AIG’s mom who filmed the game for us. That was a video we had and people would always say, oh, can I get a copy? So I always gave it out. Like it’s probably out there somewhere, but I wasn’t even thinking about it. Like, it would be a very popular.
DVD right now.
[00:57:22] Mike Klinzing: That’s funny. There there’s a clip on Twitter right now. That’s circulating of, I don’t even know who LeBron is playing against, but it’s a, it’s a montage of about 40 seconds of LeBron high school highlights. And the caption says these highlights are all from one half of one game.
And I mean, it’s just ridiculous. I remember I saw him play once in person when he was in high school. And obviously he was not that far away from me being in Cleveland and him being an Akron. And I saw him play when he was a junior. And the thing that I remember more than anything else, obviously just from a physical, just size, speed, strength.
I mean, just, it would look like an NBA player playing against 10 year olds, but I just remember him covering the straw, like his stride length going down before, when you watch, when you watch him running down the floor compared to like a high school kid that you’re used to watching. And I remember 2, 3, 4 steps.
And he’s just from half court and he’s at the basket dunking. And he just, it was just, I mean, again, there’s a, there’s a reason why he’s wherever you want to rank them in the top two, three players of all time. You know, there there’s, there’s, there’s no question that those guys are just they’re they’re built differently and he’s obviously gone on and there’s, there’s never been anybody who has had as much hype as what he had at, at age 15.
And it tends to lift off and probably, and probably exceeded it, which is almost impossible, which is almost impossible to believe. And not only exceeded it as a basketball player, but just you think about all the potential things that could have gone wrong for him off the court, or just handling the media or whatever it might be.
Let’s put it this way. His biggest misstep, probably that. Have criticized them for is the decision. And if he hadn’t, if he hadn’t made that decision on TV, I don’t think you can criticize it at all. And probably here in Cleveland, we probably feel worse about that than anybody, but man, to do what he did, especially when you consider his upbringing and background and whatever.
And so, so for you and your team and your community, to be able to have that win in your back pocket and just to be whatever, a small part of his story, but a part that, that you can always look back on it and say, yeah, we beat that guy. One once upon a time,
[00:59:38] Jack Agostino: I was going to be five high school games. He lost twice.
[00:59:43] Mike Klinzing: And then he lost and they, they didn’t win the state title. And he was a junior.
[00:59:46] Jack Agostino: Yeah. That year. Right. I think that year that they didn’t win something. Right. I remember that summer, the summer of him going into his junior year before we played them, he was at ABCD camp. And that’s when I first saw him. And I was like, wow, this kid is really something special.
And I ended up like talking with them every cause I was a coach and I would talk to the kids. I had Kendrick Perkins on my team. So I had some good players too. And you know, we play each other in these little, little tournaments that sounded the Cara would set up and it was, it was unfairly fairly in New Jersey.
And we were just sitting around watching games and his mom and him were sitting right next to me and we were talking and you know, I had Jason Frazier. So Jason Fraser was the big name at that time. And I just remember telling LeBron that. You know, keep, keep your group small. Don’t expand your group.
Cause I think that’s what happened a lot with Jason Fraser, his group got so big and had so many people tell them how to decide where to go. So I, I really learned that lesson. I did pass it on to LeBron. I’m not, I’m not even sure if he really, even the conversation, I doubt it, but it’s just something, it does seem like he keeps his inner circle very small because I think those, when that circle opens up, that’s when all the distractions and all the crazy people come in and LeBron to me looks like a great dad.
He looks like a great husband. He really is very grounded. And that to me is more, more important to me. Like I see his town and you know, his NBA championships and all that stuff, but he seems like a really good guy down to earth person. And I think. Yeah, again, social media, they have no idea who these kids are and what they came from.
And so LeBron to me is he’s not only a tremendous player, but he definitely has a special way about him. You can really sense that when you, when you talk with him, it’s something that people of Cleveland can kind of connect to. And the people the ever seen him play and have any sort of personal connection with you, you probably can sense that.
And I got the same feeling when I spoke with Kobe a couple of times too.
