Today Mary Beth Chambers delivered the news that most in the Shore Conference knew about weeks ago. She has resigned as the Head Coach at St. Rose High School. The Purple Roses girls basketball team are one of the most successful programs in New Jersey. They are yearly one of the Top ranked teams in the state. They always are one of the Top 5 teams in the Shore Conference. With Coach Chambers moving on the big question is where does St. Rose go from here? The answer to that may lay in the recent history of the program. So I will give you a brief recent history of St. Rose and what I believe is next and make no mistake this is a program at the crossroads and that is not an exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination.
When Coach Joe Roman and his St. Rose team led by Sam Clarke and Kasey Chambers won the SCT title by shocking the Manasquan team led by the Mabrey sisters, Katelyn Flaterty and it all Division one starting five. It seem St. Rose was on it way to being a powerhouse in the state of New Jersey for years to come. But then after the season Coach Roman resigned and later became an asst coach at Rumson and currently Manasquan. When he left the program, there was little talent and what was expected to be a long term rebuilding job. Then enter Joe Whalen to replace Joe Roman. Whalen took a job that many believed was a grave yard. Most of the candidates for the job were either inexperienced, asst coaches and AAU coaches who all wanted the job. St. Rose was not considered a prime time job despite a SCT under its belt. But Whalen was a task master and masterful at attracting talent. He quickly got transfers like Jess Louro and Lucy Thomas later. Both who would become 1st Team All Shore players and he won a SCT and State Title. But in the end the program got sideways and Joe Whalen exited. Enter Mary Beth Chambers.
Mary Beth Chambers walked into one of; if not the toughest job in New Jersey. St. Rose had aggressive parents and players who in many cases where not happy and a guide frankly a handful. She needed to change the culture and continue the St. Rose winning ways at the same time and that’s exactly what she did. In her first year she was suspended for a rule that outraged many. The rule was later changed thanks to her but she missed her entire 1st season after coaching her team all spring and summer. It should have been a sign that some were undermining her program before she got started. St. Rose was not an easy place and why many top coaches wanted no part of the program. But all the drama had little affect on Coach Chambers who proved right out the gate. She was one of the best coaches in the entire state from day one; despite those trying to derail her and the St. Rose program. In her first year, she won the NON PUBLIC A TITLE and was ranked #4 in the entire state. All her seniors went on to D1 or D2 or D3 schools. It was dream start for Coach Chambers and the program. More importantly Mary Beth Chambers had taken a program in total disarray and brought stability. Something the St. Rose program needed desperately. The final Coach Chambers resume was maybe the most impressive in the state outside of SJV when you consider the schedule St. Rose played under Coach Chambers.
HERE IS A LIST OF ACCOMPLISHMENT DURING THE CHAMBERS YEARS…. HE MAY GO UNMATCHED FOR YEAR!
1 State Championship
3 Division Championships
Arguably playing one of the toughest schedules in the state year after year.
5 year record including Covid year: 97 – 32. 75%
8 Division 1 players (Lauren Lithgow, Makayla Andrews, Brynn Farrell, Abby Antognoli, Layla Laws, Maureen Stapleton, Maggie Cavanaugh, Rosie Sognamiglio)
9 Division 2 or 3 players
4 1000 pt scorers(Makayla Andrews, Brynn Farrell, Abby Antognoli, Rosie Scognamiglio)
In the end Coach Mary Beth Chambers 5 year run may be the best in St. Rose history and she did so when needing to rebuild the reputation and culture of a school. More importantly St. Rose losing Coach Chambers is a major blow to the school and now they must find a replacement . This will be easily more said than done. Coach Chambers was heavily tied into the AAU world. She had a proven track record long before arriving and known for getting her players to play above their talent level. Something very important because St. Rose rarely gets the best 8th graders in the shore. Those kids in most cases attend SJV, RBC and now Trinity Hall. Mary Beth Chambers reputation among college coaches was impeccable. She was a coach whose word mattered and carried real weight among college coaches. They were few if any coaches that did not watch her teams simply because she was the coach. When you talk about coaches with this type of reputation, its starts with Joe Montano, Dawn Karpell and Jeff Jasper of Pascak Valley and then everyone else get in line. Mary Beth Chambers is on the short list of most respected coaches and that is fact not talk. Replacing this recruiting tool, that is so important to attracting top players can not be easily dismissed. Know this, her replacement will be the biggest hire and most important athletic decision in my opinion in the schools recent history. While boys basketball is big in the Shore, it does not carry the prestige of girls basketball in the State of New Jersey or on a national level, girls basketball in the Shore is an entire different animal. St. Rose could fall behind for years and float into the abyss with the wrong decision and that folks is not talk but truth. Mary Beth Chambers brought a program back from the dark side and restored the pride and tradition of a school. The next coach must continue this journey if St. Rose wants to remain among the elite.
