By: Ryan Durning
The Athletic Department at John Jay College has overhauled their coaching staff this semester. Six of the 15 teams we have are being run by new coaches, including the men’s and women’s basketball, men’s baseball, and men’s and women’s soccer. These changes were implemented by Carol Kashow, the athletic director who was hired in the spring of 2013.
“When I came in March 2013, that spring I spent a fair amount of time evaluating,” said Kashow in regards to how she approached making changes. “Some teams weren’t having [an] excellent academic experience.”
The ultimate goal of the athletic department, in Kashow’s eyes, is providing a good experience to the student athletes that make up the teams at John Jay. If overall record is what she means in terms of experience, she might be right.
Five of the teams that have new coaches are coming off losing seasons in at least two of the past three years. The men’s and women’s basketball team both went 9-17 overall, the men’s soccer team went 4-14-1, and the Women’s soccer team went 4-15 in their previous season. The men’s baseball team went 7-25 earlier this year.
All told, these five teams have racked up 33 wins and 88 losses combined in the past year which equals a .272 win percentage. College of Staten Island has a .694 win percentage and Brooklyn College, which doesn’t have a baseball team like the other teams do, has a .641 percent. Even the City College of New York had a .410 win percentage and they had only one team with a winning record.
“It was a simple matter of having different philosophies,” said Kashow in regards to the replacement of men’s basketball coach Otis Fenn. “There are a lot of ways to skin the cat, so to speak.”
Kashow repeatedly made mention of making sure John Jay athletes have an excellent academic experience. Coupled with the underperforming year that John Jay teams’ had, replacing almost half of the coaches seems less drastic even if it might have rubbed a couple players the wrong way.
“[Fenn] was here since I first got here so I guess he wanted to finish it out with [us],” said Korede Griffith, a student athlete on the men’s basketball team. “The fact that he couldn’t probably hurt him, but he’s a proud man so he’ll be fine.”
While most of the team said they didn’t have any real problems with Fenn’s leadership, some even went so far as to call him a cool person, they were focused on the future.
“I basically think she wanted to rebuild and he wasn’t a part of the process,” said men’s basketball player Darrell Robinson when asked about the coaching change. “[The new coach] is building a culture.”
Robinson’s culture remark is in reference to the fact that the new coach, Ryan Hyland, has the team doing conditioning and strength workouts already, something that Fenn apparently never had them do.
“He got us doing preconditioning,” said the 21 year old Griffith. “He has us meet together like once a week, it’s a good thing. [Fenn] wouldn’t have had this last year, we wouldn’t have been here.”
Former assistant coach of the women’s basketball team, Mike Williams, is heading up the preconditioning and weightlifting for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
“Coach Molly [Light] and Coach Ryan [Hyland] are very eager, they just want to win,” said Williams. “It’s really a fresh start in the sense that they’re not here to play any games. Coach Molly, her overall goal is to coach D1, she knows that to do that she needs to start winning championships at this level.”
Williams said he believes that Kashow is getting off to a good start, and he stressed that when he was hired he made it clear that it was championship or nothing for him. The new coaching changes aren’t always resulting in a noticeable change towards creating a winning philosophy yet though.
The Men’s and Women’s soccer teams are still underperforming significantly. The men’s soccer team, under the leadership of Bradley Johnson, is 5-9. The women’s soccer team currently has a 2-12 record under new coach Casey Sommers.
Other teams with new coaches, like men’s baseball and the cheerleading squad, won’t have a chance to display a change from last season until 2015 at the earliest. Men’s and women’s basketball starts in November so for now the excellent academic experiences Kashow values are still a work-in-progress.
“I think they got to be more aggressive with it, I know they came in and wanted to change things a little bit slowly. That’s great but then this team is getting left behind, the other teams in CUNY are not making those steps,” said Williams about how the athletic department should proceed from here on out. “They did a great job fixing the gym floor, a fantastic job, but now lets get athletes in the gym.”