Dougherty grad calling the shots at Del Val

Mark Seidenburg, a Dougherty grad, will start his fifth season as Delaware Valley University men’s basketball coach this year. CONTRIBUTED

Two down, one to go.

When Mark Seidenburg took over the Delaware Valley University men’s basketball program four years ago, he wanted to accomplish a few things.

He wanted to get the team based out of Doylestown to become a team of great people. He also wanted to make sure the team he fielded was full of great student-athletes. And, like any coach, he wanted to build a team that is capable of winning the Middle Atlantic Conference.

He has won his fair share of games during his career, leading the Aggies to two trips to the MAC Freedom playoffs, including his rookie year four years ago when they were the top seed in the playoffs.

But he’s not yet satisfied with where they are as a basketball team.

However he’s very pleased with the advances they’ve made as students and as people.

“As a basketball coach, you want to win, that’s the main thing, but the other aspects are just as important and it’s something I’m very proud of,” said Seidenburg, a Fox Chase native and 2001 graduate of Cardinal Dougherty High School. “You get student-athletes, so you want them to take the student part seriously. And our guys do that. They’re working very hard in the classroom and as a coach, how can you not be proud of that?

“And I want players who are an asset to the school, not just as basketball players, but as people. We have that. And we have a great class coming in. I love what these guys do in terms of playing basketball, but they are people you want to have in your school. When I recruit guys, that’s very important to me because it’s important to the school. It’s a great school, and I want people like that to come here.”

Seidenburg probably knows so much about the game because he’s done just about everything you can, in terms of playing and coaching.

At Dougherty, he entered his senior year as a starter, and later moved to a bench role and became one of the top defenders in the Catholic League.

During his senior year, he had an outstanding game in the first round of the playoffs when the fourth-place Cardinals knocked off a Father Judge team that finished the season 13-1 at La Salle University, helping Dougherty reach the semifinals.

“I had a few big shots, and I played well on defense, and I remember Ted Silary interviewing me after the game while we were all celebrating,” Seidenburg said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but I learned something about coaching that year because (Mark Heimerdinger) told me that he was going with a sophomore (Isaac Greer) over me. I know that was tough, but he was doing it because it was the right move.”

That’s a game Heimerdinger will never forget, and he remembers the performance Seidenburg put on. He also remembers what he brought to the table.

“Mark was a great competitor,” Heimerdinger said. “He was a great player to coach. I didn’t see him as a basketball coach, necessarily because you don’t usually see that, but I’m not surprised he’s doing so well. He battles and he loves to win.”

After leaving Dougherty, Seidenburg continued his basketball career at Manor before transferring to Elizabethtown College, where he graduated with a degree in history and a minor in business administration. He didn’t, however, play basketball for the entirety of his college career.

“I knew I had to make a decision, and while I loved basketball, I wasn’t good enough to do both at the time,” Seidenburg said. “I didn’t do enough, but I’m glad it happened the way it did. If I didn’t stop playing basketball, I’m not sure what would have happened, but I don’t think I’d be coaching.

Seidenburg got a great job out of college, working his way up to a six-figure salary in the business world, but he missed basketball, so he decided to give it up and get into coaching. At first, he was a volunteer assistant coach at the high school level.

He then got involved in coaching at the college level, serving as an assistant coach at Dickinson College, then Penn State Harrisburg and then at Messiah College, where he was an associate head coach, the position he held before he wound up at Del Val.

Most of those gigs were very time consuming, and the pay wasn’t very good. In fact, some of those gigs were volunteer. For extra cash, he got a job delivering food, but most of his expenses were paid for by his savings.

He credits an understanding family for allowing him to live his dream of getting into the coaching ranks.

“My wife (Misty) met a guy with a full-time job with a Fortune 500 company, and she was so supportive when I wanted to give it up to become a volunteer coach,” said Seidenburg, who along with his wife have three children, Camryn, 7, Christyan, 5, and Carsyn, 3. “There’s no way I could do it without her, she’s incredible.”

While those jobs might not be rewarding for Seidenburg’s bank account, they were plenty rewarding in other ways.

The best part is recruiting players and getting them a chance to go to college.

“Calling a young man and telling him he’s going to be able to play college basketball, getting them an opportunity is a great feeling,” said Seidenburg, who this year got a pair of local players, Jordan Gombs, of New Foundations Charter, and Aaron Wroten, of Tacony Charter. “You meet so many of these players, they’re good people. It’s a great feeling to bring guys like them into the school because they’re going to be great for the school. Forget basketball, they’re great additions to the school. And they’re also good basketball players.”

Now that he’s got the type of players he loves, he’s looking forward to getting in the gym and making them a great basketball team, too.

“We return a lot of talent and I really like the guys coming in,” Seidenburg said. “I love the character of the team. They’re great ambassadors for the school. You can’t have success as a basketball team until you have those other boxes checked, and we have that now.”