FDUís Newest Knight talks Family, Community and the Half-Court
FDUís newest Knight Coach Greg Herenda with FDU Metropolitan Campus mascot Knightro at his press conference in April.
By: Sara Chamberlain
FDU recently had the opportunity to sit down with the newly named Knights menís basketball head coach Greg Herenda. In this interview, see beyond the coach on the court, to a true community man and team player.
FDU: What brings you to Fairleigh Dickinson University?
Coach Herenda: Challenge. I have had a number of head coaching positions, and the challenge to bring this team back to prominence within the Northeast Conference and within the nation is very enticing to me. When I interviewed here, I really enjoyed the people, coaches and administrators, and each day that I am here, I feel more and more at home. I just felt like coming home and having an impact and turning around a program by getting it back in the condition that it deserves.
FDU: How do you plan to bring pride back to FDU basketball?
Coach Herenda: Itís a four-letter word, and itís called WORK. My belief is that the only real way you develop a pride in anything is by earning it and working for it. I have had the privilege of working our guys in post-season workouts since I have taken over the job. I think we have set a very specific goal in working hard and the players did a great job, so I am looking forward to assembling the entire team this fall and preseason. Once these kids work, the winning will follow. I canít tell you exactly when that will happen but itís going to happen. It happens by assembling a good staff, good players and working together. Then there will be pride. Even just having a good practice can translate into having a good game, then a good season and then winning a championship. That is my goal and our ultimate goal here.
FDU: With a team that is currently struggling how do you plan to make a turn around?
Coach Herenda: This is a challenge and I have never looked at where people think we are going to be, but rather to where we are going. The challenge to move up in the rankings is a daily event. It starts with recruiting good players and having those players study hard and practice hard; itís having a staff that works along with the head coach to instill a belief in the program. At the end of the day itís about getting good student-athletes to Fairleigh Dickinson. So far, we have had relative success. We are getting athletes interested in the University, interested in the basketball program, and really that is the genesis of our success.
FDU: Where do you see the future of FDU basketball heading?
Coach Herenda: There is only way itís going to head and that is up. I want to get the respect of our alumni, fans, the campus community, and; most importantly, the respect of our competitors, so that people will respect how Fairleigh Dickinson plays defense, how they run the floor, how we execute on offense and how hard we play. I think that is pivotal in this day and age. Without supreme effort itís hard to attain anything that is worth hanging onto. Our team is going to play very hard, and hopefully be a source of inspiration for our campus. That comes through a group of kids coming together, working hard and playing together.
FDU: A great deal of positive feedback was generated after your press conference, especially on social media. Would this entice you to join social media? You could tweet from practices and pre/post game sessionsÖ
Coach Herenda: I am an old school guy. I love to sell our program with the great resources we now have at the University. I have never tweeted. I love getting out and selling the basketball program, Fairleigh Dickinson and helping to make the University successful.
FDU: What is your favorite pregame ritual?
Coach Herenda: Listening to music. Iíll be in the locker room; I usually do not come out of the locker room before game time. I am a player at heart, and most players listen to music before their warm-ups or on the bus. I clear my mind and get excited. Itís all kinds of music that I listen to its [Frank] Sinatra, Motown and [Bruce] Springsteen, anything that is good. I play the music in the locker room for our players too; there is a lot of meaning in the music. I would say music is a personís greatest motivational force.
FDU: What is your favorite sports moment on or off the court?
Coach Herenda: Winning the NJ Biddy Basketball Championship as a kid. We won and our whole team got on a plane and flew down to New Orleans. We missed a week of school. I made a big shot in that game and I have the red, white and blue net that was cut off the rim in my office. I have kept it since I was 13 years old. That stayed with me, the memories of being young, being excited and winning a championship.
FDU: Do you feel community service is important for the athletes?
Coach Herenda: My team will definitely be involved in community service. I think itís a great educational tool for the student-athletes so they donít play, live and study in a vacuum. I want them to see that there are people in the community that look up to them and who would really love to play and have the privilege of playing college basketball. We will be working the Boys and Girls Club of Teaneck and the cancer center. Weíll read within the community. We will be helping them out and reaching out to the community.
On May 23, I had the opportunity to participate in the Hoops & Heroes 3-on-3 tournament in New York City, with other coaches and veterans from the armed services, New York Police Department, Fire Department of New York, Port Authority Police and Navy Submarine School. I was able to coach the Coast Guard team and receive my first win as an FDU coach.
FDU: Who is your role model or inspiration?
Coach Herenda: My role model is my mother; her picture is up the highest in my office. She was born a twin in 1929 and her father played baseball with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. My grandfather, Bill Bergin, was inducted to the Brooklyn Basketball Hall of Fame the same night as Willis Reed and Lou Carnesecca. Mom was a tomboy and loved playing sports. She instilled the love of sports in me. After my fatherís passing when I was 16, we became very close. My inspiration is my family. I have a great family. Thatís what I want to build the program around, family, because then you will always be successful.
FDU: What is the one thing you want the FDU community to know about you? The one thing you want them to always to remember?
Coach Herenda: I really care. I care about each player, our team and the effort. I want them to realize we are going to play every second of every possession every day with extreme passion and high energy. I think the FDU community will respect that.