Ex-Rogers basketball coach Psaras staying in the game during coronavirus pandemic
By Bill Koch
Journal Sports Writer
Posted Apr 27, 2020 at 5:00 PM
“We need to get back in the gym.”
If you’ve spent even a few minutes around a basketball coach at any level, this is the answer to most of life’s problems.
Missing free throws? Back in the gym. Sloppy offensive execution? Back in the gym. Team chemistry issues? Back in the gym.
What happens when that solution is no longer viable? The coronavirus pandemic has made social distancing the rule. High school buildings are closed and college students are off-campus with no immediate plans to return.
Creative minds like Bob Walsh and Jim Psaras are looking to fill the gap. Walsh works as the associate director of player development, scouting and recruiting coordination under Ed Cooley at Providence College. Psaras won more than 400 games and three championships with the boys at Rogers High. They’ve turned to Zoom calls in an attempt to remain sharp and connect fellow coaches with one another.
“Physically, we can’t be in the same space right now, so a lot of it becomes mental,” Walsh said. “A lot of it is coaches trying to find creative ways to stay connected to their teams and make them better when it’s not, ‘OK, let’s go shoot 250 3s.’ ”
“I’m trying to provide bridges for coaches to learn,” Psaras said. “We’re talking any experience level. I’ve been in coaching 35 years, and I’m talking to guys who have been in coaching for as long as I have and more.”
Walsh previously served as a head coach at Rhode Island College and the University of Maine, but he’s also maintained a public presence in a different arena. His blog at coachbobwalsh.com hits on an array of basketball topics and his Dynamic Leadership Academy involves presentations from coaches, athletics directors and business executives.
Walsh has used that outlet to raise more than $2,000 for coronavirus relief. He’s been contacted by several teams — Gettysburg College, Bard College and The Hill School — over the last two weeks about speaking with their respective teams. His lone requirement is a donation to a charity of their choice.
“The challenge now is I’ve got to find ways to stay connected and get better when I’m sitting in my bedroom at home,” Walsh said. “I’ve found the majority of the kids or the teams that I’ve worked with — the groups that I’ve worked with — to be very engaged.”
Psaras announced his retirement from the Vikings in 2014 but hasn’t left the game behind. He’s leaning on 12 years of service as a counselor with the famed Five-Star Basketball summer camp to build a star-studded lineup. New York natives Will Klein and Howard Garfinkel founded what became a basketball institution in 1966.
Hubie Brown, Bob Knight, Rick Pitino, John Calipari and the late Chuck Daly are among the coaches who have taken a turn manning the drill stations or starting their careers with Five-Star. Former attendees include future NBA stars like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Patrick Ewing and Stephen Curry. Psaras also recalls an initial visit by Bob Hurley Sr. after winning the first two of his 26 New Jersey state championships with Catholic power St. Anthony.
“I’ve been trying to mentor my former players or my former assistants who are at middle schools or high schools coaching,” Psaras said. “Even the Rhode Island Basketball Coaches Association — I’ve been reaching out to them to try to mentor. Not that I have all the answers but I want to be able to help out.”
Walsh and Psaras were in contact Wednesday and are likely to combine forces in the near future. One coach who remains in the game and one who has never strayed far from it share a common goal.
“It’s turned out to be fun and helps me stay sharp,” Walsh said. “We’re trying to help people who could use the help a little bit, too.”
“There’s a lot that I miss about coaching,” Psaras said. “There are some things that go along with it that I could do without. But there’s that missing of connecting with kids and building relationships.”
