by Kristen Keller, Felician University Sports Information Student Assistant
Many athletes want to take their love for their sport and make a difference in the lives of younger athletes. Only some have the opportunity to do that at their alma mater.
Felician University has many coaches who once attended the institution. While the staff has always contained a smattering of assistants who were graduates, in the last two years the Golden Falcons have added their first three alumni to the head coaching ranks.
In fact, Felician has nine people on its coaching staff, across seven sports, that have graduated from the University, or will do so in May:
|Erik Kotynski*||Men's Soccer||2002|
|Ivan Lewis*||Men's Basketball||2004|
|Rochelle Forbes||Women's Basketball||2006
|Aleshia Jijon||Women's Soccer||2010|
|Kashiff Foster||Men's Basketball||2012|
|Jimmy Schmitt||Men's Basketball||2013|
|Rob Albano||W&M Cross-Country||2014|
|Andrew Toriello*||Women's Bowling||2014|
|Alexa Scrivanich||Women's Volleyball||2016|
|* head coach|
One reason all of these coaches came back to Felician was because they wanted to make a difference for the institution. Although they left their mark in varying ways on their programs as athletes, they feel like they have more opportunities to do so as coaches.
"When I was asked to be the assistant coach for a team I had just graduated from, I was thrilled and honored," Alexa Scrivanich said recently via e-mail. "I felt like I was in a better position to help the program succeed. The potential for success of Felician volleyball is what draws me in daily."
Another factor in coaching at one's alma mater is familiarity. Ivan Lewis, who in addition to receiving a bachelor's degree from Felician, was an assistant coach for seven years, feels like knows the school inside and out.
"There is a high level of comfort for me here," said Lewis. "This is home."
Rochelle Forbes took time away from basketball, then spent a year as an assistant at Bergen Community College before returning to Felician. With that perspective in mind, she does not see a difference in the approach to her position.
"I don't think I have an advantage over other coaches," she said. "The mindset is different between being an athlete and being a coach," Forbes said. "Although both have one common goal, the steps and responsibilities are not the same."
Forbes' boss, head women's basketball coach Steve Fagan, disagrees. He believes that having a former Felician student-athlete on staff helps him to do his job better.
"I have leaned on Rochelle for guidance on the University," Fagan said. "She is able to give us her perspective from being the student-athlete. Everything she offers is from personal experience, which is invaluable."
Coaching in a "lifetime" sport like running, Rob Albano has found that can continue to lead younger athletes by example.
"Since I graduated, I never wanted to stop running," he said. "That is in part thanks to the competitiveness instilled in me by being a Felician athlete. I hope all of our athletes take that with them when they graduate as well."