Website – Psaras.net
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @bbdoctor
Jim Psaras is the director of Psaras Skills Academy and the former coach at Rogers High School in Newport, Rhode Island. Psaras coached basketball for 29 seasons in Newport, his first season at Thompson Middle School, his second with the Rogers freshmen, his third with the Rogers junior varsity and the last 26 seasons as the head boys’ varsity coach at Rogers. Jim retired from coaching in March of 2014.
Jim’s coaching career was greatly impacted by the opportunity to work and learn at the famed Five Star Basketball Camp. Although he is retired from high school coaching, through his Psaras Skills Academy and Viking Basketball Camp he continues to give back to the game.
The foundation of the Psaras Skills Academy philosophy is to show players how to work hard, teach players how to work and play smart, and inspire players to work consistently once training is over. Players will learn the level of effort required to play successful basketball, as well as how to train with purpose to get there.
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Be prepared to listen and learn throughout this episode with Jim Psaras from Psaras Skills Academy and Rogers High School in the state of Rhode Island.
What We Discuss with Jim Psaras
- The appeal of basketball as a team game
- His favorite player as a kid – Dr. J
- Taking advantage of opportunities as a high school athlete
- Becoming a head varsity coach at age 23
- The relationships he’s built with players throughout his coaching career
- Being a college student while coaching at the high school level
- The structure of the Rogers youth basketball program
- The difference between watching film then & now
- Teaching life lessons through your own experiences
- Being a life-long learner
- The influence Five Star Basketball Camp had on him as a coach
- Hubie Brown & Rick Pitino
- His advice for engaging parents
- How being a parent impacted him as a coach
- Why he started Psaras Skills Academy
- Giving back in his community through basketball
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THANKS, JIM PSARAS
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TRANSCRIPT FOR JIM PSARAS – ROGERS (RI) HIGH SCHOOL RETIRED BOYS’ VARSITY HEAD COACH – EPISODE 300
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle this morning, but I am pleased to be joined by long time Rhode Island high school coach Jim Psaras. Jim, welcome to the podcast.
Jim Psaras: [00:00:13] Thank you, Mike. Thanks for having me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:15] Excited to have you on and get a chance to dig into all of the great things that you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball throughout your long career.
Want to start out back at the beginning of this journey when you were a kid, and talk to me a little bit about how you got into the game when you were younger. What made you fall in love with the game of basketball? I
Jim Psaras: [00:00:33] just, you know, just found love. I mean, there wasn’t much to do when I was younger.
You know, there’s only three channels to watch on TV and it just gravitate it to basketball. I mean, I’d go out in the winter time and shovel snow and shoot, and then went to time. and just, just found a, a love for the game and a passion. And then I didn’t really know was, a love and passion at the time.
and I just continued to play in Flo Harvey leagues and, the YMC [00:01:00] leagues and even part of my, you know, church playing with them, and just continue to play, and really, play not in the middle school. I actually played in elementary school. We used to have an elementary, fourth and fifth grade team.
And, I, one of my teachers, my first coach in elementary school, Was great. And kinda got me started.
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:24] What was it about the game that hooked you? Cause obviously in your era, my era, you were probably playing multiple things outside with neighborhood kids and running around and all that stuff. So what was it about basketball, the game specifically that hooked you?
Jim Psaras: [00:01:39] I think it was the, the ability to play with another group of. People, multiple people, not like, you know, baseball. Sometimes it felt like, you know, we’d hit the ball and, you know, it just was like a one on one situation. And, I felt like, you know, fighting tennis, it was like we’d go up to the park and play [00:02:00] tennis all day.
I just felt like, you know what? It was like basketball was other guys involved on your team against another team. And it just kind of gravitate to me, gravitate towards me that team. Aspect, and that’s why I think I started to love it so much.
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:16] Who is your player that you looked up to? Who is your, your, who are you a big fan of when you were a kid?
Who’s you like watching
Jim Psaras: [00:02:22] Julius Erving. When I started, when I really like kinda started watching the NBA a little bit, Julius Erving was the first person. and then after that, obviously being from the new England area. after observing, it was obviously Larry Bird and magic Johnson, but, Julius Erving was for sure the first, I remember having a winter hat with a Philadelphia 76.
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:46] That’s very cool. Doc was my guy too. I still remember, I have vague. So when in the 77 championship, I have very vague. Memories of seeing that, and obviously at that point, the [00:03:00] finals were on tape delay at 1130 so I was like seven or eight years old, so I wasn’t staying up for those. But I have vague memories of those.
Highlights and kind of the legend of dr J. And then the dr J converse all stars, sort of the first real leather basketball shoe. When we all graduated from Chuck Taylor’s. Those were the shoes that I couldn’t wait to someday put on my feet. And that was the first quote. Real pair of basketball shoes I ever had were the converse all stars that doc wore.
And, I think he was just a guy that was so charismatic and played. So differently and above the rim compared to a lot of guys in that era. I think there were a lot of kids probably that were of a similar age to you and I that that doc was probably their first guy.
Jim Psaras: [00:03:43] I couldn’t agree with you more.
And the other one was Elvin Hayes. And you still go to the corner of my, court and I used to shoot a shot every time. Same spot. And it was a sweet spot, but Elvin Hayes was the other one that just came back to mind.
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:58] The Big E. [00:04:00] Those are good times. It’s funny now that we’ve had more time, I don’t know about you, but I’ve kind of probably not as much as some people, but I have gone back and checked out different YouTube clips of games and historic games and it’s funny to go back and watch things that you have this vague memory of in your mind.
And then you go back and you watch them live, or you know, obviously not live, but you’re, you’re watching the entire game. And it’s funny just to compare your memory of what you thought went on or what you thought it was like compared to what you were actually seeing. And it’s just, that’s been a lot of fun, which is something that normally in our.
Everyday life. At least for me, I don’t necessarily have the time to go back and watch those historic games and send a lot of fun to do that. I got, in fact thinking of what we were just talking about here. I got to go back and I got to watch some vintage dr J here in the next couple of days.
Jim Psaras: [00:04:51] I think I’m going to try that myself.
Mike Klinzing: [00:04:52]
It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve watched probably, I watched a couple of Jordan games. I watched some [00:05:00] Lakers, Celtics, you know, from the vintage magic bird era. So those games have been fun and it’s, it’s nice to see, you know, especially as you think about seeing those guys at the age that they are now that you see them at a press conference or whatever, when magic was the GM of the Lakers, and obviously bird’s been a little bit out of the spotlight for the last couple of years, but to go back and see them at their peak is, is pretty incredible.
Jim Psaras: [00:05:22] yeah. I mean, for me, I mean, at that time I was probably. 1415, and you know, watching library and magic Johnson, you know, bring the life back to basketball. was just such a pivotal time for the game of basketball. And, obviously Michael Jordan after that. But, for me it was like, you know, the no look pass.
And that’s kind of the certain part of the game that I modeled. I try to follow that model of the no look, pass and be a great pastor and be a great teammate. So, you know, there was impactful times for the game of basketball and I think those two had a [00:06:00] big part to do with it, obviously with Michael Jordan following.
Mike Klinzing: [00:06:02] Yeah, no doubt. That Bird and Magic. When you think about where the NBA was in the late seventies, early eighties, and the. The sort of dwindling pop popularity the league. And then those two came in with their personalities and their rivalry and one East coast, one West coast, and just kind of their, I wouldn’t say they’re contrasting Scott styles cause they both obviously played.
And unselfish game and we’re, we’re passers. And I think that was something that the public kind of latched onto because the league had sort of gotten this selfish reputation and whatever, and they were able to turn it around. And then, as you said, followed by Michael, who took that popularity to and even, you know, to an even greater level.
So thinking back to your time when you were playing, talk a little bit about your high school career. Maybe give us a favorite memory or two from your time as a high school player.
