The biggest story of the spring, has to be the retirement of Sir George Sourlis as the Head Coach of Rumson Fair Heaven. Two years ago Hall of Fame Coach Vanessa Watson of Shabazz said goodbye to girls’ basketball. New Jersey is running out of true giants. Joe Montano of RBC and Jeff Jasper of Pasack Valley are now on an island by themselves. They is no question that whoever replaces George Sourlis will inherit one of the real power house programs in New Jersey. When you think of girls basketball in New Jersey there are 4 names that come right to mind. RBC, Shabazz, SJV and RFH. Shabazz while has had solid years since the retirement of Watson. There are clearly no longer the powerhouse they once were. Rumson’s future could very well depend who they hire as there next coach?
The Rumson girls’ basketball team has been the face of RFH sports for years. The Football and boys basketball team have clearly had their moments. Two years ago the men’s team basketball team won a SCT title and with Charlie Volker running, the football team was a real feel good story. But it’s been George Sourlis and his girls’ basketball team that has been the measuring stick over the years. Now RFH will need to try continue what he started. But there are real questions about what RFH should look for in a new coach. So here are a few questions.
WHAT SHOULD THE RFH LOOK FOR IN A NEW COACH? I feel RFH must get a coach with a strong personality and a proven track record at some level of high school basketball. I do not believe RFH should act a training ground. This is elite program and should be able to attract quality candidates. The new coach at RFH must be somebody with a real presence the moment they walk in the gym to meet the parents and players. This next coach will need to be somebody that that players and parents know is in charge. He must be somebody that can take control from day one a send a real message to EVERYONE THAT THIS IS HIS PROGRAM.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE NEW COACH? Next year will be the least talented team on paper for RFH in 8 years. This should lower the expectations for any coach who is hired. But there is enough talent, that RFH should at least make another run at a state title. They also should expect to still be one of the Top ten teams in the shore and ranked in the Top 20. The new coach should be given time to put his stamp on the program, while still having a winning season. But most importantly the next coach must be expected to run a classy program, in the same light has George Sourlis did.
WHAT SHOULD THE PHILOSPHY OF THE NEW COACH LOOK LIKE? RFH has always been a defensive team first under George Sourlis. the identity of the program has been defense from day George Sourlis was hire. But I believe the next coach should bring their own style and philosophy to the program. I believe whoever the coach is; should bring a new fresh approach to RFH. It’s a new era and that should be the approach of the new coach…New era and New fresh ideas.
ARE THEY CANIDIATES FROM THE GEORGE SOURLIS COACHING TREE? Yes there are plenty of candidates from the Sourlis tree. Now the question is do they want the job and most importantly does RFH want to move in a new direction or continue the Sourlis philosophy. It’s a decision that would not be easy for any AD. The success of the RFH program speaks for itself. But there are always times when change is good. This is a big decision for the RFH administration and athletic director.
WHAT THE STRENGTHS OF THE RFH JOB? There are few traditions like that of RFH basketball. Sir George Sourlis has built the Roman Empire. College coaches flock to games, they play in the biggest tournaments, ranked in the Top Ten in every year and win state titles. Most importantly have the name recognition that will always attract players. There is no need to recruit at RFH; the best players will call whoever the coach that is hired. There is mega talent still on the roster. Tori Hyduke will be one of the best players in all of New Jersey next year. Hannah Scanlon is a future D1 player. Katie Foos is one of the best shooters in the state. Starter Megan Volker returns as well. This team is stacked with talent. George Sourlis best years was when he played the underdog role and this group just may be able to slip under the radar and have a special season.
WHAT ARE THE WEAKNESS OF THE RFH JOB? There is no freshman program or for that matter a solid JV program in place. They young elite talent at RFH is nowhere to be found. Next many of the best players in RFH history did not grow up in the town. They transferred into town. But the backbone of the teams were always the local kids who filled out the roster. There is no mega talented players moving into town and virtually no young elite talent in the program right now. The JV team was made up of 5 players last season. These are issues whoever the new coach, will need to deal with from day one. Two of the best 7th and 8th graders in the state right now are not planning on attending RFH and they are kids from town. A new coach would be wise to run a camp and get to know these talented kids and maybe change their minds. Finally and maybe most importantly the next coach must build a relationship with the RFH parents. The next coach must change the perception of the coach/parents relationship at RFH. This will surely encourage more kids to be part of the program.
HOW MUCH PRESSURE WILL THE NEXT COACH HAVE? Folks RFH has every senior on the roster moving on to college. Four seniors received a D1 scholarships. They were ranked top 5 in the state. Top 3 in the Shore. Played in the Group 2 title and won twenty games again. Yet many felt the season was disappointing. The bar that George Sourlis has set is flat out impossible to reach, I don’t care who is the next coach is. There will be pressure but I believe the pressure will be based on what the new coach expects from themselves. Nobody in their right mind expects the new coach to live up to the stardards set by George Sourlis. Anytime you replace a legend they will be some pressure.
MY THOUGHTS ON WHO RFH SHOULD HIRE…
I believe the RFH athletic director should take his time at every step. I believe the next coach should be somebody who understands the RFH community and has real understanding of Shore girls’ basketball. The shore is easily the best girl’s conference in the state and the country. The talent is deep and the competitive nature of the coaches and players is something you must have a real understanding of. I do not believe RFH is just another high school job. It is one of the real plum jobs in high school basketball boys or girls. I believe a seasoned coach with a real history of success who has energy would be the direction I would go…but finding that coach may not be easy. They RFH must pull of what St. Rose and Manasquan did. Make amazing hire’s for their programs like Joe Whalen and Lisa Kukoda. Most people knew little about both when then were hired. RFH will need to do the same if they wish to stay among the elite. But here is something for you to let marinate, the last time RFH hired a basketball coach, it worked out pretty darn good…they hired some guy that goes by the name Shempy!