Hudson Valley Sports Report

RICH THOMASELLI COMMENTARY: DO NEW POUGHKEEPSIE COACHES KNOW WHAT THEY’RE GETTING INTO?

Briarcliff’s Cody Moffett To Take The Boys Basketball Job

Last month, Hudson Valley Sports Report first reported that Poughkeepsie High School was changing football coaches for the sixth time in seven years, letting Nigel Whitaker go after one year in favor of Long Island City coach Joe Houghton.

Last week, Hudson Valley Sports Report first reported that Poughkeepsie was searching for a new boys basketball coach, ready to part ways with hometown hero Jerome Elting after two winning seasons, including a state quarterfinal appearance, Briarcliff coach Cody Moffett now assumes the job as the new coach.

One question.

Do these guys know what the hell they’re getting into?

Rich Thomaselli Commentary

We don’t know much about Houghton, coming from Queens, but by all accounts Moffett is a class act. He lives in Hopewell Junction and works in the Poughkeepsie district and last year led Briarcliff to its second Section 1 title and a berth in the state Final Four.

But, my goodness, do they know they are about to coach for the most dysfunctional school district and athletic department in the area, if not all of New York?

Do they know about the caustic culture that still exists? The back-stabbing? The meddling? The deceit?

From the outside it appears new athletic director Christian Hodge is trying to put his own stamp on the program, much like a general manager who comes into a professional sports team and wants “his guys” underneath him.

That’s fine, of course, but two years for Elting? Just one year for Whitaker? Hodge can put his stamp on the program all he wants but he’s doing it at the expense of some good people who understand what it takes to coach at an inner city school like Poughkeepsie. Whitaker was that kind of man. Former football coach Ken Barger was that kind of man. Elting was that kind of man. Former boys basketball coach Brian Laffin was that kind of man.

It takes a special kind of person to coach at Poughkeepsie, and if you’re a Pioneer parent or fan you hope to God that Houghton and Moffett are it. Because some don’t get it. They don’t understand the culture.

Case in point: Several years ago, HVSR went to a Poughkeepsie football practice in August to do a story. We watched as a change in time for the next night’s practice was announced, and a player came to the then-coach and told him he had to work. The coach berated the player and told him he had make a choice.

That’s not how it works at Poughkeepsie. That particular young man wasn’t working for a few dollars to take his girlfriend out for pizza and a movie.

He was working to contribute to his household.

That’s just one small example of the differences and nuances of coaching at Poughkeepsie, and there are coaches who most definitely understand that.

But not if they are constantly undermined. Not if they are coaching under the threat of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not if they are not allowed to develop their own program, build some sweat equity among players and parents, and forge a path from ‘team’ to ‘program.’

Maybe Houghton and Moffett will turn out to be those kind of coaches. But do they really know what they’re getting into?

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