Jim Psaras: [00:06:51] Well, when I was in high school, our, we had, our middle school was, had a ninth grade in it at the time before it became [00:07:00] part of the high school a few years later.
And, I didn’t try out. I didn’t have any push or any kind of guidance to go out for the middle school team or kind of, you know, my family, just, you know, wasn’t, It didn’t push me at all. So when I got into high school, my member going out actually as a freshmen, as a ninth grader and getting cut, and then the next year just didn’t have any mentorship to say, you know, continue to plug away.
And I ended up not going out, which I look back now and I try to share with kids, you know, to continue to try. And I ended up being like as a sophomore, like the manager of the basketball team. For my eventual a high school coach. And then the next year I went out and I actually worked harder and, and, made the varsity as a backup point guard as a junior.
but I felt like I had lost a year, you know, cause I did not play as a sophomore. And then my senior year, I was a starting point guard. you know, I ended up breaking my [00:08:00] thumb halfway through the year, but my fondest memory of my high school was playing a school. And, I remember one of my teammates taking a shot with, I think we’re either down one or tied, and I reversed the ball from the top of the key and he was in the corner and he took the shot and I just went and crashed weak side on the rebounds and caught the ball in the air and tapped it in.
As the buzzer went off, we won the game and that was my fondest memory. Yeah.
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:25] There’s nothing better than a buzzer beater.
Jim Psaras: [00:08:27] Oh yeah. It was great. I remember it like it was last night.
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:31] I hear you. There’s nothing, there’s nothing better. My own favorite high school memory is we were playing my rival last home game as a senior, and I made a.
Shot from probably about the circle that what they would call, you know, you think of the, the Steph Curry, Trey young shots, sorta from that area, at the buzzer to beat, to beat our rival. And that was last home game as a senior. So that, [00:09:00] that buzzer beater, that feeling of. You’re winning a game and then having your teammates mob you and just all that that goes along with what happens when you, when you beat the buzzer.
That’s something that, as you said, it feels like it was just yesterday. I could, I can instantly recall what that felt like, what it looked like. it’s a memory that I’ll be 96 years old and still still telling that story to anybody who will listen, so I can, I can completely relate to, to, to that being your favorite memory. [00:09:31] and I think that the other thing there that you talked about, which I think is an important lesson, is, you know, when you said that you wished that you had, that you had tried out and that you had some more guidance for somebody saying, Hey, you should, you know, you should continue to pursue, this is what you want to do.
It should be something that you should continue to pursue. And I think that a lot of times what kids forget, and you know, there’s all kinds of reasons why kids decide not to play. But whenever I’m having that type of conversation with a kid, my thought and the thing that I try [00:10:00] to share with them is you don’t ever get a chance to go back and do it again.
So if you don’t try out for your high school team or you get cut and you and you give up, if it’s something that you really love to do, you got to continue to pursue it because you can’t be 24 years old and suddenly say, Oh, I wish I would have gone and played high school basketball. That opportunity.
It’s only there in front of you once and you’d never get it back. And so I think that that story that you shared about not going out and not really having somebody kind of guide you in that decision making process is something that I’m sure you probably used with your teams and your kids that you coach over the years.
Jim Psaras: [00:10:37] Yeah. And as well, it was my, my children. Yes, definitely would my teams and my players, different moments that came up, you know, difficulty they were having and challenges wherever it might be, you know, off the court at home. But like, even when my kids, you know, I told them and answered their freshmen year at a high school, I go, listen, you’ve got, you know, only 12 sports seasons, you [00:11:00] know, extracurricular activity opportunities, you know, for your, for your career.
And they will go by fast. And before you know it, you’ll only have like six opportunities. You’ll have two years left. So I’ve kind of shared that with them to take advantage of the opportunities that you have and the opportunities to grow in relationships with your, you know, your teammates and your coaches.
Mike Klinzing: [00:11:21] Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question about that. So as you look at your finishing up playing and. Thinking about coaching, talk to me when you first got an idea that maybe coaching would be something that you’d be interested in. How did you come to that realization? Was it something that happened quickly or was it something that kind of gradually over time, you had always known from the time you were a kid, that the coaching might be something that you were interested in?
Jim Psaras: [00:11:49] I think I, you’d have to ask my friends, but I think I was always a team player and always trying to help people. And at the time it was maybe trying [00:12:00] to teach them in a way, but help. But it kinda kind of happened by accident. I was, I had gone to school after high school, college and I enrolled that I was in a major didn’t like, and I ended up transferring to the university of Rhode Island and it was kind of like starting a little bit over.
And I remember going to a, our high school football game. and running into my, former head coach and, and he said to me, he was working the gate collected tickets and said, you know, would you be interested in coaching? And I said, sure, what would it be? So, you know, our middle school program that, you know, that I had gone through was Thompson middle school, needs a coach.
So long story short, that’s where I started. And then I have like. A very like, interesting. what happened to me over those next three or four years was kind of [00:13:00] like unique. So I coached that first team and it was unique because it was players on that team that I was able to build a relationship with.
because. The next year started, it was back at the middle school coach in eighth grade, and about a week into it, the freshman coach had left for his job responsibilities changed so he couldn’t devote the time. So then I was, I was promoted up to the freshmen program the second year. So now I’m second year at the same time.
I’m beginning my college time as a student. Well, third year comes around and the JV coach is a teacher and he’s not going to coach JVs anymore. The GDV position opens up. And I put in for it and I get it. Meanwhile, I’m still an undergraduate taking a full load of classes, scheduling everything in the morning, early afternoon, so I could be around for practices, games.
Well, really, I mean, it just doesn’t happen, but my head coach leaves the next year to become a [00:14:00] volunteer assistant at division one school, university or Ireland. So now I put in for the position. And I get the position. So in four years, I went, you know, from eighth grade, right up the ladder, and mind you, those kids that I started with, you know, they came with me or, you know, we came together and then obviously added kids from each class as, as we moved up the ladder.
And then, so I became, the head coach of the varsity at the age of 23, while still an undergraduate full time student at the university of Rhode Island.
Mike Klinzing: [00:14:36] All right. So I’ve got a lot of questions here. So let’s start out with, I’ll start at the beginning of that story and then I’ll move to. The quote end of the story, which is really the beginning of your varsity career.
So that first year when you coach, obviously you’re a pretty young kid at that point. What do you remember about standing in front of your team for the first time as a, I assume you were 1920 years old at that [00:15:00] point, when you got that first middle school job, what do you remember about standing in front of that group for the first time as their
Jim Psaras: [00:15:05] coach.
I think I thought I knew it all, but I had no idea what I was getting into. As I reflect, as I reflect back 35 years, it was just, what I can remember is just here I am not many years ahead of him. I mean, at that point, you know, and I’m like, man, you know, I’m, I’m getting, I’m starting to do something that.
You know, it’s great. I’m giving back. But I just felt like from within, the passion was there and it was starting to come out. And obviously I had no idea what I was doing. And from the perspective of like what you know now as what you started with, and we would all say that. So I would just remember being there, but I remember just starting to build the relationships.
That’s what to me was, was really big with the relationship with that group because it became so unique that I had no idea it was what was going to happen [00:16:00] and what was going to transgress over the next, you know, four or five, 10 20 years.
Mike Klinzing: [00:16:06] I’m assuming, just guessing based on what little I know about you at this point, that a lot of those kids, since you spent.
Six years with some of them as their coach, all the way up through the varsity level. I’m assuming that there’s some of those kids you still occasionally have contact with even today.
Jim Psaras: [00:16:22] Oh, some of them are really close friends. I’ll go to, I’ll go to games, in the local area, playoff games, regular season games.
They’ll sit next to me. I’ll sit next to them or drive up in a car. I compensate with, you know, all some have become, we’re in my, in, in my wedding, my first, you know, when I got married and it just, It’s just been unbelievable. And, they’re still in my lives. I actually, you know, as, as a, I actually work with a couple, so it’s just, the relationships have just continued to just bloom.
