Five Minutes with Coach Szabo '98

With an overall record to date of 14-0, Chaminade Julienne’s boy’s basketball program has worked diligently this season to first define goals as a team and then execute a plan to accomplish them . Under the leadership of Charlie Szabo ‘98, the team has remained grounded, passionate, and committed to playing at their best level.

Coach Szabo, who took over as head coach of the CJ Eagles boy’s basketball program in 2019, reflects on the season so far and provides an inside look into the players, challenges, themes, and new opportunities that has made this remarkable season possible.

The Players

Q: Could you speak to the depth of talent on this year’s team?

A: It’s no secret that good players make a good team. We are blessed to have a lot of talented athletes in our program. They are committed to working hard throughout the year in order to be the very best they can be on an individual basis, which obviously helps with what our players are able to do on the court as a team.

On any given night we have a total of 11 varsity players who can play and support the team on the court; however, there is only one basketball. We asked players to accept the roles that we needed to have them fill, and that’s what they did. The ability and willingness of our players to sacrifice and focus on team goals over individual accomplishments has been paramount to our success so far this season.

The Challenges

Q: Are there any challenges that have come along the way that have helped the team evolve? 

A: It’s been a unique year in the sense that this team had a lot of outside excitement attached to it, but mostly on the basis of the talented individuals on our team — not necessarily prior accomplishments. The challenge is to stay grounded and realize that pre-season accolades do not make you a good team. It’s continuously working together towards our collective goal that is allowing us to grow and improve. I credit the leadership of our senior athletes to make sure we keep our sights on what is important.

The Theme

Q: Is there an overall theme, vibe or feeling that has emerged for this year’s program?

A: When you have athletes on your team who you truly enjoy being around, it makes it very easy to come to work every day. The players and coaches in our program have created a family atmosphere where everyone cares about each other. That makes everything we do whether that’s practice, weightlifting sessions, bus rides, etc. enjoyable.

All year we’ve talked about playing with a sense that the target is on us since every team we play is going to be extra motivated because of the attention we’ve received. Our players have done a tremendous job accepting and meeting the challenges so far. I am hopeful that we can continue to stay focused, work hard, and remain grounded and humble as we work to achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

New Opportunities

Q: What new opportunities are opening up for the Eagle program this year?

A: We’ve been fortunate to be able to play in many high-profile events where our team and players are able to showcase our hard work. We participated in the Rich Kidd Classic at Centerville High School, headlined the Harvest Prep Holiday Hoops Classic, and participated in the Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic in Columbus. All of these events drew crowds in the thousands. 

What I may be most excited about is our game coming up this Saturday, January 14, in the annual Flyin’ to the Hoop Showcase. For the first time in our history we are playing the feature game on Saturday night — a slot that is typically reserved for really high-level teams. We have great respect for this event and we hope to put our best foot forward and represent CJ and the Dayton area to the best of our ability.

Watch the team in person or online during the Flyin’ to the Hoop Showcase

Chaminade Julienne meets Pace Academy (GA) for game 8 of the four-day showcase on Saturday, January 14 held at James S. Trent Arena in Kettering. Tip off time is 8:15 p.m. Purchase tickets for Flyin’ to the Hoop Showcase here. Can’t make it to the game? You can also watch the game online by purchasing the webcast link here.