|Written by Jeff Falk|
| Craig and John Coletti enjoy a special bond. It’s rooted in love and respect and enhanced by a game called ‘basketball’.
After years of nurturing and supporting him from the background, John Coletti has joined his son Craig on the Lebanon boys’ basketball bench. His presence there makes the Cedars a better team and overall a better program.
The elder Coletti spent the past two years serving as his son’s junior high coach, before a JV position at the high school opened up. When it did, Craig Coletti knew exactly where to turn.
“We had a position open for an assistant coach, I asked my dad and he said ‘Yes,'” said Craig Coletti. “He was the first one to come to mind. The more you coach, the more you realize you want to hire people who are dedicated to the program. You’ve got to hire someone you trust and work well with. I figured my dad fit that role.”
“I just wanted to help with the program,” said John Coletti. “I like working with kids, that’s the main thing. This is actually a new experience for me because the kids are older. When you coach up to the eighth or ninth grade, you’re still teaching. It becomes a little harder to get through to them.”
Conversely, John Coletti knew Craig was the right man for the job three years ago when he took over a Lebanon program searching for a new direction.
John Coletti helped mold the competitive nature and coaching style of Craig, as well as his basketball-playing brothers Kris and Jason.
“We used to play together, from morning till it was dark and beyond that,” said Craig Coletti of his father. “I’ve seen his competitiveness on the court, his desire, his love of the game. When I was younger, we simply didn’t miss things. My parents were very dedicated to coming to see us play. I don’t think he missed any of my games or any of my brothers’ games. It made me what I am, my relationship with my dad.”
“He’s been a wonderful addition,” continued Coletti. “He’s at a point in his coaching career where he’s not going anywhere else. It’s a trusting factor as well. It’s nice to know that you’re coaching staff is on the same page as you.”
“Sure. There’s no question that I want to see the program succeed,” said John Coletti. “All of my kids played for Lebanon.
“I try to keep things in perspective,” Coletti added. “I enjoy coaching with him. I enjoy working with the younger kids. But I will do whatever necessary to build the program.”
Given Lebanon’s 2-0 start, the Coletti collaboration seems to be working.
During the heat of battle from the bench, Craig Coletti is concerned with the flow of the game, how the offense is being run and exactly which defense is bested suited for the Cedars at a particular time. It seems that John Coletti never stops concentrating on fundamentals.
“He’s very knowledgeable,” said Craig Coletti of his dad. “He’s able to dissect the game. He likes the Xs and Os, but he likes to keep the game in simple terms. You’ve got to be able to teach the game and he does.”
“He’s the coach,” said John Coletti of Craig. “He does all the Xs and Os. I work on fundamentals and get them (the kids) to play hard. If he asks for input, I’ll share it with him.”
Over the years, John Coletti has grown as a person and a coach. It is that maturity that helps him get through to players.
“In a word, considerably,” said Craig Coletti when asked how much his father has mellowed. “There’s still a passion for the game. It’s an emotional game, but you’ve got to control your emotions. The enthusiasm is still there. He’s always been able to relate to kids very well. He’s able to find what they do well.”
“My job is to prepare players for the varsity program,” said John Coletti. “That’s what younger groups are for. I’m a fundamentalist. I like working on the little things. But it’s not like when they’re 10, 11 and 12 years old and kids kind of look up to you. As kids get older, other things enter into it.”