NEWPORT DAILY NEWS 1-25-2012
Newport Daily News
Rogers boys basketball coach Jim Psaras notched his 400th career victory on Tuesday as the Vikings beat Central Falls 71-37
Newport Daily News 01/25/2012
BOYS BASKETBALL: ROGERS 71, CENTRAL FALLS 37 Vikings coach reaches milestone Jim Psaras, who has been with the program since 1988, collects his 400th career victory By Josh Krueger Daily News staff CENTRAL FALLS — As has been the case with so many of his game plans over the years, this one worked rather well. This strategic move by Jim Psaras, though, didn’t have anything to do with offense or defense, the transition game or matchups. Keeping a bit of information from his players, he felt, was the best way to make sure it was not a distraction. So when the Rogers High School boys basketball players took the court Monday night against Central Falls, they had no idea what it meant to their coach. Near the end of the Vikings’ 71-37 romp, though, they figured it out. With 30 seconds left in the game, chants of “400! 400!” from the Rogers faithful who made the trip clued in the players as to the significance of their most recent victory. It was No. 400 in Psaras’ coaching career. “It tells me I’ve been here a long time,” Psaras said of the milestone. “I’ve been around a lot of kids and been lucky enough to coach a lot of great kids and good players.” His 400th victory was all but wrapped up by halftime, when Rogers led 36-14. The Vikings started slowly, but after Central Falls took an early 4-0 lead, Rogers went on an 18-0 run and the Warriors didn’t come close to denying Psaras. “He’s a great coach and to be part of that milestone for him is a nice feeling,” said Rogers senior Trevor Morgera, who had 14 points and six rebounds in the win. “I had no idea until they started chanting, ‘400.’ That’s more games than I could ever imagine playing in, seeing or coaching. It’s ridiculous. It’s a great accomplishment.” But it was one Psaras — who gave credit to his assistant coaches for the part they played in reaching the milestone — didn’t want to make a big deal of, especially before it happened. Before the season started, with the win total at 388, he and assistant Mike Newsome talked about how to handle the upcoming achievement. “We didn’t want to tell the kids. Just told a couple close family members, friends and that was it,” Psaras said. “I wanted the situation to be: they’re not worrying about me, they’re just worrying about their job on the court. So it was good.” After the final buzzer, past and present Rogers players in attendance offered their congratulations with a hug and a handshake. Central Falls coach Brian Crookes did the same. “Hats off. He’s done a great job for a long time, and I respect the way his kids play,” Crookes said. “Every kid goes after it hard and that’s a reflection of him, and it’s always been that way as long as I’ve been around and known the program. “Congratulations to him. I think it’s a fantastic achievement.” Five Rogers players scored in double figures against an overmatched Central Falls team. Divon Bailey had 14 points, including a two-handed alleyoop dunk in the second half that point guard Reeyon Watts threw from beyond the 3-point line. Watts had 12 points, seven rebounds and five steals, and Cody Platt hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11. Parish Perry had six points and nine rebounds. Psaras’ first year as Rogers coach was the 1988-89 season, and in his first five years he collected three Division I state championships. In his 24 seasons leading Rogers, Psaras has posted a record of 400-209 for a .657 winning percentage. “I just wanted to get it over with,” he said of notching his 400th win in his first opportunity. “I knew at some point it was going to happen, it was just when it was going to happen. I just wanted to win the game for these guys, because it’s the first game of the second half and we wanted to start off on a good note. Central Falls is not an easy place to play.” Rogers (12-3, 9-1 Division II-East) made it seem easy. The small gym was far from packed, but the Central Falls fans who did attend seemed eager to erupt with any sign of life from their team. The Vikings made sure that sign never came. “Coach told us coming in it’s a loud gym, but it’s important when you come in on the road and quiet the gym down, because it’s easier to play as a team,” Morgera said. Picking up win No. 400 in Newport would have been preferable for Psaras, but as he put it, “You can’t control that, but it’s OK.” The chants of “400!” at the end of game made it feel a little like home. “It was great to have people here in support,” Psaras said. He’ll go for his 401st victory — and more importantly, 10th league win of the season — on Thursday night at home against Cumberland. Tuesday’s league win carries no extra weight as far as the I-I-South standings or state tournament seedings are concerned, but it was obviously a meaningful one for the Vikings. “To be able to be a part of that, I can talk for our whole team, it’s a great feeling,” Morgera said.
