Colonie

Troy-based Dags Basketball keeps workouts, lessons coming during pandemic

Hoop dreams don’t have to be put on hold
Steve Dagostino has posted virtual workouts and is hosting live training events through his Dags Basketball.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Steve Dagostino has posted virtual workouts and is hosting live training events through his Dags Basketball.

Categories: Rising to the Challenge, Special Sections, Sports

COLONIE —Steve Dagostino’s business is basketball.

So when the NBA suspended its season after one of its players tested positive for COVID-19 in March, Dagostino followed suit and his Dags Basketball, a Troy-based training operation that area players of all ages and levels have flocked to since he first started the business in 2009, immediately halted its in-person sessions.

For the 34-year-old who starred at Guilderland High School and The College of Saint Rose before playing several seasons professionally overseas, stopping everything was the only decision that made sense. Dagostino works with numerous area teams and individuals, and keeping all his players — from kids learning the basics to Shenendehowa High School graduate Kevin Huerter, who plays for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks — safe was his top concern.

Quickly, though, he developed other concerns.

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How could he stay engaged with all his players? And how could he help them stay active during a time when everyone is being encouraged to stay home as much as possible?

“The biggest thing for us when we had to cancel everything was we wanted to stay connected with everybody,” said Dagostino, who lives in Colonie with his wife and three children.

So Dagostino — who has spent time working with players through USA Basketball, too — started posting quick workouts, all for free, on his social media accounts. After a while, Dagostino added paid workouts to his virtual-training routine, but he’s kept the price down for those options so they remain accessible.

Rising to the Challenge: Faces of the COVID-19 crisis in the Capital Region

“We got a couple emails a day, especially in the beginning, from parents just thanking us for keeping kids moving, keeping them on a routine and staying engaged with them,” said Dagostino, who serves as his business’ co-lead trainer along with Shea Bromirski, a fellow Saint Rose alumnus who coaches at his alma mater of Cambridge High School. “And we also have a lot of people who will send videos to us [of them doing the skill work]. That part has been cool because I usually only really get to go back and forth with the kids during sessions, so it’s been cool to engage with them [through social media] like that.”

The Gazette recently caught up with Dagostino about how his training business has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: How did you get started with conducting drills through your social media?

A: In March, when this first started, for two weeks I was doing an Instagram Live workout every morning on weekdays, starting at 10 a.m. We’d go for 10, 15 minutes, doing ball-handling and skill work — and it was getting a great response. But what I was also getting was a lot of our clients asking if we could do something more substantial.

Q: So how did things change?

A: I wanted to keep as much free as possible, so what we ended up doing in April is for free, Monday through Thursday, I put out a daily challenge on my Instagram page; it’s a series of ball-handling moves I do myself and it’s timed, and then people can do it from home and try to beat my time. Then, on Fridays at 10 a.m., I go live.

Q: But you added some paid training opportunities, too?

A: Yeah, so I’ve put together Zoom workouts. We’re doing virtual training. It goes for a half-hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we’re doing 10 of them this month for $40. They’re 30 minutes, and they’re a little more advanced. I wanted to make sure we kept as much stuff as free as possible, but for our clients who are a little more serious, I wanted to give them this opportunity, as well.

Q: Safe to say that $40, in total, to participate in all of those training sessions is lower than your usual rate?

A: Yeah, it’s not even close. For an hour workout for a small group, we’re usually at $30 an hour or something like that. But we’re in such a unique time that my mind keeps going back to, “How can I impact people, how can we keep these kids moving — and, if we do have to charge, what’s the lowest we can charge to keep doing it?”

Q: I know your live Instagram videos have been attracting 300 to 400 viewers, and I see lots of area basketball players posting their videos on social media of them participating in the daily challenges. How many people are you getting to take part in the Zoom sessions?

A: It’s been awesome. We’ve had, like, 60 kids on a single Zoom session, which is way more than I thought we’d get. It’s been great to see the kids compete against each other.

Q: I’d imagine spring and summer is an important time for your business with offseason training. Once you have the “OK” to conduct in-person workouts, how quickly could you get back running?

A: Right now, I’m more thinking about the summer. We probably have five contingency plans for the summer between [Bromirski] and I. We have all these different things worked out so once we know what it’s going to be, then we’ll have the plan in place.

Q: You’re as well-versed in basketball as anyone in the area, so let’s have some fun here for a minute. Before everything got canceled, which team did you have winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year?

A: When I worked with USA Basketball for the first time ever, I went to the U18 trials and Anthony Grant was one of the coaches. I was so impressed with him. So I was hoping Dayton would make a big run — but I also always like Gonzaga, so one of those two.

Rising to the Challenge: Faces of the COVID-19 crisis in the Capital Region

Q: How about the NBA?

A: NBA? I’m following the Hawks for Huerter, so I’m at the other end of the spectrum. But who is going to win it? I would have liked to see LeBron win, so the Lakers. He only has a couple years left, and I’m just so impressed with what he’d been able to do this year.

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