And, it just, it’s just been a [00:17:00] great, a fortunate opportunity for me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:17:03] Yeah. I think those, the, the ability to build that kind of relationship and spend that many years with a group of kids has gotta be very, very special. Because as you said, that’s a very, very unique situation where. Not many people, both on the playing side and the coaching side would have that opportunity to spend that many years in a row unless you’re in the professional ranks where you’re staying with a franchise for years and years and years.
But even that is becoming rarer and rarer. Ah, it’s not too often that players and coach spent six years together the way that those kids would have had the opportunity to deal with you. And that’s just a very, I’m sure, unique and special situation. And clearly from what you described in terms of the relationships that you still have with those kids today, that’s just, you know, again, what a blessing to be able to start out with that right off the gate.
you know, in your coaching career. And then you get up to the varsity level and you’re still a college student. So talk a little bit about how you [00:18:00] balanced. Being a full time college student and coaching one thing to coach middle school basketball, even that I think would probably be a challenge for most people.
But now you step up and you’re the varsity coach and you, you may or may not have known at that point what all that entailed, but just thinking about that from the perspective of what’s required of a high school varsity coach, just talk about how you balanced your student responsibilities with your coaching responsibilities.
Jim Psaras: [00:18:29] Well, I mean, I basically like I scheduled my classes in the morning and early afternoon. That way I had the flexibility that I didn’t have any commitments in the, you know, after two o’clock and was able to be able to drive back. It was probably about a 20, 25 minute ride from campus back to Newport and, made sure that my classes were scheduled at great times.
So I could do it. And that way I didn’t have, you know, there was no worries where I couldn’t make practice one day [00:19:00] and I just, you know, I committed to it and I committed to obviously getting my degree, but I committed to, you know, this passion that I had that I had just started. I just was like, this is really important to me, and I just wanted to make sure that however I need the schedule, we’ll make time.
That neither, neither side my academics or my team would be hurt by, you know, lack of, input or lack of, you know, I guess for me it’s just, you know, I didn’t want to give less than 100% to either one.
Mike Klinzing: [00:19:36] Totally understand. And. I think when you go back and you look at that situation, I have talked to other coaches who have kind of been in that same spot.
I’m not sure I’ve talked to anybody who’s been a varsity head coach while still in school. I’ve talked to a bunch of coaches who have been. Middle school coaches or even JV coaches, while they’re [00:20:00] still finishing up their, you know, their education. But I think your situation is clearly unique. So when you were a young guy like that and you take over the program, what do you remember about your vision for what you hope to create as the varsity head coach?
Jim Psaras: [00:20:15] Well, again, I grew up in, it’s, I was fortunate in my head, my high school head coach was terrific. You know, coaches scout and he actually took me along with him and I actually went to some clinics early on and try to try to develop like kind of what my philosophy was going to be, how I wanted to go about things, and I was lucky to have some mentors.
Then my, my high school head coach obviously, and then. Some older guys that were really good friends with him that were the association, our coaches association in our state. And they kind of guided me along and I kind of just followed on their coattails and, you know, went to clinics and started to kind of begin to learn the, lifelong process of learning.
And [00:21:00] I just kept learning and learning and kept seeing what would be comfortable, what was I comfortable with and what did I want to bring. You know, as a mainstay of our program.
Mike Klinzing: [00:21:11] All right. So what were you, you look back on those early few years as the head varsity coach. What were some things that you feel like you were good at right out of the gate, and what were some things that you look back on now and you’re like, I’m not sure.
I was very good at that when I first started.
Jim Psaras: [00:21:27] I think I, at that age, I think I was good in communicating to the players because of, my, my, you know, ability to relate to them. And I think that. You know, I think in relating to players as a strength, I think one of the weaknesses at the time was just the overall knowledge of the game.
And I needed to continue to learn in all aspects, you know, on offense and defense. And I been able to see, you know, it wasn’t as simple as, okay. The basic things that you do here on defense are the basic things you do on the other end on offense. There was so [00:22:00] much more to the puzzle and I only had a piece of two when I needed to learn to that huge 1000 piece puzzle or whatever size piece puzzle I needed to start to collect the pieces and make sure that they fit.
Mike Klinzing: [00:22:14] I think now that’s probably for coaches a little bit. If you’re willing to put the time in and it means something to you, I think it’s a little bit easier. Today to learn those X’s and O’s, or at least be able to find ways to study it and be able to reach out to other coaches and talk to people and use the internet.
And the X’s and O’s piece always seems like, at least to me. The part that would be, again saying it’s the easiest is probably the wrong way to say it, but it’s the most accessible thing out there that if you want to find out more about basketball X’s and O’s, there are so many different ways to do it.
And what I’ve found through the podcast, and I think most people would probably agree with this, that there’s so many coaches out there today that are willing to [00:23:00] share their knowledge and share what they know, and then it’s just so much easier. To share that knowledge than it was 25 or 30 years ago when you were first starting.
so talk to me maybe a little bit about the things that, who you went to or how you went about trying to learn maybe some of the other things around the program. Now, of course, the word would be culture. I’m not sure that was the way that we thought about it back in the time when you started, but just talk about some of the things that, you know, you had to do around building your team.
That weren’t necessarily X’s and O’s related. Who did you talk to? How did you go about learning that? Was it by experience? Was it by talking to some of the mentors you mentioned, mentioned earlier. Just talk a little bit about how you started thinking about the culture of your team.
Jim Psaras: [00:23:47] Well, I mean, I was lucky that at the time.
Our, our football program at our high school at the time, back in the, late eighties, early nineties. Even before that for a long [00:24:00] time in history, was a powerhouse football team in our state. And the head coach was a John Tobar and he was actually my first athletic director. And, he was just a powerful figure in from the leadership aspect.
That everyone in the community looked up to. When I remember going and having a conversation at his house one day, you know, just to learn more, not obviously not about the X and the old cause we’re in different sport at the time, but just to learn more. And I remember, I think it was my, my first year or the beginning of my second year, and,
He said something to me that has stuck with me, and I’ve shared this with his daughter and his son, that he said to me in a conversation that day that made me feel like it may in dollars. And I think it just grew my confidence that they said to me, you’re a white Knight at that school. And I didn’t [00:25:00] know what it meant at the time.
I just took it as a compliment, but it just. Through my, confidence through the roof. So then I became engaged with him about, you know, leading a team and, you know, what the, the key connection pieces are and the glue. And obviously, you know, he went about it one way, but he is, you know, he’s a legend in our community.
And, I think that was one of the most important things that catapulted me into now. Okay. Looking at, you know, now I’m starting to collect as, as, as I said, more pieces of the puzzle, and now my pieces are getting a little bigger. You know? How about leading a team and understanding it, and I didn’t even know it then, you know?
And so much now.
Mike Klinzing: [00:25:44] Right. How do you, when you look back on the totality of your time as the varsity coach, how. How would you describe the way that you went about building your relationships with your players in [00:26:00] terms of having conversations with them in terms of getting to know them both as players, but also as people off the floor?
Was there anything that you did formally to make that happen? Was it done informally? Just talk to me a little bit about your process of building relationships with your
Jim Psaras: [00:26:17] kids. You know, it’s probably done informally. Obviously I changed so much now, but I mean, I just spent, I would spend time talking to them, you know what I mean?
before practice, after practice, during practice, you know, they were shooting free throws, attending their other sports, you know, going to the other games if they played other sports. and, you know, reaching out to them and just, you know, kind of just always staying in touch with them and talking to them.
And obviously for me, I was lucky. With those relationships because they trusted me because we had spent so much time together. They knew me, and then that really helped. I think [00:27:00] it was a mentor program. I think it was. It was, it was the key to, You know what we accomplished. And, after that, I, I just believe I just continued to do that because I had done it.
But now the other relationships I was building kids to know me as well because it was like either the first or the second year or possibly the third year that there were, they got to know me and understand me more. And, you know, I wasn’t able to reach everybody, which is what my goal was. But, you know, I was able to reach so many.