“He’s a great coach, great guy, we love being around him day in and day out, and to be there for 400 means a lot to us.” ‘He’s a great coach, great guy, we love being around him day in and day out, and to be there for 400 means a lot to us.’ TREVOR MORGERA Rogers senior, talking about coach Jim Psaras
Providence Journal 1-29-2012
January 29, 2012
BOYS BASKETBALL NOTES
Coach Psaras a Newport icon
By MIKE SZOSTAK JOURNAL SPORTS WRITER
Except for the fact that he lives in Middletown now, Jim Psaras is as Newport as can be. He grew up in the City by the Sea. He graduated from Rogers High School. He teaches elementary school physical education and health in Newport. He has coached basketball for 27 seasons in Newport, first at Thompson Middle School, second with the Rogers freshmen, third with the Rogers junior varsity and the last 24 with the Rogers varsity. In those 24 seasons, Psaras has won 400 games. He reached the milestone last Tuesday night at Central Falls, a 71-37 triumph, and won his 401st on Thursday at home over Cumberland, 74-47. Psaras knew that 400 would come this season. He had a veteran team that had lost to North Providence in the 2011 Division II final and to North Kingstown in the first round of the state tournament. But when it happened on Tuesday night, he was still overwhelmed. “Wow! I’ve been around a long time, I guess,” he said while recalling the postgame euphoria. “To have that many wins, you don’t realize it because one day becomes another day, one season becomes another season and one decade becomes another decade. When it happened, it was kind of surreal.” Psaras had told his family and a few close friends the milestone was imminent, but word spread quickly. “Tuesday night on the bus ride home I got texts from former players and friends and family. Wednesday I got texts, Facebook posts and calls nonstop. To me, it was just another game. I’ve been lucky to have had great players and great assistants,” he said. Psaras won state championships in 1990, 1991 and 1993. In recent years his teams have challenged but come up short in title races. The 2004 Vikings won 15 games in Division I-A. The 2005 and 2006 teams finished16-2 in the regular season in Division II. The 2007 Vikings were 14-2 and lost to Feinstein in the Division II championship game. Two 9-9 seasons and a rare losing season, 7-11, ensued before the 2011 Vikings bounced back with a 15-3 regular season finish in D-II East. His current team has the ability to make another title run. The Vikings are 10-1 in Division II, their only loss to Shea by two points, and 12-3 overall. They will visit 11-0, 13-1 West Warwick on Tuesday night. “I have a group of kids who have played together for a long time. I have the core pieces of the football team, the quarterback, the running back, the wideout. They’re been together growing up. They won the freshmen state championship, and they had tough losses as sophomores and juniors,” he said. The captains are Trevor Morgera, Divon Bailey and Reeyon Watts. They are also three of the top four scorers. Marc Washington, Cody Platt and Parrish Perry complete the rotation. “We’re balanced and capable of putting up big numbers. We’ve got a little size, speed, and athleticism, and we have kids who can shoot the ball. They’re great kids who have different challenges in their lives. We deal with it,” he added. The popular perception of Newport is that it’s a playground for the rich and famous and a warm-weather tourist magnet. That’s true, but stroll a few blocks from the manicured tennis courts of the New-port Casino and the mansions of Bellevue Avenue, or from the boutiques and restaurants of Thames Street, and you’ll find working-class neighborhoods and housing projects. You’ll find poverty and the same problems that beset urban areas. “I’ve taught at both ends of Newport,” Psaras said. “We teach life’s lessons every day. These are 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids who have to make choices. Sometimes they make mistakes, as we all do. If we can make a difference, we try to make a difference.” Psaras is an old-school coach who will bench his best players to make a point. He did it before the state tournament game against North Kingstown last season, when he disciplined two starters for violating a rule. Psaras is 48 and still loves coaching at Rogers. “Unless you’ve walked in my shoes, you don’t realize how special it is. To walk around the gym and see the banners hanging there, the balcony, the old wood floor. … I don’t do it for the pay. I do it for the passion and the love of the game.”
