CATSKILL — Columbia-Greene Media recently learned that the coaching duo of Andy Jones and Doug Lampman will not be returning to coach the 2020-21 boys varsity basketball season at Catskill High School. We recently spoke to Coach Lampman to discuss his time with the program and all things Catskill basketball.
Q: So that is it, you guys are moving on? What led to you hanging up your whistle?
DL: We felt the time is right to step away. We came in with the goal of using this beautiful game to teach our athletes how to become better young men and hopefully better fathers, citizens, husbands ect. through their experience in the program. Our focus was always to make our athletes better young men through the game. We focused on discipline, commitment, sacrifice and academics.
Winning was something that would just come naturally if you take care of these things, it was never the focus. The focus was being the best we could be. Current leadership has put a huge premium on winning a state title. Anything short of that is a failure. I’m not comfortable working in that construct. It is probably best that I get out of the way and give them their opportunity.
Q: You have been here a long time. Are you keeping the door open for a return?
DL: If the climate is such that we can continue to make a positive difference in our athletes’ lives, then I would say yes. It is hard to thrive, and frankly unfair to the athletes, if everyone is not pulling in the same direction. Parental influences, varying philosophies, and politics can really affect successes and failures of a program. Ultimately, it’s the student/athletes that are the ones who get hurt. It’s important to me to mitigate that. If stepping out of the way helps that, especially for now, then that is what I am going to do.
Q: There are so many unforgettable highlights, what do you think you will miss the most?
DL: I will mostly miss the interaction with the athletes. I have always enjoyed the variety of personalities and individuality that my players bring to our annual experience. It really is magical pulling all those differences together to create a product that can overcome our opponents talents, preparation and game play. At the end of the day, that is my favorite part.
Obviously the competition is fun, we have won some big games over the years, that can be very satisfying. But most of what motivates me happens during the school day in my office, on the practice court, in the halls, in a text message etc.
My high school coach Arthur Waldron said to me when I got the varsity job in Catskill, “Doug, if you judge your success and failure based on whether you won a title, you will have some good years and bad years. If you judge your success on making a positive difference in your athletes lives, every season can be successful.” I always remembered that. Hopefully we have made a difference. That connection is what I will miss.
Q: Speaking of titles, you guys have done your share of winning those. Nine league titles including an unprecedented five in a row at one point, a Section II title, countless tournament titles, four appearances at the Glens Falls Civic Center. You surpassed 300 career wins to finish with 304 total. Coach, that is quite a resume. Did you ever expect those kinds of stats?
DL: Short answer, no. Again, it is remarkable when you look back. In the middle of it, it is simply taking care of the little things. I’ll give you an example. I get picked on by my athletes and even other coaches for something I do before every practice. I literally write a practice plan for every single practice. Right down to the minute, I schedule every drill and focus of each drill.
My colleagues say, “you have been doing it for so long, can’t you just wing it?” I feel if my athletes are going to work, I’m going to prepare. lus, when the athletes see the plan, they have something to complain about “Coach, we have to do that again?”
When you’re coaching, you really don’t focus on the victories and other successes, just preparing to be the best we can be. But it is remarkable, most coaches never get to set foot in the Glens Falls Civic Center, win a league or sectional title, so I feel blessed.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want these past two decades of Catskill Basketball to be remembered?
DL: First of all I want everyone to remember the varsity team as one that for nearly two decades was coached by Coach Lampman AND Coach Jones. I tell everyone who will listen this program does not have this kind of success without Andy. He answered his phone at 2 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep, we talked to each other endlessly about the team, attended annual coaching clinics from Harvard to SUNY Cortland. He coached our Fall Ball teams and was as loyal as an assistant coach could ever be. Please, always talk about us as equal partners, he really is a brilliant basketball mind and coach.
Second, our graduation rate. In all my time at Catskill, if you played in my program for 4 years, you graduated. We rarely lost anyone to academic eligibility and if we did it was brief. If you were on our team, you attended school all day, you sacrificed your time and vacations to attend every scheduled practice, and you worked hard to be the best you could be. I felt honored that parents would let me work with their children, I returned that gift by keeping their children accountable toward being successful — on and off the court.
Q: Over nearly two decades, and I know it will be hard, what are you most proud of?
DL: The answer might surprise you, because you would expect me to say our 2011 Section II Championship team. And I am proud of what those athletes did and who they have become today, but mine is the league titles. My critics say “anyone can win the league, the league stinks.”
I remember an interview with Bobby Knight who was the then coach of Indiana University. He said to the reporter something like this: “a team can get hot and win in the postseason, but to win a Big Ten regular season you have to have consistency for 4 months.”
I always remembered that through my time coaching. Show me a team that can consistently win against schools like themselves and I’ll show you a team that does not cut school or practices, a team with discipline, a team with purpose, a team that is unselfish and many other positive attributes.
