If you coach long enough, you learn a few things along the way. You also discover a few things during your coaching journey. Every coach or trainer spends their career hoping to coach that perfect player that fits your personality and matches your passion. That player you learn may never come your way. It’s part of the deal when you get into this business, there are no promises. If you happen to find that player you are blessed. I am one of the rare ones. I got that chance, that blessing, because I waited my entire career for Justine Pissott to come along. It was she that I have been waiting for and searching for all these years. I knew that search ended the day I met her and the Pissott family. For this I am forever grateful.
I am passionate about this game. In fact I know, I can be a bit much at times. The kids who come though my program know this. By the time they are seniors, they’ve usually had enough of me . Justine Pissott never seems to care about the craziness I bring to her doorstep everyday . She seems to embrace it and it’s why I love her so much. It’s easy to brag and talk about what you do for kids. It’s easy to take a bow when a kid does something like commits to the most renowned basketball program in the country. But what we never do is acknowledge what a kid does for you as a coach or trainer, Justine Pissott turned up my passion for coaching. When I was losing faith in kids not just as basketball players but people as well. I grew tired of throwing people and kids out of NBS. I grew tired of the letters and jealousy that surrounds youth sports, I was fed up. I just wanted to coach a few hungry kids. A few kids who just wanted to be great at something. Justine Pissott gave this to me. She gave it all to me. She never, not once in all my years working together, ever took a shortcut. The harder the road the more she dug in. Her passion and commitment, I doubt I will ever see again. No kid has ever been more reliable and worked as hard. She also did things, few kids are willing to do. She allowed me to park her ego and yet not allow her to makes excuses as I made 100’s along the way. Justine Pissott was my blessing…my gift from god.
I’ve known Justine since 2nd grade. Back when she came in the gym and said exactly zero words. She was known as “socks” back then. Her twin sister Gia did all the talking. Gia, is brilliant beyond her years. She will attend the Naval Academy. They both were workers even when little. Justine as early as that age had a competitive streak that unless you were around you wouldn’t understand. I just know this, ask me how we started working together? I can tell you the answer, I have no idea. I just know that the best part of my day was seeing her walk into the gym. When she walked into the gym. I knew it was going to be a heavyweight fight for two hours. I knew we both had one thing in common . We didn’t understand there was another life outside the gym for 2-4 hours everyday. I think it’s because of one word… TRUST. You see I trust Justine’s right down to the very core of my soul. When her father Jim said he hoped she will pick the right school. I told him “Jim, I always worry about that with other kids, BUT NOT WITH JUSTINE”. I knew Justine would make the right choice. It’s why we never had one recruiting conversation, except for me to tell her to keep her recruiting private and off social media. I told her when she signs, that would be bragging day. She trusted me and I trusted her. I got her back and her family ALWAYS has mine. They protect me and defend me at every turn.
When I walk into NBS and I don’t see Justine Pissott in the gym. The wind goes out of my sails. That’s because I know I don’t get a chance to watch perfection in every way. I have watched her grow physically from a little girl into a 6’4” thing of beauty. She has the looks of a fashion model. She doesn’t just walk, she struts into the gym with such grace and class for such a young girl. She has the personality of a talk show host and the game of a true superstar. So without her in the gym I feel like something is missing. Justine Pissott makes me want to coach. She makes me want to be better. It is she who has taught me it’s okay to be tough, but you also gotta give a little love too. When am cranky or too hard on a kid. It’s her telling me to back down. But it’s funny in all our years, she never said I was too hard her on her. It’s why I know I am blessed that she came to me.
Today you are not supposed to yell at talented players. You have to be careful how you talk to them. Justine gave me belief that you can still coach kids hard and hold them accountable. You can still help that kid whose dream is dying( what a god awful thing for any kid). I am hard on Justine, yet she never blinks an eye. Even when I am wrong and she knows I am wrong. I don’t have to apologize, because I know she loves me. She allows me to keep my ego, pride or whatever you call it, while allowing me to make mistakes. You see, you don’t get kids like this, it’s why am so blessed, this angel of basketball has stepped into my life.
Jim Pissott and his Josephine are exactly my type of people. We think very much the same way. I believe we have the same value and moral code. Mrs Pissott is a teacher. Jim is a former Police Lt and Detective. They both believe in holding kids responsible. They believe a kid should work hard at anything they do. They believe in accountability, they don’t believe everything has to be a cakewalk. They still believe a kid can wash dishes and make there own bed.. including that one in life. It’s why I think of them as friends not parents. I talk to Jim Pissott every single day. He was the one who caught me when I passed out in the bleachers. He may have saved my life. He was the one who convinced me to go to the hospital. He drove me to the hospital and convinced me to eat. He was the one who called my wife. When I say Justine has done for me more than I can every do for her… I MEANT THAT. Because without her, there is no Jim Pissott there to catch me last week🙏
When Justine Pissott left for the Philly Belles. Many accused me of telling her to leave the Shoreshots. Some friends were upset and thought I was behind the magic curtain. Just like in her recruiting for college, I never said a word. Except once, I told her you have given yourself to everyone. It’s time you do what you want. Just know I love you. You see JustIne needed to let her wings fly. She needed to grow and the Belles helped her experience something different. More importantly she found out that her bond with the Shoreshots was unbreakable. Just like our relationship.
“I will leave you with a conversation I had with my wife one night. I told her “I’ve been waiting for Justine my entire life” . She said “I know, everyone knows. The tone in your voice when you talk about her. The way you get so happy around her and so angry when anyone questions her.” My wife is dead on the money and I am not afraid to admit it…I’M ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES … I’m truly BLESSED and SOCKS I will Always LOVE YOU LIKE A DAUGHTER.