Scholars’ Impact 6-0
When Rockaway thinks of Scholars’ Academy basketball, what most often comes to mind is the girls’ program. With three championship banners in six years, few would argue that they are a talented group. This season the boys’ varsity basketball team, too, has remained undefeated through its first six league games and has developed into an impressive tough little bunch.
When longtime resident Brett Tawil heard about the coaching vacancy at Scholars’ Academy he immediately thought it would be a good fit.
Athletic Director Joseph Lunati gave Tawil an opportunity, choosing him from the more than 200 resumes sent for this position,
With positive energy and enthusiasm Tawil has risen to the challenge. Tawil had stepped away from coaching in 2004, to raise his three children, having formerly coached the well-known basketball program at Brooklyn’s South Shore High School.
Now in his second year of coaching at Scholars’Academy his team has already experienced advancement to a playoff game. This despite playing most games on the road last season due to the wrecking the Scholars’ Academy gymnasium as well as the disruption to the school, students, staff and community caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Growing up as the son of a coach certainly made the sidelines at Scholars’Academy a familiar place. Many valuable lessons were also learned at an early age at Saint Francis de Sales where Tawil was coached by a trio of coaches who over his seventh and eighth-grade seasons won a combined 102 games and only lost three games and several Diocesan Championships.
James Andrews, William Lachner, and Ben Bogart had taught plenty of full court pressure defenses that other teams couldn’t figure out.
“With players like (future) restaurateur and Jameson’s owner Marty McManus, Kevin (aka ‘Oogie’) Moroney, Peter Mullin, Tom McDonaugh, Ed Martinson, Terry McVeigh, and Ross Intelisano, teams feared playing us,” Tawil said. “I’ve tried to take some of my experiences from the coaches I’ve played for at all levels, and blend them into only the best. I often have flashbacks to some games played at rival Saint Thomas Moore and Saint Pat’s of Brooklyn and tried to remember the different circumstances where our Scholars’ kids should be in certain positions on the court.”
According to Coach Tawil, it has been a thrill to work with such dedicated student athletes who strive every day to better themselves both academically and athletically. “With the backing and support of athletic director Mr. Joseph Lunati and principal Brian O’Connell, in such a short amount of time, it feels like we have accomplished plenty.”
Tawil carries 20 kids on his roster because he feels the importance of developing this program since there is no junior varsity program as of now. Most of his freshmen athletes are ready to compete for playing time and push the others for minutes played.
“We were recently invited to the Midwood Thanksgiving Classic where we competed against ‘A League’ teams and not only competed, but defeated top Queens teams,” he noted.
Wanting to keep a tight knit program, Tawil enlisted former Scholars’ student athlete of his senior class 2013, Casey Shamloo to assist him on this journey.
Tawil has also been running what originally started as a 20 child program with the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula (JCCRP) that has blossomed into a 100 kid strong program.
He describes the current enthusiastic participants as a “following of male basketball players whose sole purpose is to develop the sound fundamentals and how to ‘think’ the game of basketball.”
“Our local Scholars’ student athletes assist in teaching skills as this past season was highlighted by an eight team 3- on-3 tournament where every player got a chance to experience success.”
Having heard from parents “to not forget about the girls on the peninsula” Tawil is considering adding a girl’s roster to the JCCRP program, depending on enrollment and availability. With the YMCA opening soon, he is also setting his sights on expanding some of his programs in that facility.