Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Talking with Shanan Rosenberg, Foothill College basketball coach
First, a little background.
All was definitely not a bouquet of roses when Rosenberg assumed the head coach position at Foothill. In fact, the basketball program was at it's nadir, sorely in need of a fresh start after receiving the death penalty for a year.
Prior to arriving at Los Altos Hills, Rosenberg was part of the ultra successful coaching staff of Mike Legarza's at nearby Cañada College. He also worked under Prescott Smith (Chico St.) and former USF Coach Bob Gaillard at Lewis & Clark in Portland, a program that won their conference and participated in the national tournament all three years Rosenberg worked there.
The results to date of Rosenberg's tenure: nine years later, Foothill hoops has played its way into in seven state championship tournaments -- this despite not exactly residing in a zip code that churns out hoops prospects. Last season, the Owls finished 23-8 overall, culminating in an appearance in the Elite Eight in the state championship series.
Capping that rise, Rosenberg remembers an old-timer at the state tournament this past season telling him "this is the furthest I've ever seen a Foothill team go."
So why did he decide to take on such a difficult task even if such was a homecoming of sorts?
"I saw Foothill College as a fantastic place to work. I love it here," Rosenberg said."
And it doesn't appear he's desirous of a loftier location.
"There's a big misconception about professional mobility (the idea of always wanting to move up)," he said. "Most Community College coaches are hired as faculty and often have rich backgrounds and credentials in education. Whereas, athletic-scholarship universities for example seldom require their coaches to teach in a Kinesiology department. I love to teach, in the gym and classroom, and help kids reach their potential and Foothill allows me to do that. You don't have as much freedom in D-1 because the job demands, values and lifestyles can be quite different – you have to win."
He then added, "But nobody puts more pressure on us to succeed than I do."
Rosenberg credits many for the Foothill transformation. "We've been able to establish a program culture I am very proud of, mostly due to sacrifices and commitments of our past players. I have always tried to establish a solid local recruiting base first, as these kids are the life-blood of our program."
In the Santa Clara Valley and even extending outward, Rosenberg is the most successful community college coach at landing West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) guys. A graduate of St. Francis in Mountain View, he has two players from St. Francis (Shawn Grant, Kyle Hypes), one from Serra (Jordan Reudy) and another from Bellarmine (Freddy Eberheardt) on his current roster.
"But I love the public schools kids too," Rosenberg said with a chuckle. And indeed, two players from Westmont High (James Weimer, Ben Neves) and one from Willow Glen (Jimmy Renneke) are members of the Owl basketball squad, as are a pair of players from Marshall High (Bill Collier, Teandre Hubbard) in San Francisco..
Yes, there also are a few unfamiliar names present.
"I haven't actively sought out out-of-area players," Rosenberg explained. "There are recruiting-contact rules and other hurdles that make out-of-area recruiting difficult – particularly for us. There's no apartments within a couple of miles of campus -- remember, this is Los Altos Hills. It would be a struggle financially to live here compared to some of the other cities around the state."
He added, "Our success and reputation have helped with all of our recruiting, and our beautiful campus/location and our outstanding faculty/programs are all assets. Regarding out-of-are players, usually it's someone who knew an ex-player or was aware of what Foothill has to offer. Sometimes, maybe a guy who wanted to come to California to get away from a bad situation. We've had some guys from out-of-state but they have had significant family assistance."
Rosenberg continued, "There's definitely a lot of toil that goes into recruiting and I'm fortunate to have three eager members on my staff in [Associate Head Coach] Matt Stanley, [Assistant Coach] Larry Lumpkins and [Assistant Coach] Jimmy Herrera. I was also very fortunate to learn from some great recruiting mentors.”
His recruiting truth?
"Identify early and find kids that fit our program in terms of talent/skill, academic values and character -- after you do this enough, you know what you're looking for," Rosenberg offered, adding "never travel in twos (have each coach go to a different high school game) and establish a reputation because credibility is valuable. We want to be known as a program that develops student-athletes and quality young men, a program that wins, and creates opportunities for players to reach their potential and transfer. Overall, we try to recruit with integrity and keep the best interests of the kids in mind."
As for what community colleges have to offer, he said, "We're a wonderful system for variety of populations – unparalleled access and supported opportunity in higher education makes our community college system a national educational treasure. No SAT scores or high school transcripts are needed. You get an A.A. degree or vocational certificate and you are able to move on whether it be continue academic pursuits or enter the work force."
What's not to like?