NEWPORT DAILY NEWS 3-15-2011
Providence Journal 3-15-2011
After 23 years, no quit for Rogers coach Psaras
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
By JOHN GILLOOLY
Journal Sports Writer
Back in March 1990, Jim Psaras was in his second year as the Rogers High boys basketball coach — a young coach whose enthusiasm was evident from his every move on the sidelines. Rogers was “playing up” those days. Even though the school’s enrollment would have allowed it to play in Division II, the Vikings were a Division I team. It was a team made up more of good athletes than year-round basketball players. It was a team that reflected its coach’s love of competition. When the season was over, Rogers was the state champion. It was the first time in 27 years Rogers had won a state basketball title at any level. Psaras coached the Vikings to another Division I state title 1991, and another in 1993, but that was the last time Rogers won a state basketball title. Psaras, however, is still there — still coaching with the same enthusiasm as he did when he was the young, unknown coach making his mark back in the early 1990s. All of which is why I found it interesting about a week ago when I saw Psaras’ quote “I’ve had better weeks,” after Rogers lost in the opening round of the all-inclusive state boys basketball tournament. Six days earlier, Rogers had lost in the title game of the Division II tournament, but the Vikings still had a berth in the state tournament. It would be another chance to finally add another piece of hardware to the Rogers trophy case. But two days after the divisional title game and two days before Rogers’ first state tourney game, Psaras suspended two starters for violating team rules. It probably wasn’t surprising the Vikings dropped an 18-point decision to North Kingstown in the first round of the state tournament. It was coach’s week from hell — two tournament losses and two player suspensions in a span of seven days. You would think after a week like that, Psaras would want to spend some time away from the basketball court. Yet there he was, two days after his team was eliminated from the state tourney, sitting on the sidelines watching other teams play in the second round of the tournament. “Why are you still doing this?” I asked Psaras about more than two decades of high school coaching. “Because I still love it,” Psaras said without hesitation. He has gone from being the hot young coach winning three state championships in his first five years to being the dean of Rhode Island high school boys basketball coaches who hasn’t won a state title in 18 years. Yet he’s still on the sidelines and hopes to be there for several more years because he loves the game and — even more importantly — believes high school coaches make a contribution that can’t be measured by state championship banners alone. “Obviously I love the game, but for me it’s also about teaching. I really enjoying working with young people, passing on knowledge that helps them make decisions about life off the court as well as in basketball,” Psaras said. “For some of these kids, I’m like a father figure and I take pride in being a good role model.” He has coached for 23 years in era where longevity is no longer a staple of high school coaching like it was in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s and even ’80s. Too many other family responsibilities. The players aren’t as focused as they used to be because there are too many outside distractions. Too much parental interference. They’re all reasons young coaches offer for leaving the sidelines after short tenures. And they all have creditability. It’s no different for Psaras. He and his wife have a young family so it’s more than just the coach making sacrifices for his coaching career. He’s coaching at a time when technology makes it easy for teenagers to think the world revolves around them, that everybody is interested in every thing they do, every minute of the day. It isn’t their entire fault. Aren’t pro athletes and entertainment superstars constantly Tweeting to their fans about their every move? Isn’t Facebook about letting people know all about your life? But the “world revolves around me” philosophy is contrary to the concept of team. “Sometimes they don’t understand how they react to situations affects others,” said Psaras. “I had a kid who had his cell phone taken away by a teacher because he had it out in class. He shouldn’t have had it out in the first place, but now he has an attitude because of what the teacher did and he brings that attitude to practice. That affects the whole team.” So through a game he tries teaching young people they are part of the world in which they live — not the center of it. It’s a problem high school coaches have had for generations, but these days it may be tougher than ever. Teenagers see the NCAA allow Ohio State football players to appear in a big bowl game before serving their suspensions for rules violations. So how can they understand why Psaras would suspend two of his stars before a tournament game? “Everybody makes mistakes, I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes,” Psaras said. “But mistakes come with consequences. I’m sure to some the suspensions seemed a little harsh, but we take pride in what we do and what we do is always in the best interest of the student.” Even if the result is a coach’s week from hell.
WONDERFUL RUN AT ROGERS
March 28, 2014
Newport Daily News
Wonderful run at Rogers
Jim Psaras leaves the program he made into a perennial winner
By Josh Krueger
NEWPORT — Jim Psaras did his best to sum up 29 years of coaching in a few pages — no easy task. Not surprisingly, he had a lot to say. One thing he didn’t need to say, though, was he did not arrive at this decision easily.
It was written all over his face.
On Thursday night in front of a small gathering of friends, family, colleagues and former players, the longtime Rogers High School boys basketball head coach officially announced his retirement from the job he’s held for the past 26 years.