And, I think that was a. Probably how I connected with them the best,
Mike Klinzing: [00:27:38] I’m sure as an elementary school, physical education teacher, in addition to being a coach, that your youth program was critical to the success of your program. So can you talk a little bit about how you built your youth program, what your philosophy was with your youth program, and then how that benefited [00:28:00] you eventually as the high school varsity coach.
Jim Psaras: [00:28:02] All our youth programs were in place at the time, and it was the key to our success, I believe, and always have believed this. And over time, some things have changed. what I believe at the time we had elementary basketball at the schools and we had, you know, I forget the time, maybe six or seven elementary schools and each elementary school had a fourth and fifth grade team, had one team that represented this school and played against the other elementary school.
So that was huge as well as our local YMCA. We had our fellow Harvey leagues. so we out of the boys clubs and so those are all in place. And then, in the middle school, there was an enemy mural program at the time with sixth graders because secret is, can play in the middle school until they were seventh grade.
Then obviously we had our middle school program and the boys clubs in the YMCAs still went on. And we also had a local recreation department that [00:29:00] had basketball going on. And so those are all in place. And so as we were, as I was coaching, those are all in place. And then as the boys club started to expand inside of, to take kids out and travel to Providence or to Boston or to Connecticut to play games, all these extra things.
Helped in, you know, our success of our program.
Mike Klinzing: [00:29:25] And how directly involved were you with any of that, in terms of being invisible to those younger kids? Cause I think that’s one of the things that I see that is, I think slightly different in the high school basketball today, at least around here, where you don’t necessarily always have.
That direct involvement from the varsity coach, and I think it’s something that causes kids maybe not to aspire as much, to be a part of their high school team eventually. And I think just the basketball system in general is just different. I think it’s more. Individualistic today [00:30:00] as opposed to kids looking around and going, Hey, I’ve been with this group of kids since we were in third grade.
Can’t wait to play together in high school. I think it’s become more of a, an individual thing as opposed to a a group thing or a team thing or a community thing, but just how much were you personally involved in any of those different aspects of the youth program that you described.
Jim Psaras: [00:30:20] I wouldn’t say that much.
They were all running and they were really great. And the time, you know, you know, for me at the, at that age, and then in my mid twenties, everything was being run and I didn’t know any better, you know, what needed to be done. And they were doing a great job. And so I think I had stopped in, maybe when they had asked me to come and do some clinics for them.
I would go down absolutely with some, some of our guys and do those. But, I wasn’t heavily involved in that development. there were some great things already in place and, you know, we had obviously lots of numbers at the high school and in the middle school trying [00:31:00] out. But, again, I didn’t have anybody that would help me kind of.
Mentor me. I mean, I had my, my mentors, but I had no one that would say, you know, you gotta be more visible there. So I didn’t, I w you know, obviously on Sally’s rule, always off anyways. So for me, it became a family time and I didn’t, you know, and I didn’t have any children at the time, but it would for me was like my kids needed to be with their families.
And for me it was like, okay. I was like breaking down tape and doing the other, all the other stuff. Didn’t, not understanding what the importance was of at that time, the sense of community.
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:38] Yeah. And young coaches today have no idea what breaking down tape look like in the, in the, in the late eighties early, not early nineties it was a little bit of a different little bit of a different animal then than it is now.
Jim Psaras: [00:31:48] Sure was, man. Lots of, lots of, lots of tape,
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:52] man. It’s funny, I remember, I remember it both from a playing perspective and a, you know, an early in my [00:32:00] coaching career perspective and that probably the thing that sticks with me the most is. As a player, more so even than a coach and sitting in the locker room with both my high school coach and even in college and you know, coach, having the old VHS tapes and having the remote control in their hand and say, okay, we’re going to, we’re going to see this play again and hitting the rewind button and then missing the play by like a minute and a half because they went too far.
They can get it stopped and then you end up watching something that they didn’t want to watch anyway. And you’ve walked rewatched that like seven times and they couldn’t, you couldn’t get to the right place. And it was just, it was so incredibly inefficient. And now you think about how. The T, you know how you can send it off, you know, send your film off to huddle or some other service and within six hours or two hours or whatever it is, the turnaround time is just incredible and get it all broken down by this and that and stats and everything else.
It’s just, it’s amazing. [00:33:00] I think probably young coaches who weren’t around in those days. I have no idea what the, you know, how time consuming and inefficient that process of breaking down tape was. You know, back in the day, you know, again, like I said in the, in the eighties and nineties, it was just completely inefficient.
Jim Psaras: [00:33:19] Absolutely. I mean, now with the efficiency is so much better, but the value of that hard work you can not replace. I mean, I would obviously like to, you know, being a save more time and have it be more efficient with time, but the value of what you put into breaking those tapes down and the knowledge you continue to grow and how you hide to work hard to break that tape down and spend time was, was worth it because it brought in habits.
Mike Klinzing: [00:33:46] Yeah. I think that there’s something to be said for that. When you think about the investment of time, and this doesn’t just apply to film study, but I think it goes to something greater that you’re hitting on, which is when you put in the investment of [00:34:00] time, that could be as a coach, that could be as a player.
Then. You become more invested in those ultimate results. And I think that’s something that is a lesson that we can all teach as basketball coaches or as teachers to be able to share with our students that when you put more into it, when you put effort into whatever it is that you’re going to do, you’re going to take more pride in it, and ultimately you’re going to end up being more successful because of that effort and because it was meaningful for you.
And I think that as. Again, a basketball coach. Those are the kinds of life lessons that you’re trying to teach your kids beyond the game of basketball. I think that’s something that’s, that’s very, very important. So when you think about that aspect of coaching and just being able to share with your kids, not just teach them how to become better basketball players, but just in part those life lessons that are going to help them be a success in whatever.
Endeavor they ended up doing when they’re older. Talk a little bit about how you try to share your, your life lessons [00:35:00] with them to help them not only be better basketball players, but be better people.
Jim Psaras: [00:35:04] I guess for me, the life lessons started at my days at five star basketball camp. and I say that with true love because I remember being at a lecture.
I’m with one of the coaches. Jerry Wainwright and Jerry Wayne right at the time was that wake forest and then as an assistant. And I think during the time he, we worked at camp together, he ended up being the head coach at UNC Wilmington. And Jerry had election, the 25th anniversary week about life.
And that impacted me so much. and then. A few more less lectures of Jerry through the years with the same or little changes. It impacted me so much to the point that when I started our basketball camp, in 1995, that [00:36:00] every Friday lecture was the same. All, this is going to be our 25th anniversary of the summer.
If we have camp, you know, who’s to know. But from the beginning one week sessions to two or three week sessions, every Friday lecture has always been the same. And it was always been titled be a good being, a good person. And it just talked about, life with the kids. And then I shared a story about when I was younger.
And one of my good friends playing on a Saturday afternoon flipped, you know, flicked something at my eye. And basically, long story short, I have, I had to have patches on my eyes for six days back then, no drops. So I, and it’s part of that, life’s lesson where I share with the kids the story and they all know the story and they talk about it, [00:37:00] but.
For me, it was six days at the age of 15 understanding of what it was like to be blind, where I can only change the patches at night in the pitch black of the bathroom, and all day long for six days, I had to wear patches. So it was such an impactful time for me, and I share that every Friday of our lectures about being a good person and you know, using those powerful words of, please, thank you.
And I love you. Those six, you know, they’re five words, but we use one more, you know, twice. So those six powerful words, and I share that story. And then, so for years I’ve been able to relay that to my kids on all levels at the high school and even in our youth camps and our kids.
Mike Klinzing: [00:37:50] That’s powerful to be able to share a personal experience, a personal story that applicable to.
Kids’ lives, that they can [00:38:00] see somebody that is in front of them, that they respect somebody that they know and showing your own vulnerability and showing the fact that you’re a human being. And then when you do that, I think that that. Is very impactful for kids. It’s one thing for you to tell a story about somebody else.