[01:01:45] Mike Klinzing: Same thing. I mean, it’s what makes those guys special. Obviously the basketball talent is a huge. But the ability to handle yourself in other areas of your life. And we’ve all seen. I mean, we could go through tons of stories of guys who had a lot of talent that ended up not maximizing that talent because of off-court decisions and things that they did, and just never lived up to the hype.
And there’s very, very few guys who have been hyped as much as LeBron was, especially at such an early age. And there’s nothing in his background that would suggest that he would be someone who would be as sharp with the media that would be as together off the court, as he’s been able to do. And to your point, I think you look at the success of that inner circle that he put together and what they’ve done with clutch sports and just Maverick Carter, the success he’s had.
And again, those are all guys that knew.
Right. And so there’s there, there’s very few people, I think that have cracked that circle that now didn’t know him when he was 12, 13, 14 years old. And that’s probably why he’s had so much. Yeah,
[01:02:54] Jack Agostino: He’s just a great role model. And my other quick story with him is that that year he was a senior.
He was an ABCD camp, I believe. No, maybe his junior year. I can’t remember. So I was picked to be the all-star coach. So I had Sebastian Telfair on my team. LeBron was on the other team and we had mainly the New York kids playing against the rest of the country and LeBron. So I had all these New York kids and man, they were like, Tough city kids.
They weren’t any kids from Amityville, so it was only kids. And and you also gave it, it was fairly thinkers and that’s what everybody looks forward to it. The ABCD camp was the all-star game. So they had an underclassmen, all star game and a senior. So I was a pick the coach, the underclassman, and LeBron was on the other team.
And Sebastian Telfair played in the NBA and all the guys that were on the team, we ended up beating LeBron in that game too. So I got a 2-0 record against LeBron.
[01:03:48] Mike Klinzing: that’s probably. Yeah, you probably got the best record in history.
All right. Let’s transition. Let’s move to the next stage of your career. When you decide to retire, you walk away from Amityville. You’re going to get into college coaching. Let’s talk about these next couple of phases and get you to where you are now at Bayshore. Just kind of take us through that story.
[01:04:10] Jack Agostino: sSo in 2014 crazy story that I’m telling it because I don’t care anymore. My high school team and Amityville wins the county championship. So the other team, John Glenn high school decides to place a protest against my team. And I’m like, wait, what are they protested? So I ended up, I had three kids fell out of the game.
So I put in a kid from JV, cause I had no other guards. He was in eighth grade. I put him into the game. The last 13 seconds of the game does not touch the ball. Just stands in the corner and we’re down one. I was small enough. I designed a pretty good play. We executed it. Well, we score, we win the game kid doesn’t touch the ball. The eighth grader, I get wind from the athletic director of Amityville saying that the game is on the protest because you played an illegal player. Who was the illegal player? They said the eighth grader. And I was like, what do you mean? He goes, he wasn’t cleared for varsity. I was like, sorry.
I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what. So the section committee got together and took the championship away from us, ended up giving it to the other team. I’m still to this day, mind boggled, how that happened. But you know, that was the rules. We played a kid who wasn’t ready or whatever. So now that, so that, that was 2014, it was like March, somewhere around there.
So now the community is up in arms. They’re going crazy. We had a brand new superintendent. She just takes over she’s inexperienced. She’s getting bombed by the community. Like, how can this happen? The media is again, all over, how can, how can you let this happen? How could you let this happen? So she ended up becoming very mad at me.
Like I had something to do with the community to get after it and I didn’t. And she decided to like of. You know, push her weight around and say, you know what, we’re not going to bring you back as the coach for next year. And I’m like, what? This 2000, I just wanted the county champion legend in the town community goes crazy.
Now they go ballistic and they have a big board meeting and I’m like, oh my God, this is sick. Like, they’re really going this way. So she ended up having enough. Not to recommend me for the position now, listen, God loves it, man. I’m not fighting you. I don’t care where this goes. So my son was a high school, sophomore, junior.
