SOMERS, N.Y. — Having to replace a highly successful coach can be tough but new Somers girls basketball coach Marc Hattem is already versed in difficult situations.
Hattem, who was approved by the Somers Board of Education for the job on June 27, coached Ardsley’s girls basketball squad the last two years, including the 2014-2015 campaign.
That season, he took over three games into it when Ardsley coach Michael Pollio left and Hattem guided the Panthers to 19 wins in a row before losing in the final seconds to Irvington in the Section 1 Class B championship game.
Simply put, Hattem is a hoop junkie who just can’t get away from basketball.
“I was actually the JV coach previously to that,” Hattem said. “I originally took that season off. I went back to school to begin a degree in administration and when coach Pollio left, they asked if I could come back, so I came back. I was actually taking that year off, I was kind of in transition but basketball brought me back in again.”
That experience should come in handy as he heads into his new job where he replaces Kristi Dini, who was let go by Somers in April despite her success. Dini led the Tuskers to their best season (19-3) in school history and for the second time in three campaigns won league coach of the year honors this past season.
Hattem, with his vast array of experience, including coaching five years of varsity girls basketball on Long Island at Roslyn in the early to mid 2000s, said when you start somewhere new, regardless of what went on in the past, you have to embrace the challenge of the future.
“As an educator, as a coach, my responsibility is to build relationships with those kids and get them to trust the system,” Hattem said. “Trust what you want to do as a coach, get them to buy into it and not make it just about basketball — it’s bigger thing than just hoops. Regardless of what happened in the past, I know it was a very successful program. Coming in new anywhere, that’s the challenge that you have, is getting your team to buy into what you are coaching them on and what you are telling them. I’ve done it before. I came into that Ardsley situation new and went into it when I was on Long Island new with a struggling program. It takes a little while. There is no magic wand.”
Hattem, however, is confident because of the type of student-athletes he has at Somers, the adjustment period between a new coach and players can be sped up.
“Everything I hear about Somers’ team is that they are a great bunch of kids, so that transitional phase hopefully happens sooner than later,” Hattem said.
Another thing that attracted Hattem to Somers is the opportunity to work with an athletic director as highly regarded as Roman Catalino and the type of community that Somers is.
“The Somers community is a great community,” Hattem said. “We were actually thinking of buying a house up there way back when. It just seemed like the right fit.”
On the court, Hattem has a firm idea of what he wants to do but is flexible depending on what the make-up of his roster is.
“I like to get up and down the court, I think that’s what keeps the kids having fun,” Hattem said. “I like to run, I like to pressure the ball, that’s the coach I am and then we get in there, see what we have, kind of tweak it a little bit. I found over the years the most exciting thing for the kids and what keeps them motivated the best is having the ability to freelance and transition a little bit; having the ability to trap a little bit. That’s what I buy into.”