I think it’s another thing for you to tell a story about yourself and something that you were able to overcome and personal experiences in your own life, I think are a great way. To be able to, to be able to teach kids those life lessons, through the game of basketball. And so I’m sure that that’s a powerful story that when you’re telling it, you know, I’m sure that the kids at basketball camp are sitting and staring up at you.
And I know what that feeling is like from running basketball camp here, we’re in the same boat that you are wondering whether or not we’re going to have it this summer is going to be a year, a year 28 for me. with, with youth basketball camps in the summer. And so the, the ability [00:39:00] to stand in front of 75 or a hundred kids and.
And share those things and be able to teach those life lessons. And, one of the things that we always do is we spend a lot of time talking about, about sportsmanship at our basketball camp and how important that is and just why that has an impact, not just on what you do today as an athlete, but how important it is just in life to be able to treat people that you’re interacting with in, in a positive way.
And I know that when I do that, and I stand up and share my stories. Kids get quiet and they’re, they’re listening because they want to hear from somebody who they know and somebody that they can relate to. And I’m sure it’s the same there for you, we touched on for you, you touched on five-star, and I know we talked about it before we jumped on today, how important and influential that was in your coaching career.
So this seems like a time that we can jump into that. I’ll tell you a quick Jerry Wainwright story, from my time. So I [00:40:00] went to Fivestar just once as a player. between my junior and senior year. And the thing that I remember about Jerry Wainwright, and it’s not necessarily, it’s just, it’s just what I remember is the whole week that I was there, I felt like he never had a shirt on.
You’re right. I feel like he never, I feel like he never wore. A shirt. My recollection of him, I can, I can see him like standing under the pine trees at the one end of the, of the courts right before you go up the Hill with his shirt off. And I had this very vivid picture of him just being all over the camp, but with, without a shirt.
So that’s my, it’s not a very, It’s not a very basketball related story about him, but that’s what I remember from my week at five star.
Jim Psaras: [00:40:44] You are right white, because that was Jerry as hot as it was in those courts in Pittsburgh or in Honesdale. I mean, it was a, you know, we didn’t have the air conditioned, gyms back then.
It was like, so I remember Jerry, I just looked through photos [00:41:00] this morning, last week, on Facebook, on the five stars. And again, you saw pictures of Jerry with no shirt on, and it was just. Common goal that you would say that.
Mike Klinzing: [00:41:11] So how’d you get connected to five star? What’s the first connection? How do you get an opportunity to go out there and work?
Jim Psaras: [00:41:17] So, while I was at university of Rhode Island, I would play in the off season with some of the players. you know, when they had pickup games, you know, after the season or before the season. And. One of the guys that was manager. I actually became good friends with two of the former players that were at end of the year of academics.
They were brothers and they had on the team was a manager. Well, that manager was one of the managers on the team at the time was Lee Klein. So they connected me. They obviously, we played in a mural. I played in the murals with the two brothers, you know, a, and a mural team, six, eight, six, nine, you know, it was nice to have them as your big guys, but, [00:42:00] so, but they connected me to Lee after hearing about me and coaching.
And then Lee asked me if I would want to work camp. And that was back in my first year was the summer of 89. 1989 and I started there at camp. Then I remember going down the first time, and you know, it wasn’t a station master, and I went around camp and I had my notebook and I’m sitting there watching John Calipari, who’s an assistant at Pittsburgh at the time, and Pete Gillen.
I mean, it went on and on and the lectures, and that was like. For me, like getting a master’s degree, the beginning of beginning a master’s degree that would take, you know, years and years to learn and just being a sponge and just all of a sudden now I’m, you know, second year, second year, as a first year as head coach, you know, just finished and I wanted to [00:43:00] camp there and it was like.
Basketball habit at the time you just, you were at camp for seven days and we worked like 16 hour days and at that age we all loved it. And we, and I spoke to some of the guys this past week, we’d give a week to go back to have that atmosphere and that the way it was, but it just for me, became like, wow, there’s so much more than going to a clinic.
Back then was USA basketball clinics that were in hotels. This was like, like, you know, you were being indoctrinated into really what basketball wasn’t in the lifeblood of it because at the time. Five style. Was it everywhere? It was the best teaching camp at the time, you know? but, and it was like, you know, the quote is, you know, where the teaching never stops.
So that’s where it started for me was with Lee Klein.
Mike Klinzing: [00:43:54] It was such a different. You’re a, and it was such a different time and you look back on that, and [00:44:00] I just think about the amount of, as you said, teaching that went on at five star and going through and doing the stations, and obviously then you had the, the quote optional station 13 where not only did.
You know, the, the players want to be a part of that. But it was such an honor for coaches to be able to be selected to be the coach of station 13 and a. And then the thing that always strikes me about it, especially when we compare it to sort of the way the basketball world is today, you know, it’s amazing when you look back at some of the players that went through there and you think that basically they were playing on.
Converted 10 tennis courts outdoors on the cement in the hot sun. And these are the best guys across the country that would annually make that trip two to five star. And you CA you compare and contrast that with sort of today’s, you know, you think about the top 50 players [00:45:00] back then, the top 50 players today.
And you know, the top 50 players today are. Traveling around the country and playing an air conditioned gyms and have gear that’s paid for by one of the shoe companies and they just, it’s such a different atmosphere. And it would be, it would be interesting. Two, if you could throw both groups in a time machine and take the best high school players from the late eighties early nineties and catapult them up into, you know, the, the 2000 twenties and have them play in the situation that we have today.
And then conversely to take the guys from today and throw them back out of the tennis courts in a hundred degree weather and just let each group experience what the group today or the group. In the past was experiencing. And I think it would be interesting to be able to have those kinds of conversations with guys because the system is just so, so different.
And obviously I always say that when you’re talking to somebody who’s kind of from our era. I’m very nostalgic for that. For that old time basketball where there [00:46:00] was more pickup ball, there was more, there was more of those fundamental camps as opposed to they use circuit that we have today. And I know there’s good and bad to both, you know, to both systems, but, but I think that if you put a player from 2020 back in bed, back at five star in 1987, they would be looking around going, what is this?
Why, why are we out here on the tennis courts in a hundred degree weather?
Jim Psaras: [00:46:25] Yeah. I think the, you know, one of the things that obviously to me that Sandra is the, the, the amount of distractions that are, the kids, during this time have, where back then there was no distraction. You were at camp. you can only use a payphone to, to reach out, to try to touch base with somebody.
There was no outside touching, you know, communication with anybody you are at camp. And it was like you were fully engaged in everything that was going on. And, and it was only one thing that mattered [00:47:00] at the time, and it was basketball. And, and now there’s so many distractions of, you know. A tournament or coaches or social media.
I mean, it goes on and on. And I think obviously that would be unique thing to see, you know, the past against the present. But I think the value of that really, That hard work and ethic of like devoting and committing and pouring everything in and not allow any distraction to be part of it. It was unique back then, and I just wish, you know, not, you know, I’m not speaking on the behalf of the group, but, but that, that laser like focused that bullseye mentality.
Was I believe, like back from our culture on our time that, you know, I would love to see more of now, and I think it will come back in some, some phase, some way.
Mike Klinzing: [00:47:51] How did you handle that sort of changing player, just changing environment over the course of, you know, your, your 26 years as the, [00:48:00] as the varsity coach.
I’m sure that that aspect of it changed in terms of how you dealt with players and how you were trying to figure out how to best reach them. So. Can you talk a little bit about just maybe how you had to handle things differently as those changes came to be? So as phones became more prevalent, as these distractions became more prevalent, did you have to make any adjustments in terms of how you tried to get your players to focus in when they were with you, as you know, at practice or games or whatever the situation may have been?