So I’m like, I never got to see any of my kids out for kids. They all played high school school. I never saw them play. So I’m like, ah, you don’t want this as a blessing. I’m going to go watch my son play. And you know, he has a great couple of years he’s like one of the best kids in the county.
I’m so happy for him here. He goes on to college has a pretty good career there. And his name is Jonathan and he’s, he’s my assistant coach now. So there was a time I spent with him really. Family bonding. So now we fast forward to 2017. So I’ll just kinda run running my own little program of basketball training.
I’m running camps, clinics my name is still pretty popular out there and everybody knows I got screwed by this superintendent. So I really didn’t push push for the job anymore. And they were horrible at, but didn’t even make the playoffs like a couple of years. And I’m like, oh, this is terrible.
The kids are calling them in the community. You got to come back. I can’t go back unless this lady puts me up. So I was still working in the building. And so this is the great part I spilled at two 30 every day. It was unbelievable. I had a, like a real life. I could do all the things. So now one of my former players becomes the head coach at North Carolina, Jay Joiner, gray kid, him and I have a really good relationship.
He’s like, He gets his first year, he wins three games. He goes three and 25. He knows he’s devastated. It’s like impossible. He was a junior college coach. He was an assistant coach at the division one level, but he really needed like a loyal guy with him. So he was like, coach, I really need you. Can you come down and help me out?
I said, yeah, let me try it out. I’ve always wanted to be a division one coach. And this was a great opportunity. So I ended up accepting the position 2017, but I still had to, I was 55 years old. So did, and I mentioned it before the superintendent, even though she was hating on me a little, she did sign the agreement that on my birthday, I don’t have to teach and I can get all my New York state pension.
That’s what I really wanted. So then I can make the move to North Carolina. So I go down, she, she puts in the papers and lets me retire on September 21st. So I had to work. This was the craziest time I was coaching. I started in July. In Greensboro, North Carolina. So in September, I had to fly back for a couple of days due to some work, go back to North Carolina for practice, fly back up to New York, do some work in the school, go back.
I did to do that for three weeks and I’m like, oh my God, I’m spending way more money than I making I’m flying back and forth to North Carolina. So now we get into the heart of the season. We’d like we do in pre-season workouts and I’m learning so much about coaching. And again, I was 55 years old. I had a career worth of coaching, but now with the.
It’s it takes it to a whole different level. Not even, not a high school coach, if they’ve never experienced, can understand the time you put in as a college coach. So I would, I had to do all this travel, but when I was down at the school, I had to get to the office by 8:00 AM. I wouldn’t leave the office until probably nine, 10 o’clock at night.
And in that timeframe, I had to workout with kids. I had to go recruit players. I had to go to classrooms to go check on the kids. I had to practice plan. I had to do film sessions and I’m like, this is unbelievable, but it was such a wealth of knowledge for me. I learned, and I learned, I watched film, like you said, synergy was like my best friend.
I was a pro. I could do anything on, I could clip up things. I didn’t know how to do any of that stuff. And then just when you get into the college atmosphere and the games and all the coaches are very, very talented and the players, every kid who wants to be an NBA player. So they’re really in. It was such an amazing experience and coach join really wanted me to, and I felt really good, really, really good.
So him and I had a good connection cause you, in the college business, you cannot trust anybody. They were all trying to get your jobs. Every guy you hired, they’re trying to get your job. So he was in a tough situation. So that year we ended up winning 20 games, which was the, I think it’s the second greatest division.
One turnaround from three wins to 20 wins. And it was amazing experience and looking back, I wish I stayed and I, and I tell Coach Joiner this all the time, but my wife, it was very hard to live in New York. And in North Carolina she was not moving. And so she would travel down like on new year’s Eve, Valentine, like all special holidays.
She was down there, she was making food. I didn’t have. I grew up in an Italian family. My mother did everything. I didn’t even have to do laundry. I didn’t go away to college. I went to local was the first time in my life at 55 years old. I’m living on my own.
[01:11:35] Mike Klinzing: You had that young coach experience, like normally that the guy who’s 23 years old and living in somebody’s basement on a mattress isn’t 55.
