USA Basketball Coaches Academy held their first camp in Philadelphia at Archbishop Ryan High School.
The United States of America and Philadelphia go hand in hand just like sports and the City of Brotherly Love. You just can’t have one without the other.
Despite the storied history of the Palestra, Sonny Hill Leagues and the 76ers, Philadelphia had never hosted a USA Basketball Coach Academy until this past weekend.
On June 2 and 3, the USA Basketball Coaches Academy, presented by Nike, held its first academy at Archbishop Ryan High School, 11201 Academy Road.
Coaches from the youth level, all the way up to collegiate basketball, were present for the two days of presentations from several of the region’s biggest names in the sport and even from a Naismith Hall of Famer.
About six months ago, Ryan boys basketball coach Joe Zeglinski heard about USA Basketball Coach Academy considering a trip to Philadelphia and immediately thought Ryan would be a good fit.
The two gymnasiums, the auditorium and different air-conditioned rooms for presentations were important factors in luring the academy to the school in addition to its proximity to major roadways.
Zeglinski was present at the Academy and took a great deal of information that he plans to implement for his team this upcoming season.
“I thought it couldn’t have went better,” said Zeglinski. “All day, it was just constant learning, new ideas for the coaches of the game. It was just interesting to see how every approach was different and every coach brought their unique style.”
He cited learning about offensive concepts from Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Billy Lange, hearing about team culture from University of Pennsylvania head coach Steve Donahue and having some of his players run drills with Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley as unforgettable moments of the weekend.
“He had them working,” Zeglinski said of Hurley. “Teaching them as a Hall of Fame coach, it’s a moment they won’t forget and I won’t forget.”
Don Showalter, USA Basketball Youth Division coach director and USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team head coach, has taken the academy through New York City the past couple of years, but he knew that Philadelphia would be a valuable stop for the group.
“The history of Philadelphia basketball and high school basketball in Philadelphia has been outstanding,” said Showalter.
With the bevy of coaches ranging from Villanova University men’s basketball assistant coach George Halcovage leading drills to Lower Merion High School girls basketball coach Monique Boykins and several others with great insight into the game, Showalter believes the experience for any coach should be a great one.
“You want to get one or two things to use for your team,” said Showalter.
Archbishop Ryan president Michael Barnett, who was vocal in bringing in the Academy to the school, was present for a great portion of the weekend and believes the lessons went beyond coaching.
“At the end of the day, the one thing that really stuck out to me was that they all saw this as a calling to be a coach and the center of their focus was just to increase the talent set and the holistic approach to each of these student-athletes,” said Barnett. “It wasn’t just making them better athletes, but making them better people.”
Barnett was honored that Ryan was selected to host the academy and believes this is just the beginning of other events taking place at the school.
“To have such a high-quality organization as USA basketball and the coaches that they brought with them to come in and select Archbishop Ryan, I just think it ties into the vision we have going forward of being the center of the community,” said Barnett.
USA Basketball’s next Coach Academy will take place in Las Vegas from July 25–27. ••
John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com