Jim Psaras: [00:48:32] Yeah, I mean, the phones started to come in a little bit towards the end there. But for me, the focus, you know, for our guys, you know, communication with them was always just, you know, trying to reach out. And sometimes it was tough when you get a kid who transferred in that may have been at another school, wherever, you know, and developing that rapport and that relationship with the kids from, if he was giving him a ride home or giving them a ride home if they needed, obviously rides because our high school was in the other end of [00:49:00] town.
I think, you know, like one of the things was, you know, kids used to like to listen to music and it was great, you know? But like, I think it was like what we did every day in, and that’s what culture is. But for us, back then it was like, this is what we did all the time, was like when guys wanted to listen to music or you know, it was fine, but when it was before, when it was during the JV game was going to start.
We took all the headphones off. It was like we were focused on supporting our T, our, our, our JVs and building, you know, that togetherness where our varsity was gonna root for our junior varsity. And, you know, like on bus rides up, we’d, you know, we’d, we’d listen to headphones and everybody would be in silence.
We’d have a bus ride. That was just. Focus on what we needed to do. so I think a lot of those types of things I did to try to, you know, develop a, a program of, [00:50:00] you know, togetherness and teamwork, you know, outside of the, the, you know, the, the basketball court alignment. so, I didn’t get to answer your question with the phones as much, but I guess for me it was more of like, look.
We’re focused on. I won’t be, it is a time and a place for it and this is not the time or place for it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:50:21] It makes total sense. One more five star question. When you think back to all the great lectures that you heard and we mentioned before we jumped on that you had some tapes of some of those things that you were able to save and keep from your time there.
Is there one particular lecture or maybe two that stand out to you or a personality? One of the coaches that just. Really, you already mentioned coach Wainwright’s, speech and how that impacted you. But is there one or two others that you remember the message, you remember the charisma of the speaker, somebody that really you listened to and you were like, wow, I gotta I gotta make sure that I incorporate this into my coaching?
Or just something that [00:51:00] struck you, through some of the great lectures you were able to hear as part of five star.
Jim Psaras: [00:51:04] Yes. Hubie Brown and Rick Pitino. the way that. You could see that, you know, human Brown spoke the way he used his voice, the way elevated his tone, the way he commanded the audience, and the audience at the time was the players.
And the coaches, the way he taught the aspects, and he didn’t speak fast. It was, it was so much like, it was like a T. It was like a wave of his knowledge coming out in his voice and just controlling the room. And then you could see, Rick Pitino had that same passion, but that same, the use of his voice where you could control the room and reach inside everybody’s brain and, and, and register and say, Hey, listen.
You know, this is what’s important and everyone be laser like focus, paying attention. [00:52:00] Obviously you’d had some people would nodding off because they were tired from lack of sleep, but I remember those. I remember those. And then again, I guess I’d say mob Kessler and his humor, a mob. Kessler was the poet of the hardware golf used to call him.
And, just as humor in his knowledge of basketball, but the way he delivered. Yeah, it was his shtick as they used to call it, how we delivered a lecture, and how knowledgeable he was. But he delivered it in a different way than, she’ll be Brown and red potato did, but yet the bottom line was the same.
They were educating and teaching the players and coaches.
Mike Klinzing: [00:52:39] Yeah. It’s just amazing. Not only the players that went through there, but when you just think about the, it’s basically a roll call of the who’s who. Of coaching, and I think that’s the piece of it, that it’s one thing to be able to attract the great players year after year after year, but to be able to attract the quality and level of coaches [00:53:00] that were part of that five star family was just an incredible, incredible accomplishment.
And I think that’s what made it so unique and special. And it’s one of those things, like we talked about off the top that I get, I get nostalgic whenever we talk about it just because. Again, I only went to one week and I never went there as a coach. Only went there for one week as a player, but yet it just felt like such a legendary place to be because of all the great people, excuse me, that have gone through there.
When you were there, who was a player that made an impact on you? just in terms of, wow, this kid is, this kid is a special player, special person who was there anybody that, the audience may have, may recognize the name, somebody that you, that really stood out for you while you were coaching at five star,
Jim Psaras: [00:53:49] Vince Carter, Vince Carter, Stephon Marbury.
They just did a piece on stuff up Stephon Marbury the other day. [00:54:00] but I remember having Vince Carter on my team when he was a junior in Pittsburgh. We were at camp, I think it was who was a Juliet. No one knew about them yet. and I remember we were practicing and working on him coming off the screen and roll and, you know, trying to teach him, you know, the options and the angles, and.
I just remember him, you know, having so much gifted athletic ability, it was unbelievable. And next thing you know, he has a great junior season before you know what he was like, Becomes a high school American, you know, the next year. and stiff mom. Maberry I would say, I mean, there was so many big East ACC type Atlantic 10.
I mean, kids are, went to the elite schools. You know, I remember Matt, and I never forget there’s a, it was a playoff game one night and honed sail up in the mountains. It’s in [00:55:00] August, and one of the games had gone like a couple of overtimes. So this, this game, and I’ll never forget it was on court for, and it got delayed.
So the rest of the games are kind of finished ahead. So this game got a really late start. So. Stephon Marbury was on the court and obviously it was a bunch of kids from all over, but there was a great mix of New York city kids and the courts started to grow with more and more campers around the perimeter of watching this game.
It became one of the most competitive games I’ve ever seen on any level in high school called it was like you were playing an NBA championship or you were playing in the national championship for college. I’m not court at that time. And I remember Stefan being in the game and just the competition and then just the excitement from the fans around it.
The coach, even the coaches were watching the game, cause it was like the last game going on. It was behind [00:56:00] 45 minutes from when we were supposed to finish everything. And just watching that impact. And I remember Stefan being in that game and just, you know, just how, how terrific player he was.
Mike Klinzing: [00:56:11] That to me really is what.
Basketball is all about. When I think about some of my fondest memories, yeah. There. There. I have great memories of organized basketball, being a high school player and having the good fortune to be able to be a college player, but a lot of my best memories are just playing pickup basketball on the playground, on the asphalt with guys of all different ages and all different walks of life.
And I probably have just as fond of memories or just as many memories from that time. Of my life as compared to organized basketball. And I think when you see, when you see an impromptu game, like a camp game is that’s somewhat organized, but obviously not to the same degree of a high school or college game.
And as you said, when that, when that level of competition, when it gets down to, [00:57:00] and you boil basketball down to that, me versus you. Aspect of it. And I think that’s when it really gets fun. And I think, you know, we talked about off the top of the podcast about what makes you fall in love with the game of basketball.
And for me it was always that, I think it was always that competition of, I could always. Have a measuring stick to try to prove myself against you. So it all ultimately comes down to even within that five on five game, there’s still those, those one versus one battles that the competition boils down to.
And I’m sure you think back to that game that you were describing that Marbury’s playing in, and I’m sure there was some kid who didn’t have the reputation that Marbury had that was out there saying, I’m going to guard this guy and I’m going to. Give them everything I have. And to me, that’s really what basketball boils down to.
Is that fun? Me versus you? We’re testing ourselves against each other, and I’m sure that that you felt that as a player, you probably felt that as a coach when you’re out there just competing and try to do your best. And that’s what [00:58:00] makes the game fun.
Jim Psaras: [00:58:01] So I couldn’t agree with you more on like, you’re in it 100% all
Mike Klinzing: [00:58:05] right.
Let me ask you about, let’s go back to, let’s jump back to you as a high school coach. Talk to me a little bit about, I know one of the things that, that coaches have to deal with all the time and figure out what their philosophy is going to be, in regards to parents. So talk to me a little bit about how you try to engage the parents of your players in your program so that you can ensure that you had the support of the parents of your players.