[01:11:43] Jack Agostino: Exactly. Yeah. So it was just such a great experience. And getting to know the place. I still have really good relationships with the players today. And I just really, really enjoyed the experience and just being in it. But I really appreciate coaching so much more like the time that you have to put in, or we go back to Kobe and all these great players that Mike James and Jason Fraser and AJ Price, the time they put in is incredible.
And there’s coaches out there that double the players. Which is amazing to me. Amazing story.
[01:12:22] Mike Klinzing: No, you absolutely did. All right. Let’s get to Bay Shore and let’s wrap up with a two-part question. That’s going to give you a chance to tell the story of how you get back to Bayshore. So when you look at where you are now, and obviously you were back in the high school ranks where you spent the majority of your career, and when you think ahead to the next year or two, what’s the biggest challenge that you have in front of you.
And then let’s wrap up with the second part of that question, which is what’s the biggest joy. When you get out in the morning, get out of bed in the morning, and you think about what you get to do on a daily basis. What’s your biggest joy. So your biggest challenge and your biggest joy,
[01:13:02] Jack Agostino: The biggest challenge is kind of going back to when I first started is building those relationships. Like, I don’t know the families of Bay Shore as, as well yet I’m working on it. I’m definitely connecting to the CYO programs, the middle school players. I haven’t gotten to the elementary level kids yet, but you know, there, there’s a really nice group of young players.
I went through the Amityville days and then this group is really good. Like their seventh, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade is very, very good. Now the challenge to me, these kids are being recruited already to private schools. So in Amityville, I never worried about it because I had the connection with the parents, with the families, with the.
Bay Shore. That is the challenge right now. I’m trying to make that connections, but it’s just not as easy anymore. Because last year we dealt with all that COVID stuff. We played six, seven games. So I built a little relationship, which was really a great store. We ended up making the playoffs in that short period of time.
And I took over in Bay Shore, the day of tryouts. I was hired the day of triumphs, which is the day before tryouts. So I take over and I pulled this team together and I guess my experience really helped. And they weren’t the most talented, but they were great kids and hard workers.
So we were able to make it to the player route. So now this year, the challenge that I’m facing is that. We had two kids that had minor incidents in the school and the school suspended them for the entire basketball season. I’m like, God, that’s really hard for me understand. I think it’s important to keep kids in the gym.
You know, I’m out of games, but they were very minor situation, but they have really, really strict rules in the school when it comes to things like that. So I was like, all right, I got to learn to deal with that. Like the district is not the same as Amityville. They really strict rules.
So I have to inform players how you gotta really be on top of your game. You can’t get yourself in any trouble. So the challenge, the two challenges that I’m facing is getting to know the community, but getting to know the school system. And I’ve been out of the school systems, what five, six years.
So it’s a little different five years. It’s just something that I have to get, get to that point. Like the understanding, the nice part about the whole thing is that the school district hired my brother, who was one of my rivals when we coached against each other. He was my assistant during the LeBron James, and he’s my athletic director.
So he’s my boss right now, which is very hard for me to accept. I’m his older brother. So
he’s. Like thin ice. Sometimes he’s afraid to approach me on certain things. And I was like, Chris, just do your job. I’m not gonna bite your head off. Not publicly. Right. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. There you
[01:15:55] Mike Klinzing: There you go.
[01:15:56] Jack Agostino: So it’s a nice, it’s a nice blessing. And I do believe I am making some good connections with some young family members.
Now, again, I’m 59 years old. Like how long do I really want to continue to do this? And, and all I kept saying to my wife, the only reason I got back, I want to end my career on a good note and long island basketball. And I feel like in Amityville it didn’t end the way I really wanted my, I had a very good young group of kids coming up that would have won a state championship.
I know it, and I would’ve got off and rode into the sunset, but I didn’t get that opportunity. So I don’t know. This is like burning desire in me when I wake up every morning is to get basically. So the state championship, it’s never happened in a district. They’ve never won a long island championship and there’s a lot of talent there, but a lot of talent does leave.