So what does St. Rose need in its next coach
1. They must hire a coach who can recruit talent. Yes recruit, because now this is legal
2. The coach must be tied into the AAU world and know the best young players in the area
3. The next coach must be a disciplinarian but not heavy handed. This is a must due to the current makeup of the current St. Rose roster.
4. The coach must be experienced and has coached at some level successful
5. The players opinion on their hire should not matter, only what is best for the program long team. THIS IS A MASSIVE HIRE
6. They must hire a coach with a presence, that all in the shore community respect…St. Rose got only one freshman this past season that will play varsity.
7. They must hire a coach who knows the Shore Conference landscape.
When Lisa Kukoda took over Manasquan the school and coaches had lost total control of the program. Players where running the show, parents were making demands. Everyone wanted “new” coach Kukoda to come in with a strong hand, lay the hammer down. Let everyone know there was new sheriff in town. Instead she was fair and firm at the same time and the rest is history. St. Rose is not in that situation but they be wise to hire a coach who above all holds all the kids accountable and focus on building a program and not a team. There is a major difference and St. Rose would be wise to learn the difference now.
HERE ARE THE 7 CANDIDATES I WOULD SEEK… I HAVE NO IDEA IF ANY HAVE A INTEREST AND HAVE ZERO INSIDE INFORMATION
1. PATTI MAYBREY– Nobody would bring more name recognition and credibility to St. Rose and nobody would bring more knowledge to the table about the shore conference. She is not just an excellent coach, but rather a master coach and teacher. She has coached at every level and players will certainly want to play for her. There is absolutely no candidate that will bring to the table the things Patti Maybrey can and will. Not only does she bring herself, bank on her putting together the most knowledgable staff in the shore by a country mile. Will she has an interest? I have no idea, but St. Rose would be wise to make a call regardless if she applies or not. This is the home run hire that keeps St. Rose relevant and allows them to compete with SJV, RBC, Manasquan and upstart Trinity Hall. NOBODY CAN SERIOUSLY BE CONSIDERED A STRONGER CANDIDATE, if she had an interest in the job .. this is what you call a dream hire.
2. JOHN TURHAN– There is no question the Bill Parcells of high school basketball would be the type of hire that would set the Shore Conference and state on fire. If he has an interest can you really say “no” to him. Turhan loves to rebuild and takes programs to another level. He is well liked and deeply rooted in the AAU and the Shore Conference. There is nothing her has not accomplished as a head coach, folks this man beat RBC in the SCT on the road with a RBR team in year two. The number of kids that would follow him no doubt would be the fear into every program in the shore…no exceptions. He has coached mega stars and turned nobody’s into rock stars. Can you picture John Turhan at a program on even ground or equal talent, something he has never experienced. St. Rose could provide that platform for him He is the total package, he has won a SCT Title, been to the TOC, won Multiple state titles all every school he has coached at and none where brand names before he arrived . All his kids move on to D1 and college because he develops talent like no other. The is a hire that would shake the Shore to its core… but would he seriously have an interest? First he is a math teacher, next the money and finally, do you really think RBR is going to just let him walk? Not likely. But I certainly would call and ask, the worse he can say is no thanks… who knows maybe is ready for another challenge and at worse willing to at least listen.