Jim Psaras: [00:58:33] I think just the way I treated the kids. I mean, obviously I was, we were, we had some high standards at the time. I think, you know, getting their involvement in support of, you know, if it was, you know, gatherings that. You know, our players houses or, you know, if we were going to have a gathering at our house, you know, you know, the parents help contribute, you know, towards that.
but just their support. Like I was lucky, to have my, you [00:59:00] know, start out with a group and I was lucky to have supportive parents, you know, and I, I truly believe, you know, that obviously, you know, not everyone agrees with every decision you make. But I leave it, I believe at that time, you know, they were supportive of also what we did and they were supportive of our program, but they were supportive from the way that, you know, they, you know, kind of kept their distance and agree or disagree.
They just kept the distance. And I think that’s how they were supportive to us. As I reflect back and, you know, there’d be conversations you might have with them, but nothing about like playing time or anything like that. I think they trusted. my decision making, even though I was younger, you know, obviously it was going to make tons of mistakes, but I think they value the relationships that I had developed with their kids and they trusted me.
And then, you know, obviously, it was a learning process every day [01:00:00] and every year we had to learn from the mistakes. But I just believe that, you know, my, I had my, my, I had their best interests at heart. And it may have not looked at that like at that time, but I think, you know, the kids truly knew, that I had their best interest.
And I think the parents knew, you know, that I, I had, I supported the kids in whatever they needed, or, you know. The, you know, watch it from us, what they might need for leadership or guidance or that’s father figure. You know, I try to provide for a lot of them because, you know, in my, you know, my, my dad had passed away at a younger age.
So for me it was almost like I became a father figure to a lot of them. Yeah.
Mike Klinzing: [01:00:44] I think that trust and building that relationship with the kids first, and when parents see that you have their kids’ best interests at heart, I think that tends to alleviate a lot of issues that might end up being a factor if the [01:01:00] parents didn’t feel that way about their head coach.
Because if they know that you have the best interests of their child at heart and they know that you’re communicating with their child and with them, and. It just makes things a lot easier, when, when you have that trust and you have that relationship, and especially for you, as you went along in your career, I’m sure that once you’ve been there 10, 12, 15 years.
That that trust factor becomes even stronger and especially as your program has success. And I’m sure that makes it easier to be able to, to handle and engage the parents and get their support. And over time I know that that’s something that most coaches as they go along and further in their career, they get better at figuring out how to, how to manage those parent relationships so that you end up keeping your parents being supportive.
Cause obviously as a coach, your situation is much better when. You have the support of parents as opposed to a situation where you have parents grumbling in the stands all the time. [01:02:00] Yeah.
Jim Psaras: [01:02:00] I mean, it’s been interesting because, you know, I’ve learned so much by watching, but avid having my. My children, you know, one go through high school now in college and then one going through high school now being able to sit from a different seat.
But I was always very mindful of when my kids started playing, all the, all the things that I watched when I went to scout and see parents in the stands. And just kinda learning from situations like, you know, how I wanted it to be as a parent and understanding after I had kids. You know what I mean? That you know, okay, now I go with it.
I was able to see things from a different perspective, from their eyes now, rather than from my eyes as a coach when I first started, because my first one, my daughter, joy was not born until 1999 so I already been in coaching at the time for 10 years, and I didn’t have the lens to see the eyes of a parent [01:03:00] until.
After my kids were born. Now I was looking through a different set of glasses and totally understanding and a much better aspect. So for me, it was a different learning curve that now as a parent, you know, you know, as I say to my friends, you know what? If I get back into the game, if the timing is right, the situation’s right.
I am 100 times a better coach than the day I retired. So I think the value of learning the relationships with parents and seeing different things. both sides of it as a coach and now a parent has been really beneficial to me becoming a parent.
Mike Klinzing: [01:03:37] I think there’s no question that that changes your perspective on how you look at things.
And I’ll share a story from my own coaching background. When I was a young coach and I got my first teaching job, I think I was. I think I was 25 when I got my first teaching job and I was an assistant varsity coach and we had a JV coach who was just out of college who was two years younger [01:04:00] than me and our varsity coach has maybe in his early thirties and there were times where we would have, in the preseason, we have these three and a half hour practices and school would end and we’d be practicing and nobody had any idea ourselves.
You know, our, our staff included a, when these practices were going to end. And I think back to that now. And of course at that point I was a single guy, no kids, no wife, nowhere really to be. So it didn’t matter. We could have practiced for a half hour, we could have practiced for six hours. It really didn’t make any difference.
But now you look back at that and you think, boy, that had to be really annoying for parents that their kid would be at practice and they would have no idea. What time that practice was going to end. And this was probably 1995 1996 so you’re talking about a lot of people at that point, you know, kids didn’t have phones and they weren’t able to communicate, Hey, it’s time to come pick me up.
And you know, I were parents sitting outside the school waiting for, you know, in their cars for an hour. I have no idea. Because it just wasn’t even on [01:05:00] my, it wasn’t even on my radar radar. And so to your point, I think as you grow and mature and you become a parent yourself, it definitely changes the way you look at some of the things you do as a, as a coach.
And I know it changed me as a teacher thinking about just again, trying to remember that this kid who’s in front of me is, is somebody’s kid, and I have to make sure that I’m doing the best that I can. Just like. Their parents do the best that they can for them. And I think that’s important for coaches and teachers to remember it.
I think it’s a perspective that you really only get when you have your own kids and you have your own family, because when you’re single and you don’t have kids, there’s just no way to look at it through, as you said, the same lens that you do once you have a family. And that leads to my next question, which is.
Once you had your family, how did you, how did you balance your ambition as a basketball coach with the needs of your family at home? Cause I know that’s one of the things that we’ve talked with a lot of coaches about on the podcast. [01:06:00] when they talk about some of their biggest challenges, and they always say that trying to be able to figure out how to dedicate the amount of time that they want to dedicate to their basketball.
And yet. They also want to be able to be there and be a good father, be a good husband, and be there with their family. So how did you bow? How did you balance that once a, once your family got started?
Jim Psaras: [01:06:23] You know, it, it was a balancing. It was an interesting balancing act, you know, my two or four and a half years apart, what I remember, you know, having to really understand how to budget my time better and, and,
I think I didn’t do a great job with it early on because I just didn’t know any better that, I mean, you know, you know, I grew up as a, as a, as an only child, so I didn’t have any siblings, you know, and then, so there was a lot of things that I didn’t. I understand [01:07:00] and raising a family. And so I think there was a learning process, even now as a parent, as all parents have.
But I believe that, there was so many things that, I had to change from, you know, I was still like so passionate about the game, but you know, now obviously, you know, you appreciate when you don’t have children. You know the time you said you saw winded, what did I do with all that time?
Mike Klinzing: [01:07:28] I can relate to that statement. Oh, sure. Exactly. So I [01:07:31] stopped. I stopped sleeping. That’s what I, that’s what I did.
Jim Psaras: [01:07:34] Right. So I think, you know, I hadn’t really learned, and, and it was, it was like my kids were everything, but it was like, I loved basketball so much that I. You know, I needed to, you know, something that changed so I could completely understand, you know.
What it meant to be a parent and a father. And I did, you know, I worked hard at it and did the best I can [01:08:00] and still working at it, you know, cause we’re always working at trying to get better for our kids. but you know, it, it, it was tough. you know, because there’d be times where I was, you know, you know, it is getting back late from a game or you’re not there to pick up your kid from school and you come home and.
You know, it’s dinner time, it’s time for bed. And you know, you just didn’t feel like you were spending the time and it’s kind of, you’re at, as that period of time went on, you know, I think, you know, things started to change a little bit for me. And, you know, it became, you know, I ended up being in a new phase of basketball and just kind of things started to change for me.
And, I think, You know, being a parent now, as my kids were getting to that age where they were in elementary school, middle school, I started seeing some changes.
Mike Klinzing: [01:08:53] Yeah. And I don’t think you can anticipate that. Like we said earlier with before you have kids, I don’t think you can really understand what [01:09:00] that’s like.
And I know for me it was, it was tough. I, when I, when I stepped away from high school coaching, I was. Probably live in about 45 minutes away from my school. I had slowly, I was the only person who kept moving further and further away from my job over the course of the time where I worked there. And so then it became where, you know, we, we’d have a home game and I used to be able to.