They recruit the Catholic schools and private schools really recruit the area heart. So there’s a new sheriff in town, so
[01:16:55] Mike Klinzing: Keep them around, keep them at home, right. Keep the players at home. That’s the king. You gotta keep them guys at home. What’s your biggest joy. What’s your biggest joy?
[01:17:03] Jack Agostino: You know, every day is a blessing. I thank God. Every morning I get to wake up. I have a happy family. I got a great wife. I get, it’s so nice that you don’t have to work all day. Like I feel bad like you’re teaching all day and if you were coaching, it really is. And my brothers, they all still work all day.
I’m like, God, that seems so hard right now. Even though I did it for 32 years, it just seems so hard. Like I love to get up, go to the gym watch some film and then go to practice. And then you come home college, she was like a full-time job. This is seriously a part-time job. And I’m trying to put more hours in, like it’s just not happening, but it is a blessing every day.
And like I said, clearly God has played a major role in my life and he still does. And he’s always there and good times and bad times that my coach in Korea would have never been where it was without my belief and my faith in God
[01:18:09] Mike Klinzing: Jack, That’s well said. And I think that anybody who listens to this, here’s your passion coming through the microphone for the communities that you’ve worked in for the game of basketball for the kids that you’ve been fortunate enough to cover.
And it’s been a lot of fun getting to hear your story and giving you an opportunity to share it. Before we wrap up, I want to give you a chance to share how can people connect with you? How can they find out more about what you’re doing at Bayshore, whether you want to share an email, social media, whatever you feel comfortable putting out there.
And then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
[01:18:41] Jack Agostino: I tell you this, I’m not a big social media guy. I don’t really do any of that stuff, but some of my former players really have that Amityville vibe going. So. Talking with Tristan and he has like a YouTube station. He’s got a couple of things happening out there.
He runs fit lab. He runs his own business and train business. And he’s really good for me. Honestly, he puts myself out there more than anybody. Like you got a PR guy, he was great player. He was a great player. So he, they haven’t as big alumni game coming up and they want to honor me, which is very nice.
And it’s April 15th, somewhere around there and it’s going to be a great event. And you know, if anybody wants to connect with Tristan he’s on Facebook, he’s on all social media platforms. And again, he runs the fit lab. I wish I had this information in front of me. Like, you guys can reach him, but.
Maybe I’ll send you an email…
[01:19:41] Mike Klinzing: We’ll figure it out. In the meantime, we put the episode together, we’ll put it in the show notes and we’ll get, we’ll get, do some blasts out when you…
[01:19:50] Jack Agostino: Yeah, because I think this event that they’re trying to run an Amityville it’s, it’s going to be really, really special and interesting.
They had like a, a draft, like they have an alumni, so they have four coaches, Mike James, as one player, coach Jason Fraser and other player. AJ Price and this kid, Mark Johnson and the other coach. Interesting. So they have four different generations of kids and we put together a list of about maybe like 30, 40 guys, and they’re all gonna play in this big alumni game in April.
And I think it’s going to be a great event. And you know, definitely the local area is going to jump on it, the local media, because these are all great players. You’re talking about two NBA players, Mike James, and AJ Price. And he talked about Jason Fraser, who was top and was the McDonald’s all American top five, who coach in the NBA with Phoenix signs.
And he got interest and Tristan Smith went to St. John’s these are unbelievable athletes and kids from Amityville. So they’re giving back to the community, which I really like. And I liked that they’d really date. They’re always checking in on me, which is really nice. And they know Amityville didn’t treat me right at the end, but I always tell these kids that they can never, never take away my relationships with you.
No matter what you can do in this world, to me, Basketball taking you took the game away from me for a little while you couldn’t take the relationships that I built. And to that, I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to coach an ambulance.
[01:21:17] Mike Klinzing: Jack cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule to join us a special thanks to your brother for putting us onto your story and to people who are out there.
If you get a chance to go and watch the documentary, small, small town greatness, make sure you look it up. You can do a search. You can find it. If you want to see more of Jack story and learn even more about what he was able to accomplish at Amityville. So again, Jack, thank you. And it’s everyone out there.
Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.