Interview with Rocky Parise, Elizabethtown HS

Written by: on Thursday, July 13th, 2017


ed note: re-introduces Rocky Parise..Rocky is currently in his second year with Etown HS.. LLhoops thought it might be interesting to get some insights to how a coach deals with his/her summer program.


1) How do you plan out your summer hoops schedule?

Being at a school like E-Town, the first thing I do is contact the football coach to make sure our schedules don’t conflict too much. The second thing I do is to talk to our players’ AAU coaches to see if I can work around their schedules as well.  This is the world we live in today, and, to be stubborn and not work around conflicts would hurt our team and our players.   

After I figure out which days work best, I schedule our weight lifting, open gyms, workouts, summer league, and team camp.  As a novice head coach, I have learned that the quicker I get things scheduled, the more likely we are to have good attendance. 

This has all been trial and error for me as we never really had a set off-season workout regimen before.  However, I’m starting to see what works and what doesn’t work, which just comes with experience.  

2) Do your players play AAU?

I have been trying to get our players involved more and more with AAU.  I want to make sure they are with the right program and a coach who will help them.  We have had very positive results so far with Larry Locker playing for someone I respect a ton in Doug Kraft.  I also placed a very talented incoming Freshman we have, Luke Pierson, with a close friend of mine and former Lower Dauphin Head Coach, Mark Hofsass.  I have tried to get our younger players involved as well, but a lot of them have been reluctant due to playing a spring sport, which I completely understand. 

I embrace the AAU movement and people need to understand that playing an extra season of basketball puts those guys so far ahead of the competition, that they are ready to play High School basketball at a much earlier age than in the past.  The High School teams that have the most players, who play AAU, are usually the best, that’s just a reality. 

3) What is the balance between workouts and playing games?

This is something I am very passionate about.  In the past, we have had players who can’t make it to any open gyms, weightlifting or workouts, but their schedule is magically clear for summer league.  It’s very frustrating.  I would rather see a player, if he can only make 1 night per week, go to an open gym.  The reason?  In a game, he will spend 30 min driving to the game, 1 hour at the game and 30 min driving home.  In that 2-hour time, he will have taken MAYBE 5 shots and played 20 minutes of basketball.  Compare that to an open gym where they are getting at least 100 shots, working on skills and playing for a full 2 hours.  It’s not complicated to figure out. 

I do feel you need all 3 to become a better player and a better team: Weights/Open Gyms/Summer League.  The players who also believe in that philosophy have improved immensely over the past 3 months and have overtaken the kids who rarely show up.  It’s been a good life lesson for our players…the harder you work the better you are.  Not very complicated.


4) What do you think is most important aspect of player development in the off-season?

There is no 1 important aspect.  It’s the combination of the 3 I stated above:  Weights/Open Gyms/Summer League.  As a new Head Coach last year taking over a program that never had a weight lifting program, that was my main focus.  I had to figure that all out and get that moving.  So if you asked me last year, weight lifting was a main focus.   

However, this year it’s just the buy in.  We have had really good, talented players buy in to working hard and getting better for the sake of the team/program.  There are some that are on the fence, and I feel that those guys need to decide if they are in or out, because we are moving along regardless.   

After a tough year last year, for a group of guys to work hard for 2 to 3 months and see the results by having success in the Spooky Nook Summer League was really cool to see.  Bigger programs and schools that are successful year in and year out don’t have to worry about wins in the off season…but we do.  Going 7-1 in the Nook League was huge for our program and our kids and it meant a lot to us.  Hopefully we can carry that confidence over into the season. 

Bonus: How do you balance hoops, work and family during the summer? 🙂

It’s really difficult. I’m not going to lie.  You can email Ang(my wife) and that could be an entirely separate interview!  However it is a little easier as a Head Coach, because I coordinate with her first before I even call the football or AAU coaches!  As an assistant, you are kind of at the mercy of the schedule.  I have had to leave family vacation 3 days early 2 years in a row now for team camp.  That’s difficult but everyone is very supportive.  I know it’s a good example of work ethic for my sons Ryan and Dylan, who are involved in all aspects of that, but hopefully it’s a good example to our players that you have to sacrifice fun sometimes to achieve your goals. 

Work is business as usual during the summer.  All of our workouts are either at night or early in the morning, so it never overlaps with my job.  I’m blessed to work for such a great. local, community oriented company in Donegal Insurance, that encourages me and empowers me to be a leader in our community and make a difference in our student athletes.



 ~ Dell Jackson


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