Go home right after school and, you know, grab a bite to eat with my wife and my kids and you know, and then still get back up to the school for the game. And now that I’m living farther away, I couldn’t do that. And I was just gone all the time. And it was, it was difficult. And eventually I decided that it was time for me to step away and look for different, a different way to, you know, to, to impact kids through basketball and, and coaching at the high school level.
And I, and I stepped away from it and I, cause I just couldn’t, I couldn’t find. I couldn’t find that right balance with my commute and just all the things that went along with it. And I know that it’s something that coaches, that coach has struggle with and [01:10:00] everybody has to figure it out. And as you said, there’s definitely a learning curve too.
To figuring out how do I, how do I make this work? So I, so I don’t short change one side of the equation against the other. And it’s, it’s tough. I mean, coaches, coaches struggle with it. I want to go to a, what you’re doing, what you’re doing now with your youth camps and with your Academy. So talk a little bit about when you got that started, how you got it started, and then what you, what you love about, about working those, and having those youth camps.
Jim Psaras: [01:10:32] So I, it started when I retired in 2014 I obviously wanted to stay involved. I wanted to continue to teach. So I, camp actually, you know, at that point in 2014, you know, it was still rolling. And still to this day, I run the camp and. the, the Academy, I started in the fall after I retired, and I do it in the fall and the spring for like a six week period.
And, you know, I’ve changed the ages of [01:11:00] it a little bit too over the years to try to get a better balance of, you know, and basically it’s me just to give the kids an opportunity to continue to learn, to be coached. To teach the things I love and miss about the game and, you know, and, and, and relationships with these, with these kids.
And some of these kids I have in elementary school, you know, and then they move up to the middle school. And so I have, you know, a foundation of relationships with a lot of them, some that I don’t. it gives me the opportunity to build more relationships. And for me, I think that’s one of the things I miss.
Was the relationships with teams, building teams, building relationships with kids, having lifelong relationships with them. And I think this, the Academy and the camps allowed me to stay in contact. I have now obviously communication with the coaches that work for us in camp in the summer. And, you know, it’s a lot [01:12:00] of it for me is become, giving back to the community.
And I found that. Probably about 1520 years ago, how important it was to give back to our communities. And I wanted to continue to give back to our community with camp and continue it. And it wanted to even branch out and run skills Academy to teach the kids, you know, and give back and say, Hey, look, you don’t need to travel 45 minutes or 50 minutes or an hour away.
You know, we have knowledge right here in our area. You know, I’ve got experiences that I will share and I’m continuing to educate myself and I’ve never stopped learning. And so I continue to learn and apply even the things that are in the game now, on top of what I already knew. So I’m trying to expand my portfolio from aspect of my knowledge and my experience and share not only for my skills Academy, but my former assistants, my former players who are out coaching.
[01:13:00] If it’s a new middle school or high school assistant coach, freshman coach, varsity coach, even coaches that were in our coaches association. I’m trying to be a mentor to them and I’m trying to expand that aspect. That’s something of a newer phase and say, Hey, look, there’s a lot you need to know about coaching.
I don’t have all the answers, but. I’ve been through lots, a lots of experiences, and I want to give back to our community and to our state or whoever would want to listen. That’s where, you know, it’s just a matter of, you want to listen.
Mike Klinzing: [01:13:36] Yeah, that’s very cool to be able to reach out and have an impact, not just on players, but to be able to impact coaches.
And I think that’s how you multiply your influence is not only are you able to work with the players that are right in front of you, but when you can work with coaches and then those coaches can go out and share and teach the game and utilize the things that you’ve been able to impart to them. To [01:14:00] me, that’s tremendously valuable.
And that’s an area that I see more and more coaches. Diving into, and it’s an area that because of the technology that we have available to us, it makes it so much easier for us to be able to share, not only in person our knowledge with other coaches, but you know, now, obviously during this time when we’re all shut down, people are all figuring out how to use zoom and how to use Google Hangouts and different things.
And of course. What we’re doing here with the podcast is another way for coaches to be able to have a platform to share with other coaches and help help them to become better at their craft. And to me, that’s really what it’s all about. And we think about coaches helping coaches. I want to ask you one final question about the youth camps and then we’ll start to wrap things up.
And that is, when you think about [01:14:44] running a youth camp, and this is something that is near and dear to my heart as somebody who’s done it for a long, long time. What is one. Key thing that you think is really, really important when you’re running a quality youth camp. If you had to pick out one [01:15:00] thing that when you think about your camps, what’s something that sort of encapsulates what you’re trying to accomplish during, during your camp with the kids?
Jim Psaras: [01:15:10] Having fun.
Mike Klinzing: [01:15:13] There you go. That’s number one. I couldn’t agree more.
Jim Psaras: [01:15:16] Yeah. When we finish our camp week. Outside, right after my final lecture, we have a camp knockout game and you know, our numbers are probably, you know, you know, we have limited numbers who we, cause I don’t want to have a lot of kids in our camp cause I want kids to have relationships with the coaches, every coach.
I told them when they start the day, you need to know every kid’s name by the end of the week I, and so we get in the camp now game we might have, you know. 40 to 50 kids with the coaching staff. We play a knockout game and the winner of the knockout game, the opposite group has to do pushups. So coaches against the campers.
And it is what every camper looks [01:16:00] forward to all week long, you know? And it is so much fun, you know, you know, when they beat the coaches. Staff, and then we have to do the pushups. It’s like they’ve all won a million dollars, so that would to me be what camp would be about, would be about fun every day.
Obviously learning, getting better, but it’d be about being, having fun.
Mike Klinzing: [01:16:21] Yeah. There’s no doubt. I think that that if you’re a coach out there and you’re thinking about putting together a youth camp, or you’re already running one, I think that you have to remember, especially when you’re working with young kids.
That the most important thing you can do is make sure they have fun. Then the second thing is make sure they learn something. And the third thing that I always point out to parents and the kids on the first day is what we hope is that this three days or five days, or one day or however long it is, the event that we’re doing that when they’re done with it, that we’ve inspired them to want to go and play more basketball.
And you try to inspire that love of the game. And we all know as coaches. That if we can [01:17:00] inspire the love of the game and our players at whatever age, then those are the kids who are going to go out and work at it and get better and improve, and that’s really what it’s. That’s really what it’s all about.
Before we wrap up, Jim, I want to give you a chance to share how people can get in touch with you. If you want to share an email, a website, social media, whatever you’d like to share so people can reach out to you if they have questions or they just want to get in connection with you. Go ahead and do that now and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
Jim Psaras: [01:17:26] Okay. So my email address is B as in boy, B as in boy. Again, the word doctor, number one at me.com. It’s BB firstname.lastname@example.org. my, website is my last name, Sarah’s dot net. And that has everything on there about, camps, skills Academy, and even like, you know. A background of me in there as well. and then I, my YouTube [01:18:00] channel is, my first name, but James, my last name, Psaras@gmail.com.
And that’s where we have a bunch of stuff. and I would say those are the most important ones now. And you can reach me on either email BBdoctor1@me.com or jamespsaras@Gmail.com and then the website, Psaras.net. and obviously if anybody would love to call ’em easy contact, my number is four zero one.
Six, four, one, two, three, one, six. and I just, you know, I want to continue to give back. So, you know, like you said, we’ve been starting some social, some media, some zones as the last night with coaches and we tried to expand that and get back and hopefully, you know, continue to share and most important continue to learn.
Mike Klinzing: [01:18:55] Absolutely. Jim cannot thank you enough for spending an hour and 20 minutes or [01:19:00] so here with us this morning. It’s been a pleasure getting to hear a little bit more about your story and all the great things you’ve learned over the course of your long career there as a head varsity basketball coach and Rhode Island.
So thank you for jumping on with us and to everyone out there. We will catch you on our next episode.