“There are things about coaching here that I will miss. I’ll miss theplayers and the camaraderie with my coaches. I will miss trying to come up with strategies and game plans against the best coaches and teams. I will miss making a difference in young people’s lives,” said Psaras, reading from a prepared statement. “I will miss all that, but if I don’t coach again, I won’t feel like I didn’t finish the job. My passion for the game will always exist. I finished my job here, and the journey was a dream come true.”
Psaras finished his career at Rogers with a record of 421-245 (.632 winning percentage) and three state championships in 1990, ’91 and ’93.
He spent a year coaching the Thompson Middle School boys, one as the Rogers freshman coach and one asthe J.V. coach and assistant to varsity coach John Dias. When he took over the head job, he had lofty goals.
“When I became the coach in 198889, my goal was to coach 30 years, and my other goal was to win 10 state championships. Let’s face it, I was 23 and had no idea how difficult that would be,” Psaras said. “I was so young. I did not understand the difficulties and challenges of trying to achieve such high goals.”
While he didn’t quite reach those goals, Psaras still put together quite the impressive coaching resume.
“I watched him coach his first two years, seventh and eighth grade, and ninth grade, and the kids loved him,” Dias said. “His work ethic, he put moretime and effort into it than a lot of coaches did. He was willing to learn. He matured every year, he got more and more into it and then he got to a point where he was the best basketball coach in the state for years and years.”
Psaras won 13 coach of the year awards during his tenure, the most recent being the Division II-South Coach of the Year after the 2007-08 season. He had opportunities to coach at the next level, as his predecessor did, but decided he was content where he was.
“I was a head coach in high school, and … that’s what everybody wants to be — a head coach,” Psaras said. “I started to realize I was a head coach at a special place. This is a wonderfulplace to coach … and it was special. I had special kids, we had a special community and I was lucky to be part of it.”
The reason the Rogers boys coaching job was open for Psaras to take in 1988 was because Dias accepted an offer to be an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island. Having been down that road, Dias said Psaras made the right call staying put.
“I left here in ’88 to go to URI and coach at the college level. He hit the nail on the head. We all love being head coaches,” Dias said. “I spent three years at URI … and it was not the same as being the head coach at Rogers, or any other high school. He made a great decision.”
Stepping down was the right decision, too, no matter how difficult it may have been.
“I look forward to spending more time with my children, Julia and Will,” Psaras said before pausing to collect himself. “I look forward to further supporting my children in whatever they want to do. My love for them is what matters the most. My love for this school and this basketball program can never be taken away from me. For that I am grateful.”
While he’ll no longer be the boys basketball coach, Psaras certainly will attend Rogers games from time to time. When he does, he said it might be difficult to turn off his coaching instincts.
“I’ll probably be yelling at the officials,” Psaras said, drawing laughter from those in attendance Thursday night. “I’ll probably yell something to one of the assistants. ‘Do this. Try that.’ But I’ll be sitting next to my kids, or former players that go to the games now. It’ll be different, but at the end of the day, I can go home and not have to worry about game tape, scouting reports, what’s going on with the kids in school — if they’re absent, sick, academics. I’ll be able to enjoy watching basketball.
“It’ll be tough, but it’s going to be interesting for the first time in 29 years being able to do something during Christmas, take a February vacation, go away for a weekend — things I just haven’t been able to do.”It’ll be an adjustment for other coaches, as well, not having Psaras on the Rogers bench. “He was the dean of Rhode Island high school basketball,” said former assistant Kevin Lendrum, who now coaches the Middletown boys. “You kind of think, ‘Who’s going to be there now?’ Not that anyone who jumps in won’t do a good job, but it’s like Mike Krzyzewski leaving Duke.” Psaras, 50, has been around a long time, but he got some laughs when he misread part of his speech, giving himself nine extra birthdays.
“For 29 of my 59 years, I have called this place homeand it will always be my second home,” he said, momentarily confused by the laughter. He then caught his mistake: “Twenty-nine of 50. I aged nine years.”
Psaras said he first had the thought his career might be coming to an end early in the season.
“I knew it was time for me to step down when I brought the wrong uniforms to our game this year at Mount Hope. We needed to be black,and I brought white,” he said. “That was a sign.” In January, he gave it some more serious thought.