3. JIMMY OSTASZEAKI – This is another candidate that would check all the boxes. He was a highly successful high school coach. He currently coaches the United AAU u17 team. Every college coach on the east coast knows his name and respects him. He is one of the best X and O’s coaches around. He also is a master at developing teams and players. Here is the thing most do not know, he lives 6 blocks from St. Rose and is retired. He also will bring a soft discipline style and make sure players are more concerned with the team and not personal accomplishments. This is the closest thing St. Rose will get to a Joe Montano type , he will bring in good kids and continue Coach Chambers reputation for playing top competition. He also brings something very important to the table. He has a great relationship with all AAU programs, he has created no bad blood, jealously with fellow AAU coaches that could play into players wanting to attend St. Rose. This would be a hire that would surprise all because most have no idea he is a Shore Guy.
4. CHRISSY HATFIELD – She is currently the interim Coach. She is getting a big push from Coach Chambers and Boys Coach Brian Lynch and that may be put her over the top. She has a asst coach under one of the best basketball minds in high school basketball, Joe Whalen. Then remained on staff when Coach Chambers was hired. She is the St. Rose grammar school coach and the current players are all in her corner to be the next coach. Hatfield is a Joe Whalen disciple and has seen major winning during her time at St. Rose. She won a SCT title along with Whalen while being the last shore team to beat SJV. She has learned how to not only develop a team but players as well. She brought these well learned skills sets to Coach Chambers who benefited nicely from it over the past 5 years. Her ability to communicate with players and her basketball X and O background from the Whalen years are priceless. She has seen all the up and downs over the past 10 years at St. Rose and has been part of the most successful St. Rose teams in recent years. She is the clear clubhouse leader for the job if St. Rose chooses to stay the course.
5. BOB DUBINA– Nobody on this list can match his resume. He has been a head coach at the high school level, he has coached at the D1 level. Her was an Asst coach at St. Rose under Mary Beth Chambers. He is part of the most powerful AAU team in the area the Shoreshots. Heris tied to every single Top 6th, 7th and 8th grader. Now the question is, does he have an interest, my guess is yes. He is an excellent X and O coach and would demand all the players on the roster fall in line. He knows every college coach in the country. It was he who recruited St. Rose star Ellyn Stoll to NJIT when nobody wanted her and she went on to become the D1 schools 4th all time leading scorer. He has played almost ever roll from AD, Head coach and asst coach. Nobody on this list is more tied to the Shore. On paper this is the one candidate that no resume can match.
6. ALI NAPOLITANO- In hind sight St. Rose may have make a big mistake not hiring after Joe Roman resigned based on how things played out. Ali is an excellent teacher and coach. She is a true communicater and more importantly tied to the NJ RISE TEAM. A team with some of the best 4th-6th graders around. Meaning she could be the key to keeping St. Rose relevant in coming years. Ali is a proven coach and known for her ability to get teams to play team basketball, something St. Rose will need in the coming years. Her daughter is one of the All Time leading three point shooters in the Schools history. Napolitano is well liked by all and is knowledgeable about Shore basketball… She would be an excellent hire and a person that could keep St. Rose playing with the big dogs.
7. JERRY BURNO– This is a dark horse if he has an interest. He was the head Coach at Donovan Catholic and built an Ocean County powerhouse. But he could never get over the hump because Ocean doesn’t have the talent or year round basketball players like are found in Monmouth County. St. Rose could attract that type of player and that may interest him in returning. He is a true tactician and game coach. His teams were always known for playing hard. He is also may be ability to convince Top players to attend St. Rose. This one is a long shot. But worth a call and to pick his mind regardless if he wants to job or not.
There certainly are lot of candidates and I’m sure many I don’t know about that St. Rose loves and has plans for. These are just the names I feel would be excellent hires and certainly worth interviewing if they have an interest. I just know this has all the making as an elite job in New Jersey. But remember this statement, buys beware this is not an easy job and the expectations are high and the current climate makes this job very difficult and who knows if the administration still wants to roll with the big dogs. THIS IS THE 5TH ST ROSE HEAD COACH IN 10 YEARS . Not exactly what any kid or school likes to see. We all know administrations build winning programs. This hire will have an impact on St. Rose for the next 10-15 years and that not talk but a fact. Take it from someone who knows the landscape and best kids in the area…. CONGRATS TO MARY BETH CHAMBER AND GOOD LUCK TO THE ST. ROSE ADMINISTRATION