April 12, 2012
The following is the complete transcript from the Siena College Press Conference on April, 12, 2012 introducing Ali Jaques as women's basketball head coach
JOHN D'ARGENIO, SIENA COLLEGE DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS
Good afternoon everybody, and welcome to the ARC. I appreciate you taking some time out of your day to come out and help us with this announcement and presentation today. I do want to take a moment, thank a few people, introduce our president Fr. Kevin Mullen and thank him for his support during the process and Siena athletics in general. I also need to thank Mike Demos, Dennis Bates and Steve Sansonese for helping us pull this announcement together so quickly and efficiently.
The leadership at Siena has given the athletic department a great opportunity to be part of the college's strategic plan, Living Our Tradition. With that opportunity comes great expectations. They want us to present the best face possible for Siena College and give this campus the opportunity to promote the great things that our faculty, our students, and our staff do every single day. With that comes the expectations of us as staff members and as coaches to recruit student athletes who value a Siena degree, to recruit student athletes who have the ability, drive and desire to win championships, and to recruit student athletes who want to be part of this Siena community in the classroom, on the court, and out of the classroom.
We can accomplish these expectations with head coaches who embrace that challenge, know that there are student athletes out there that exist, and want to recruit those student athletes. Ali Jaques is one of those people; by the background she has, the type of commitment she has made to herself and to academics, the type of commitment she has made to the programs she has helped build, the programs she has helped lead on a national level, and by the drive, desire, and passion she has to be great, but, more importantly, by the knowledge she has of the game, the respect she has for the game, and the way she can mentor and lead young ladies which has made her the best fit for her here at Siena College and to lead this program. So I would like to welcome Ali to the Siena community and produce her to you and have her come up and say a few words.
Ali Jaques, SIENA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH
Wow. First off, thank you to everyone for being here today. To me, this is a tremendous honor. I am really, really humbled by this opportunity and I can't wait to get started. I am so excited to be here. I have a couple of thank you's to get through.
First off, Father Kevin Mullen, thank you so much. From the first time I met you, I understood what this college was about and the type of people that are here and it means so much to me that you would give me this chance.
John D'Argenio, you are the best. You've made this seamless for me. You have given me the utmost confidence and I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity.
To my family who is here today, to my mom and dad, I love you guys so much. It's great to be back in New York, it's great to be part of the MAAC. I expect you guys to be at all my games. I have two brothers and a sister who could not be here today, who support me in everything I do. I love them with all my heart. I need to thank them for everything they do for me.
To my team, thank you. Thank you for the chance to be your coach. I promise I will always be honest with you. I promise I will work as hard as I can every single day for you, and I promise we are going to have a lot of fun. Thank you for this chance, it means a lot.
And thank you to the Siena family as a whole. From the second I stepped foot on campus, I got what this place was all about. It's about community, it's about taking care of each other, and that really means a lot to me. It's what I am about. So thank you to everybody who made me feel so special in the past few days.
Siena feels right to me. It feels like the right fit. The mission statement says it all and being a liberal arts college, that's my background, that's where I have worked for 14 years. The Franciscan community and giving back, being part of a community, caring about each other just feels right. Just feels right. I can't express that enough to be a part of a community where people care, people care about Siena basketball and that's really, really exciting for me, to be a part of something, to help lead something, to care of something where people really care. There is responsibility there and I cannot wait for the responsibility.
My philosophy is pretty simple on basketball and how I run a program. It's simply to put the program ahead of yourself. I'll do that, my players will do that, our staff will do that. I want to keep things really simple and really honest. We will put the program above ourselves. We will do things the right way. I have a track record of doing things the right way and that will never change.
I'm sure people want to know how we are going to play. I am excited about this current team. Let's make this clear right away. I want to win with this team. I have a reputation of being somewhat of a recruiter, but this is my team and I am excited to win with this team. So that's a big point for me that I want to make clear. I want this team to buy in to what we are trying to do and how we are trying to do it. We are going to be hardworking. We are going to get after people. We are going to be really enthusiastic with what we do. We are going to be smart on the court and we are going to be honest with each other. We will take care of each other so those themes are things in my program that you will see on the court as well as off the court.
X's and O's wise, I am really lucky to have worked with some great coaches. I played for a great coach having played at NYU and having a great experience there. Janice Quinn taught me how to be confident and that it was okay to be confident. It was okay to speak my mind. I want to thank her for that.
My first job was at Rider working for Eldon Price. He gave me a chance. He saw me in camp and said, "Hey, you want to try this out?" And it was an awesome chance to have. Ed Swanson at Sacred Heart allowed me to make a lot of mistakes as his only assistant to start, and I want to thank him for that. Sam Dixon at Furman taught me how to work really, really hard as an assistant, how to recruit and what it really took to recruit at a high level. Jim Jabir at Dayton taught me life lessons on how to balance things and how to be a good person and how to really take care of people as hard as I wanted to work.
Last but certainly not least, Joe McKeown. The last six years at George Washington University and Northwestern prepared me for this moment. He prepared me to be a head coach and I want to thank him for that.
We have a couple goals. I want to talk short-term goals. We are going to get better every single day. That's it. We are going to work really, really hard to get better every day at whatever we are trying to do. We are going to keep it really simple.
Long-term goals: We are going to compete and we are going to try to win championships. Every single day, every single year, that's what we are going to try and do. I am not a very good loser. I enjoy winning and we are going to try and hang some banners.
To bring things together before any questions, when I started in this business, I was a very naïve 21-year-old at Rider University under a part-time contract, waitressing during the day to coach at night. And some of my players were older than me, which was kind of strange. I was very naïve, but the one thing I knew was that Siena was the team to beat and I want us to be the team to beat. Our goal is to be the team to beat.
Questions from the Media
Mike MacAdam, Daily Gazette: Coach you have been an assistant for a number of years now, have you thought about how the role is going to change now that you are the boss and in charge of things?
Ali Jaques: Well... it's funny how quickly it can change. My head coach at Northwestern gave me a lot of responsibility as the associate head coach and I think he prepared me, but the one thing that changes is you go from making suggestions to making decisions. I think you have to be really confident in who you are and what you are about and stay grounded to make those decisions. All of my experiences have definitely lead me to this opportunity and I am ready for it.
Tom Benoit, 4guysinblazers.com: What do you think those Siena fans can expect when they walk through those doors to come to a game?
Ali Jaques: My understanding is we have a lot of fans so I am really excited about that. And I would expect that on a consistent basis they would see a very aggressive defensive team. The way I think, my mindset is always defensively-oriented. We are going to mix things up, and we are going to get after people. We are going to do some pressing. I don't want to give away all the secrets away yet but we are going to really get after people. We are going to work hard, we are going to dive on the floor, and we are going to pick each other up. You are going to see that there is going to be an intensity about this team, I can promise you that, and they are going to be very hard working and they are going to do it the right way.
Offensively, I know we have some great players. We have some all-conference players, we have some great pieces. We have to get healthy. Offensively, we are going to play to our strengths. I have worked for some great coaches who have prepared me on how to put a jigsaw puzzle together and how to play to your strengths. Eventually, we will figure it out and get after it offensively, but defensively, you are going to see us really work.