“Mike (Newsome) has kept me around the last four, five years, talked me out of the thought,” Psaras said. “I kept looking back at the time and the commitment I made and I justthought. After wins and losses, I make sure I look at things on both sides and I just felt at this time that it’s the right timing for me, for my children.”
Psaras said he hopes his successor is, like him, a Rogers graduate. Newsome would fit that bill, and said he’s learned a great deal from Psaras during his time as an assistant coach. “One of the major things I learned was to have class. He had class,” Newsome said. “He never went overboard to the point you felt like the program was about Jim Psaras more than it was about Rogers High School. It’s about Rogers High School and being proud of being a basketball player at Rogers and a Rogers student.”
Whoever the next Rogers boys basketball coach is, Psaras said he will be aroundand available should that person seek his input or advice on anything. For some general words of wisdom to his successor to be determined, Psaras offered this: “Trust your instincts, be committed to the important little things. Those little things are the difference in kids’ lives,” he said. “Make all the kids accountable. Make sure you share their passion with them. Make sure that they understand that this is a special place, this is a special town and the tradition at this school in every sport and everything it’s stood for, for over 100 years, is a heavy weight to carry. But make sure as competitive as the situation may get, you have class. Because people are always watching.” Going forward, Psaras could be one of those people watching, and his opinions and ideas almost certainly will be valued.
“Today we don’t lose Jim Psaras as head of our basketball program. I have just gained a lifetime consultant here,” athletic director Jim Cawley said during his opening remarks before turning over the floor to Psaras. He then quipped, “There’s no pay.”
On a more serious note, Cawley expressed his gratitude on behalf of Newport and Rogers High School.
“It’s an emotional day … It should not be a sad day, but a day we celebrate. We celebrate the fact that, for the past 29 years, the student-athletes at Rogers High School have had the opportunity to learn basketball, and life skills most importantly, from this man,” he said. “He’s a man who’s passion and knowledge for the game of basketball has transcended all boundaries and brought fabrics of this community closer together for generations. For that, this program, this school, this city, this state should be thankful.”
Psaras was thankful for the opportunity, and the memories it provided.
"This was not a decision that was made lightly. I’ve had a wonderful run at Rogers. I leave with the greatest sense of pride in what we have accomplished here, and I’ve always tried to do the right thing,” Psaras said. “My time here at Rogers has been a wonderful journey.”
‘I leave with the greatest sense of pride in what we have accomplished here, and I’ve always tried to do the right thing.’
ROGERS COACH TO RESIGN
HIGH SCHOOL BOYS BASKETBALL
March 26, 2014
Rogers Coach to resign
Saying he wants to spend more time with his kids in the winter months, Jim Psaras will step down after 29 seasons.
By Josh Krueger
NEWPORT — A nearly three-decade coaching career, one in which he accumulated more than 400 victories, was enough for Jim Psaras.
“My basketball is not done. It’s just that my time being a leader as the boys basketball coach at Rogers High School is over,” Psaras said Tuesday after the school announced his resignation.
A news conference is set for Thursday night, when Psaras will formally announce he is leaving a program he’s been with for 29 years, including 26 as the head coach.
“It’s predicated all on my children. I want to be able to, during the winter months, be supportive of my children in any way possible,” Psaras said. “I spent a lot of time and have given a huge commitment to Newport studentathletes. The timing is right.”
Psaras said he informed his children — daughter Julia, 14, and son Will, 10 — of his decision Monday.
“It was a very emotional period last night, but I think they will know and they will see that I don’t want to miss any of their games, miss any of their activities,” he said. “I believe it’s in the best interest of my children, and it’s a change that professionally and personally is good for me.”
On Sunday, Psaras met with assistant coaches Mike and Frank Newsome and Rob McEvoy, as well as former assistant and current Middletown boys coach Kevin Lendrum, to break the news.
“They were very supportive,” Psaras said. “When you have former players that have become your assistant coaches, and become part of my family, they were very supportive. It was good. It was difficult, but none of this has been easy for me. I’ve put in the time and the commitment in lots of forms and fashions, and I can’t let it go that easy.”
Mike Newsome played for Psaras in the 1990s, and has been one of his assistant coaches for nearly 10 years. He said he and Psaras previously had discussed Psaras’ decision to step down, and Newsome had an idea of what the coach had to say when he organized a dinner on Sunday.
