The good kids do win. The ones that work the hardest. The ones that make no excuses, that are good teammates and are coachable. They don’t ask for favors or special treatment. They put their head down and go to work. They hope to be seen, not heard. These are the kids you root for and hope their dreams come true. CASSIDY KRUISE of St. Rose high school is one of those kids. This week it became just a little easier to root for the good kids and good families. That’s because Cassidy Kruise got a full scholarship offer to THE UNIVERSITY TAMPA and said, I’ll take it and it was time to feel good.

When Cassidy Kruise entered St. Rose High School, she was not a hot shot freshman. She was just a typical freshman hoping to make varsity and play a little. Instead she became a starter and one of the pillars of the team and program. She did that by making herself useful. That’s  because she knew the St. Rose basketball program under Coach Mary Beth Chambers was built on defense. So she decided to become one of the best defensive players in the Shore Conference as a freshman. Coach Chambers turned her loose on some of the best offensive players in the Shore. Those very same defensive skills have served her well the past two years. But last season Cassidy Kruise wanted to become more of offensive player. She wanted to become a complete player, known not just for defensive skills but for doing everything on a court. So she surrounded herself with a first class team. A team they would show her the light. A team that would help her reach of dream of playing at the one school and the only school she could see herself at…..THE UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA.


James Cooper Jr is an excellent coach and trainer. He also is at master at building confidence in kids. Not the phony rah rah confidence that collapses under pressure and against top level competition. He builds confidence in kids though  real development. He and CASSIDY have been and are an unbreakable team. A team that got together everyday in the gym. I didn’t know much about Cassidy Kruise before I started seeing her day after day walk in the gym. But there she was everyday walking in the gym and working with James Cooper Jr.  There she was talking 100’s of shots. There she was working on real ball handling. There she was sweating and grinding. The result of  all this, something beautiful happened. Something developed more than basketball. A friendship and trust that comes from truly believing in something together. James Cooper Jr believed in Cassidy and she believed in him. They bet on each other and the result has been Cassidy Kruise has now developed into one of the best two way guards in the Shore Conference. James Cooper brought her to the light. He gave her what she needed, the mental toughness to believe she could be superwoman on the basketball court. He allowed her to think different and play difference. In a way CASSIDY’S ANGEL, aka, James Cooper gave her the thing all great players need….. swag!

ST. ROSE doesn’t get the attention of a RBC or SJV. But over the past decade. They have won a SCT, made it to the TOC finals and recently under former Coach Mary Beth Chambers won a state title. St. Rose has been one of the best programs in the state. But exposure and credit sometimes is  hard to get in the Shore Conference. So picking an AAU team is very important. It’s where many kids gain a reputation, sometimes earned and somethings not. AAU is not exactly a place filled with milk and honey. Too often it’s about agenda’s and backdoor shady deals.  Many kids pick AAU teams for all the wrong reasons. Cassidy Kruise picked the CJ HAWKS for all the right reasons. You see the Hawks Coach, RANDY WESTROL has seen it all. He has done it all as well. He has coached at every level and has sent kids off to college at every level. But his real strength is RANDY is not your typical AAU coach, he always puts his kids first before anything else.

Randy’s right hand man LOU PAOLILLO is not your typical assistant AAU coach. He coaches the insanely talented and highly recruited RBC team in the fall. He knows what talent looks like. But more importantly Lou has a passion for kids. His mission is simple, give kids a healthy, fun, experience and a chance. His faith and trust in Randy Westrol is like no other AAU assistant Coach anywhere…this is not talk but a FACT! That’s because he knows Randy Westrol doesn’t lie or misrepresent to kids what to expect. He doesn’t exaggerate what is to be expected or give false evaluations of a kids talent level. Randy is something of an odd ball in AAU coaching. He is honest and straight forward, two things that often don’t work very well in the AAU basketball world. What Randy does is hold everyone accountable. Then he teaches and teaches and teaches some more. Then he gives kids truth and his assistant Lou Paolillo backs that truth up with actions and support. The result is the CJ HAWKS run one of the healthiest AAU programs in the state. No drama, no trouble making parents. Just ole school but the right school AAU, everyone gets to play and everyone gets to shine. Randy WESTROL and the CJ HAWKS organization gave CASSIDY KRUISE something nobody else could give her. A platform where she could showcase her entire game and do it under the spotlight with the right coaches watching. She has watched her game soar under Randy, but just as important. The guidance of Randy Westrol during the entire recruiting process of the court has been priceless.




The last two years Cassidy Kruise has went to the UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA ELITE CAMP. She has wanted to attend the school from day one. But Tampa is in one of the best D2 conferences in the entire Country. They have facilities better than most D1 schools. They also play strictly for chips, going to the NCAA is expectation not a wish. They recruit players who become ALL AMERICANS.. It’s a program with a legendary coach in Tom Jesse He has been the Tampa head coach for 21 years. He has built something special that the entire community can take pride in. Coach Jesse career coaching record is almost cartoonish. Cassidy Kruise will hope to add to the remarkable record over the past 30 years.


Every family needs a super hero. Cassidy Parents have been just that. Her father,  Bill who is a Port Authority Policeman has given her the confidence all kids needs. He takes pride in knowing his daughter has defended every great guard in the state of New Jersey … NO EXCEPTIONS and watched her lived to tell the story. Her mother, Sheri is raising her 2 sisters  Shaylyn and Tara.  Both sisters need  a wheelchair to get around and need assistance to walk. Yet somehow she finds time to shower Cassidy and her entire family love. Both parents have helped Cassidy catch a dream and make it a reality. Both parents have showed her anything is possible. Her sisters strength and families strength have been real motivation for Cassidy. The good news about Cassidy attending TAMPA, is when her father retires the family  will be packing up and moving to Florida, just in time to bath in the sun and share in the glory of  watching their amazing daughter.

Now Cassidy will have a new Coach this year. The coach that trusted her and gave her a chance to start all this, Mary Beth Chambers is moving on to a new coaching challenge. But her love and respect for Cassidy cannot be put into words. What she has done for Cassidy truthfully cannot ever be repaid. She gave Cassidy a staring role from day one. She screamed to the mountains about her young guards’ talent and importance. She has watched Cassidy become a mature tough minded player. She also has watched Cassidy turn into a leader. Someone willing to accept accountability, come out of her comfort zone, take on the toughest of assignments, care more about the team than herself. Coach Chambers has watched Cassidy become the most respected player at St. Rose since her daughter Kasey Chambers won a TOC also ten years ago. It was Mary Beth Cambers who gave this to a quiet unassuming teenager and chance to go big and that’s exactly what Cassidy Kruise has done.











So it’s a wrap for now. When most kids sign it’s the start of a celebration and days off to soak it all in. Many will not be prepared for college for too may reasons to list. For Cassidy Kruise it will be back in the gym with James Cooper, back to her AAU CJ HAWKS team and back to working hard day after day. You see Cassidy Kruise has had to work harder than everyone else. She has to make more sacrifices. It’s never been easy or a care walk for she or her family… but these are the reasons the UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA are the  luckiest coaches on planet earth…they just have to wait two years for that luck to arrive.
























AUG 21 -25th


Related Post