Interview with Rocky Parise, Elizabethtown HS

ed note: introduces Rocky Parise, head coach at Elizabethtown HS. I've known Rocky since his very successful days at Etown College. He is always willing to share his thoughts on hoops (and other subjects) via his twitter handle (@rockyparise). Enjoy.

1) Can you give followers a brief background of your playing days and coaching days?

Sure! I played my high school basketball at Bishop McDevitt from '94-'98 where I lettered for 4 years. I then attended Elizabethtown College where I lettered for 4 years and was the captain of the 2002 team which finished 2nd in the Country. I hold the record at Etown for most assists in a game, season and 2nd on the career assists list.

My coaching experience over the past 12 years has been over many age levels. Anywhere from running the Elizabethtown Iddy Biddy Program for 4-6 year olds, to coaching an 8th grade AAU team, to running the Junior High Program at Elizabethtown, to being an Assistant at Elizabethtown High School and Elizabethtown College. I feel that coaching this wide range of ages has given me an interesting skill set of dealing with many people and situations.


2) What challenges do you face both on the short term and long term at Etown?

I'm not sure that "challenge" is the right term. We have a lot of opportunities to build on the solid foundation that Coach Dolan laid for us over his 9 years. I think our most pressing need is to consistently get our players in the gym and in the weight room in the off-season. This summer we have had great numbers, but we need to continue to build on this commitment to get better and engage our players.

In the long term, I have already made some changes in our youth program. I feel we need to focus a lot of our energy at those levels to engage and energize them, and get them excited about being a part of our program.
My goal for every player and parent in our program, from the youth program and up, is to have a connection with us and to KNOW they are a part of our program. If we can do that, good things will follow.


3) What are your thoughts on the LL going to 3 Sections?

I think it makes more sense from a scheduling standpoint. I always enjoyed playing the Section 1 Schools in the past so I will miss that. However, there are some great programs coming up from Section 3 to join us this year, so I think the depth and competitiveness in our Section will be better than ever.

4) How was your summer at Etown HS?

We had a great summer! I'm very happy with our improvement individually and as a team. My goal was to bring in some new ideas to keep players engaged throughout the spring/summer. They responded very well to that. Thinking about our team in May when we struggled at the Bartholomew Shootout to having a successful team camp at Alvernia, makes me realize we accomplished a lot this summer.


5) What has been your biggest adjustment going from an assistant to the head coach?

Honestly, I have been preparing for this for a long time. I ran the Junior High Program for 2 years and ran an AAU team for 4 years, so I feel more comfortable in the Head Coach role. It fits my personality. I know it's not going to be easy and there are going to be a lot of issues to deal with, but I'm ready for it. The fact that I have built solid relationships in the Elizabethtown School District throughout my 7 years of coaching here has helped as well. So in all, I have not really had an adjustment.

Bonus....You have played in the Mid Penn, at Etown college, coached various levels...basically have seen a lot of hoops in one way or another...What do you see as the biggest changes in the HS game from the time you played until now?

I think the obvious answer is AAU basketball, but I don't to get into that argument! I had a very positive experience in my 4 years of AAU basketball, albeit at a younger age level. There are a lot of good things about AAU and a lot of bad things. However, coaching in that environment really helped me develop as a coach. I would highly recommend to any young coaches out there to get involved in AAU and coach it the right way. It would benefit you and the kids you are coaching!

To answer the question though, I think technology has helped coaches and players dramatically since I played. From the research you can do strategically as a coach, to the research you can do for drills/workout regimens as a player, the amount of information at your fingertips is amazing.


~Dell Jackson

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