“I knew Coach’s daughter is about to go to high school and I know he really loves watching her play,” Newsome said. “At a certain point in time he was going to make this decision because he was going to want to see her play more and be more involved with Will and his sports.”
Lendrum spent more than a dozen seasons on Psaras’ staff at Rogers before taking over the Middletown boys program prior to the 2010-11 season. Lendrum said he also suspected Psaras’ motive for the dinner.
“I had a feeling when he said he wanted to get together,” Lendrum said. “It was surprising a little bit. He’s been there for so long, but his kids are getting older and I know he wants to be part of their lives as well.
“It’s hard to imagine him not being on the sidelines for Rogers basketball. He’s a fixture there.”
Having a fixture like Psaras, Lendrum said, was part of what made the program so successful.
“In any program, one of the most important factors is that consistency, plus the fact that he knows pretty much everything about basketball helps,” Lendrum said. “A good majority of what I learned came from him. I thought I knew basketball — I played college basketball. I realized I didn’t know anything.”
Coaches who stay with high school programs for the long term are becoming more and more rare, so the fact Psaras stayed as long as he did and established himself as the face of the boys basketball program at Rogers did not go unappreciated.
“To the program, he’s meant everything. He’s been the cornerstone,” Rogers athletic director Jim Cawley said. “Especially now with coaches … I turn over a third of the coaching staff pretty much every year, so for a coach to last 10 years is in some ways miraculous. To have one that’s been with the program and how quickly he came in and made the identity his own … he was someone who’s definitely carried that torch and took great pride in that.”
That pride wasn’t limited to the boys basketball program.
Psaras was on hand for the Rogers girls team’s run to the Division II championship and cheered on the Vikings in the title game on Sunday at the Ryan Center.
“It’s been a very long stretch, very emotional move for me, watching with so much Viking pride our girls accomplish what they did in the fashion they did and having different relationships with kids on that team,” Psaras said. “It’s been a difficult time, and I know that this will be very difficult for me on Thursday, but it has to get done and I want to do it the right way.”
Both Newsomes also were there on Sunday, and Mike Newsome said there was no discussion before hand about the boys coaches going to the girls game. It was a given.
"We support the school. It’s not just about basketball, it’s about Rogers High School, Newport Public Schools,” he said.
The search for Psaras’ successor hasn’t begun, Cawley said, but it will soon.
“That will be a process we’ll have to jump into fairly quickly,” he said. “We’ll get together with the HR department and have them advertise as normal. I expect this one to generate more interest than most.”
As of yet, none of Psaras’ assistants has directly expressed interest, according to Cawley.
“I think everybody’s on the same page,” he said. “We’ll let Jimmy finish out and then I’m sure we’ll be having some conversations.”
Mike Newsome said he is very interested and will apply for the job.
“I’ve been under his wing for about eight or nine years now, being his top assistant. I have much interest in the job,” he said. “I’m applying when it opens up. I’ll do my best to hopefully convince the committee that I’m the right person for the job. Coach taught me do it with class and I will do it with class. We’ll be a class act.”
Because of what Psaras has done for the program, Newsome agreed with Cawley that the position is likely to draw considerable interest.
“The respect that coach has from the other coaches around the state, I think it does make it a job that certain people are going to apply for and want,” Newsome said. “The only thing that’s going to deter folks, if it does, is because we’re in the back of Newport, but there will be a considerable amount of candidates.”
Whichever candidate ends up with the job will have “big shoes to fill,” Newsome said.
“He’s done an awesome job. It’s going to be different,” he added. “You have that foundation to a program. Even though the program started way before him, he’s held that program in high esteem for 26 years. He’s going to be sorely missed.”
‘Even though the program started way before him, he’s held that program in high esteem for 26 years. He’s going to be sorely missed.’ Rogers assistant coach Mike Newsome, talking about Jim Psaras
Psaras leaves huge void at Rogers
April 07, 2014
He started his high school coaching career when he was still a college student, and he won the state’s major boys basketball championship in only his second year as a head coach.
Somebody else in his position might have thought high school coaching was simple. But right from the beginning, Jim Psaras knew high school coaching wasn’t going to be easy, especially at a mid-size public high school in the smallest state in the county.