People think it is easy because the idea is to make it look easy. Take a team into Chatham on Panther Pride night and perform at a level to turn that emotion away. Take a team up to Maple Hill to battle Hanrahan some night. Go into Greenville on a Friday night “white out” and keep your boys focused.
Go play Hudson in a packed gym at C-GCC after playing last year’s Vermont state champion the night before. Everywhere we went, every night we played, we had a “target” on our back. We were everyone’s “team to beat.”
That can be a tough burden, given all the drama that a teenager deals with from November to February. These things can be dismissed as “easy” by people who don’t understand high school basketball, but for those who understand, it’s very gratifying to be as consistent as we have been.
Q: You have seen some great teams and players, do any of your opponents stand out?
DL: So many. Lists are terrible because you always forget someone. I think of Derek Reardon’s team led by Isiah Heard. Everyone knew he was going to the basket and we still couldn’t stop him. We had some great games with that team. I am glad to see him coaching in Hudson.
The Michaud brothers from Ichabod Crane, they could play. I think it was Ian and Dalton Austin-Michaud. What a gift for Coach Ferguson. The Cairo-Durham teams in 2010-11, with Brendon and John Halligan leading that squad.
The Hanrahan squad from Maple Hill in 2008 with Trent Tibbits, Jaime Schultz leading that group. They were great teams and made some deep runs in the postseason.
When Chris Preusser was coaching at Taconic Hills. That team led by Anthony Chicaza, Kyle Preusser and Jordan Hoose was a great team.
I think that the best local team I coached against was Mike Alert and Kimdrick Murphy’s squad at Hudson. When that team got rolling there was no stopping them. There have been some great challenges over the years.
Q: I know you are a longtime member of the Section II Basketball Committee, do you see this as something you would continue? To help represent our area in Section II?
DL: If I can give back to the game we both love, I would. Right now I think this is something I would give up to the current coaches in our league. But it has been gratifying. Maybe someday that will be something I seek out.
Q: What do you plan to do with your winter coach? This will be quite an adjustment.
DL: It will be weird. I have been coaching a basketball team of various levels every winter since 1992-93 until now except for the one winter I had to care for my infant son, who is now 25. That is a lot of time in the gymnasium.
I’m going to enjoy watching my oldest daughter play high school basketball for Greenville. I’m going to try to do more duck hunting, ice fishing and spend time in the mountains with my dog. Holidays will become much less hectic. I’m also looking forward to being a fan again.
I have been a fan of Catskill Basketball since I was putting Daily Mail articles on my bedroom walls as a seventh-grader. It will be nice to sit back and enjoy the new approach, fresh ideas and a new staff.
I know Dr. Cook is from the Poughkeepsie area so I’m hoping he has some young coach in mind to implement this new way forward, a different and exciting way to run this program. Or maybe it is a local coach. Either way I’m excited to see the new approach. I have bled orange for two decades and I hope that the best for Catskill Basketball is ahead of us under Dr. Cook’s leadership.
I work closely with him often and I have a lot of confidence in his leadership. There is a real talented group coming back led by Leviticus Johnson, Logan Scott, Cameron Lyles and Kellen Gibbs. They should definitely keep it rolling. It will be weird, but I’m sure I’ll keep busy. It was great to have had this opportunity.
Q: I want to thank you for your time in providing some thoughts. Is there anything else you would like to share?
DL: I first want to thank my wife Stephanie. Being a Catskill alumnus, she has been nothing but supportive of my work with the program. Behind every coach is an understanding and caring spouse. It is tough being a coach’s wife at times, things can get a little emotional and I appreciate all her support.
Obviously my children, coaching is a family affair that is for sure. I’d like to thank my Dad and my Uncle Pete, they rarely missed a game over my whole career. I’d like to thank Andy Jones for all the help he has volunteered over the years.
My long time JV coach Patrick Hernandez, a great basketball mind with a similar approach to the game. Also, any of the many youth coaches that have contributed over the years. I want to thank my Athletic Director Eric Joyce who is always positive and supportive. I want to thank our administrations, my colleagues and school board members that have supported us during all these years. It really does take everyone pulling in the same direction.
To alll the parents of my athletes, thank you for your trust and understanding over the seasons. I have had some amazing parents and supporters. Mostly I want to thank my athletes, scorekeepers and other team members. I want to assure you that being an alumnus of this program means family.
You all worked so hard on and off the court to be the very best you could be. You can all talk about the dreadful “Boot Camps,” preseason 6 a.m. workouts, summer leagues, Fall Ball, Sunday morning practices, “Take a Charge” pizza parties, those annoying ties and suit jackets and many other shared experiences. Thank you for all that hard work, I hope you are all doing well. It has been a pleasure to work with all of you.
I want to thank you, too, Tim, and the rest of your staff at Columbia-Greene Media. You have been there to enjoy the ups and even extended empathy during the downs. I appreciated all the support.