Veteran area basketball coach Bill Haskell has a new team to lead. Now he needs a season to guide them through.
“We’re hoping every day,” Saratoga Central Catholic’s new varsity boys’ coach said. “I see where this state has begun and that state, and I get a little envious. I told my kids, ‘I can’t wait to have a full team so we can start preparing to play some games,’ but we’ve got to take everyone’s safety into consideration.”
Basketball is among the “high” risk winter sports waiting to hear from New York authorities whether it will or will not be played at the high school level when the new year comes. In the meantime, Haskell has been running Tuesday and Thursday modified, non-contact workout sessions with his Saints, who knew him as their assistant coach last season.
“This is the first place I coached where, when we’re done, the kids say, ‘Thank you,’ before they leave,” said the 64-year-old Haskell, who is in his fourth decade teaching the game he excelled at while attending Corinth High School and Adirondack Community College. “That’s kind of nice.”
Haskell joined the Saints program last season and served as a varsity assistant under Brett Simpson, who is currently teaching and coaching at Duanesburg.
Haskell’s staff includes varsity assistant Bill Luciano and junior varsity coach Dan Kumblander.
“I helped out last year and was looking forward to doing it again,” Haskell said. “When Brett moved on, [Saratoga Catholic athletic director] Phonsey Lambert asked if I’d be interested, and of course, I said yes. This is a place I’ve admired for a long time. It’s a great place to be. It’s got great kids. Great leadership.”
Haskell began his coaching career working with kids at Corinth, on the same basketball courts where he once shined as a player. Despite being born without a right hand, he was an effective scorer and rebounder for Corinth teams that won Northern Conference championships his junior and senior years.
“I was probably better at baseball as a younger kid,” Haskell said. “I fell in love with basketball because you could play on your own. I tried really hard, and as I grew up, I found things that worked for me. I went from being the last one picked to being the first one picked.”
Haskell picked teams and coached them at SUNY Adirondack during a 19-season run that concluded in 2018. He also served as the college’s equipment manager.
“Coaching junior college can be very difficult at times,” Haskell said. “You’re on your own there. You’re washing uniforms, sweeping the floors, recruiting. You get kids that are not always the cream of the crop. At the same time, I learned a lot about kids during my time there, and we had some success, too. We were nationally ranked a couple of times.”
Earlier in his career, Haskell served as assistant coach for the Skidmore College men’s team and with the Adirondack Wildcats of the USBL.
“He’s had a great career, and he brings with him a wealth of knowledge,” Lambert said of the Saratoga Springs resident.