Dayton Women’s Basketball
Hometown: Syracuse, New York
Education: Saint Joseph’s University (PA), Providence College
Email: rgensler1 at dayton.edu
Official bio at Dayton
The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career?
I think the moment I first realized that I would like to make coaching part of my career was when I was in graduate school at Providence College and our DOBO left in the fall of my first year as a Grad Assistant. I was thrust into that role and loved the responsibility and the opportunity to really contribute to the staff and be seen as an equal at such a young age. Moreover, I was studying counseling for my masters and the stuff we were learning was INCREDIBLY helpful in talking/listening to the players on a day to day basis. I quickly realized, coaching basketball is only maybe 10-15% of what a good coach does. The majority of the job is connecting with players, helping them understand their own self-confidence, and getting a group to buy into playing hard and for each other. It was a perfect storm for a light bulb moment to occur. I will be forever grateful to Phil Seymour for giving me an opportunity to really test my organization and maturity fresh out of college.
Outside of mentors, talk about one way you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.
Film! Early in my career at St. Bonaventure, we spent a lot of time self-scouting our players individually. As a young assistant coach, it was the perfect avenue to form new relationships with players I did not know. Really understanding their game with strengths and weaknesses is the perfect baseline to establish a trust and commitment to get them better. Let’s face it, players love watching themselves and to be able to engage in real dialogue about how to make them more successful is an investment that can only pay dividends later on. The more detailed and the more numbers driven the better. You have to have a mutual understanding of ‘the why’ for players as you develop them. If you are teaching ‘the why’ we are doing what we are doing, I think there will be the highest opportunity for growth.
Best career or work advice you ever received?
My first true assistant coaching job at St. Bonaventure opened my eyes to what really mattered. “If you play hard and play for each other, the result will take care of itself”- Jim Crowley (head coach at St. Bonaventure, now head coach at Providence College). I can honestly say I don’t think I ever heard Jim Crowley say ‘win’ or ‘loss’ ever. I think as a young coach you get so caught up in too many logic statements that box us in. ‘We have to WIN these statistical categories or we LOSE’. At the end of the day, all that stuff takes care of itself if the players go hard and play for each other. Everyone knows what that feels like and every pre-game talk, that was his goal for the team. No matter if we played the worst team in basketball or the best team in basketball, it put our players at ease because it was something they could control. It carries over to anything in life…
What is one thing you didn’t know about what coaches do before you got into coaching?
I had no idea how many hats coaches had to wear. I eluded to it earlier, but on court coaching is only maybe 10-15% of the job. You are a counselor, a tutor, a friend, a parent, a motivator, a group therapist, a team builder, a crisis manager, etc… the list goes on and on. That is the beauty of coaching though. You have the opportunity to be a life coach in a way. Phil Seymour used to say, “if you lose, don’t lose the lesson”. That has carryover to everyday life. The goal is best prepare your players for life and basketball is an incredible medium to do so.
Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Who is it?
It’s definitely Bill Belichick. My mother’s side of the family is from the Massachusetts and New Hampshire area and she INSTILLED Boston sports early in my childhood. Obviously, it was a heck of a way to grow up with flood gates opening for championships after such a drought. The more I wanted to coach, the more I read about Red Auerbach and Bill Belichick. Bill resonates a little more with me because I can still see and hear him weekly throughout the year. His ‘A Football Life’ on NFL Network is how I start basketball season every year. It helps me refocus on staying process driven and to not get lost in the end game, but rather get my mind on the details of the present. I’m obsessed with learning his approach to anything and everything because I think he stresses the right things: Having a culture of team first players who ‘do their job’ for each other and his attention to detail to stay focused on the task at hand cannot be underestimated. There is a podcast called GM Street on the Ringer website that has one of Bill’s former colleagues, Mike Lombardi, on and he tells stories about Bill all the time. I eat that up! So if I could sit with Bill and Mike Lombardi, I’d be in heaven. Their approach to evaluating players is what I would love to dive in further as they always found unique players that everyone passed up. There is so much crossover into basketball, management, and team building — why not learn from the best in sports.