But he welcomed the challenge.
The world, and the city of Newport along with it, already was starting to undergo dramatic changes when Psaras became the Rogers High School boys basketball coach in 1989.
The boats in Newport Harbor during the summer seemed to be getting bigger and more plentiful, but the city was losing some of its middle-class residents whose children had formed the core of what had been successful Rogers athletic programs for decades.
It also was becoming a world where teenagers were facing a constant bombardment of new technology that would drain their attention and focus.
But fortunately for Newport, one constant over the past three decades was Psaras’ passion for coaching high school basketball.
A few weeks ago, Psaras announced he was stepping down after 26 years as the Vikings head coach. It marked the end of a long and dedicated coaching career that, unfortunately, we just don’t see that much in high school sports these days.
It was almost three decades of a passion for teaching young people some very valuable life lessons through their participation in sports, as well as winning a lot of games.
His won-loss record is one of the most impressive in the history of Rhode Island high school boys basketball. His Rogers teams won three Division I state championships. Since 1990, no other public school boys basketball team has won three Division I state titles.
His teams won 421 games in 26 years in a variety of different divisions, while losing only 245. That’s a 63 percent win-percentage, which has to be one of the best by any public school coach in the history of high school basketball.
But his coaching career was so much more than the victories. It was 26 years of developing relationships with young people; nearly three decades of teaching teenagers important values of commitment, determination hard work and teamwork at a time when their lives are being affected by so many outside influences
Psaras has every right to feel after 26 years that his job is complete.
You just hate to lose the good ones in Rhode Island high school sports, and he was one of the best.
July 25, 2000
BOB WALSH ON COACH PSARAS
I had Rogers High School kids on my team at RIC before I’d ever seen Rogers High School play. Cam Stewart was the first one, and he was in school at RIC when I got the job. He had a great 4-year career for us and was a key player in establishing our run of success. Nick Manson and Mason Choice followed, and altogether I’ve now had 5 players from Rogers High School play for me at RIC. Tough. That’s the first word you would use when describing every Rogers kid. Rogers is in Newport, Rhode Island, and tough is not the first word you think of when you think of Newport. But these kids were remarkably tough. They were prepared for college basketball from the day they got here. They picked up our defensive stuff immediately and had great natural instincts on the court. They had great feel for the game, were unselfish, competed extremely hard and made their teammates better. They did whatever they needed to help the team win, and winning was always their main concern. Jim Psaras’ kids were good at winning. I can’t really think of a better way to put it. I finally made it to see Rogers play a few years after I started at RIC, watching them in a state playoff game. They had a talented team that could make some serious noise in the state playoffs that year. I watched them play and saw a team that competed really hard and defended in a way that most high school teams didn’t. They were bought in on defense and clearly had a system, something you don’t see that often in high school. I started to understand why their kids fit in so well with what we did, because their defensive principles were very similar. They were disciplined and clearly well-trained.
Rogers was shorthanded that night and took a loss, with a couple of their best players not playing. After the game I found out that Coach Psaras had suspended 3 of his kids for the state playoff game. When I spoke to him after the game his explanation was very simple – “If you don’t do what your supposed to, you don’t get to play.” That’s when it hit me. Now I knew why his kids were so ready to play when they got to college. I learned from Coach Psaras that night, and it certainly wasn’t the last time that happened. As a coach it’s not really about the score, it’s about the impact. Jim Psaras won a lot of games in his career. But more importantly he had a huge impact. What a great legacy. I’ve been coaching basketball in Rhode Island for 16 years, and I love how important basketball is in this state during the winter. In conversations with people about Rogers High School or Jim Psaras, the next sentence usually involved the phrase “best coach in the state.” Other coaches won more games and more state titles, but if you could measure the positive impact he’s had on his players over the years, I’d say most basketball coaches are chasing him. I know I am. Jim Psaras retired from coaching at Rogers this week after 29 years. Unfortunately basketball in Rhode Island and the community in Newport got a little bit worse with that news. But if I was a young basketball coach hoping to run my own program one day, I’d make my way to Newport and look up Jim Psaras. I’d imagine he’d love to talk to you about leadership and basketball. He might be done coaching, but my guess is he’s not done having an impact.