New men’s head basketball coach stresses importance of education

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Sam Casey, men’s basketball head coach, breaks the men trying out for the team into groups for a scrimmage Sept. 6 in Candler. This is Casey’s first semester coaching at this college. Casey will let the men know who made the team Sept. 7 at the second day of tryouts. Brianna Rodrigue

Six applicants were interviewed for the position.

By J. Del Valle

Sam Casey played basketball in Europe growing up. With his father in the Air Force, the family moved quite frequently and Casey witnessed the game of basketball played in different countries. 

Casey has a Bachelor of Science degree in sports management and recreation studies and Master of Science degree in recreation, sports and event management from the University of North Texas.

His basketball experience stretches from North America to Europe. He was coach, director and founder for basketball skills camps and clinics in Frankfurt, Germany, International all-American coach in Geneva and junior college and high school official referee. 

“Once he walked out of the door after the interview, I knew he was the right candidate,” said Marisa Martinez, senior specialist of student success. 

There are two mottos Casey goes by on and off the court, and he will implement those throughout the season:

FAST together, which is broken down letter by letter. F is for focus; the players will need to focus on their goal together. A is for aggressive; be aggressive on the court. S is for smart; players will need to make smart decisions on and off the court. T is for tough; be mentally, physically and emotionally tough.

The second motto is “next play” when a bad shot is attempted or a referee made a bad call. Don’t argue or hassle players. Referees and coaches move past it and get ready for the next play. Good sportsmanship will play a huge part of the team ethics. 

“Casey is a very well-rounded individual, caring and wants student athletes to succeed,” Martinez said.

The basketball practice schedule for the fall season will be 4-6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 6-8 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m.-noon Friday. A mandatory study hall for two hours follows Friday practice.

“Our guys start off at junior college to get their degree first and move on to bigger and better things in life,” Casey said. “I know some classes get difficult because I have been in their position. I learned the hard way, and I don’t want that for my guys.” 

A location for study hall has not been finalized. “I’m going to be heavily involved during study hall and going to try to have tutors there.” 

On the first day of tryouts, about 30 participants attended.

Casey observed the participants in a scrimmage.

He handpicked the participants and put them into teams of five players in four groups and directed them to grab a colored jersey and play for five minutes. 

During that time, Casey observed the participants’ sense of playing style. 

“When you get on the basketball court, it is like a job interview,” he said. “You start to see the cream rise to the top, and then I start looking for attitude, nonverbal and teamwork.” 

One of the first-time participants trying out for the team was biomedical science freshman Gabriel Trejo. 

During his five-minute interview on the court, “I made sure everybody was talking and involved,” Trejo said, “I wanted to set them up with easy passes to the basket.”

One of the returning players trying out for the team had a different goal. 

Criminal justice sophomore Steven Walters has played multiple positions, such as power forward, small forward and center. “This is my second year playing for The Rangers,” Walters said. “I want to get better as a player to transfer to St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y., and play for them.”

When asked about the new head coach, Walters said, “He’s got a solid plan for this squad.” 

Nineteen participants were invited back for the second round of tryouts Sept. 7. 

Sept. 8. Casey announced and posted the 2017-18 men’s basketball roster online. 

The first official game will be Oct. 11. 

“We are going to be a team of leaders. Leaders shouldn’t have others follow them; leaders walk alongside with the team,” Casey said. 

Email Sam Casey at or visit the men’s and women’s basketball website.


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