5 questions with Dave Pistone | TheUnion.com

5 questions with Dave Pistone

Since being named varsity girls basketball coach at Bear River High School, Dave Pistone has helped form the Sierra Nevada Basketball Association, a goal-oriented basketball development program in Nevada County. As the SNBA rolls into action, in conjunction with the Bear River Parks and Recreation District, Sports Editor Brian Hamilton sat down with Pistone to talk about the new program.

You’ve been working on the creation of the Sierra Nevada Basketball Association since this summer. Why?

“Couple of reasons. One is that we’ve tried to get a program that would help develop kids coming into the high school. The second is, less in terms of just looking at basketball skill and such, it’s a matter of saying ‘OK, what’s out there right now for these kids to learn and to develop to be successful in life?’ … As you know, sports is such a great way to get out there and learn about life and to deal with it.”

The focus, initially, is to be on girls in the south county area, and one of the priorities in the SNBA “mission” is to become a feeder program for school programs. So, being the new head coach of the Bear River girls program, is it fair to say you and the Lady Bruins have something at stake here?

“Yes and no. It’s a by-product. It really is. You may look at that and say ‘Yeah, right.’ But it really is a by-product. And the reason it says ‘starting off in the south county’ isn’t that we don’t want to help Nevada Union. It’s that we need to walk before we can run. If we start off and get this established, get a reputation, we fully expect this to grow. If kids from Placer, from Colfax, from Nevada Union, from Forest Lake want to participate, that’s great.”

How do you foresee this working alongside the existing recreation league programs out there, such as the Bear River and Grass Valley recreation leagues?

“The initial group was about 20 people that got together. One of those was Doug Reed, who is leaving (Bear River) Park and Rec. right now, which is a shame because Doug did such a great job and was very in tune with this. And we were very careful to make sure that we understood that we’re not competing with each other. We’re partnering with each other.”

Among the SNBA’s expectations of the athletes, it’s stated that your athletes will be asked to do things that they aren’t comfortable doing and with which they will likely struggle, and fail occasionally. And, it says, that’s fundamental to the SNBA’s philosophy of development. What does that mean?

“If you ask a kid today ‘What’s your goal for the season?’ they’ll almost always say … ‘I want to be a good basketball player. I want to get better.’ And that’s it. There’s no way of saying ‘Did that happen?’ It’s all subjective. So just introducing them to the concept of setting goals and trying to hit those goals is the first step … Maybe, when they played rec. league, they were scoring 20 points a game. We’re going to turn that around and say ‘Scoring 20 points isn’t what you need to focus on now. Right now you need to focus on something different.’ Maybe, it’s defense. Maybe, it’s something else.”

The program also touts a philosophy that “winning is an element of success, not the ultimate measure of it.” If it’s not wins or losses by the varsity basketball teams, then what will be the ultimate measure of whether the SNBA program is a successful one?

“Part of me would say, these kids go on and they’re doing great things in the world. They’re senators, governors, CEOs … they’re teachers or whatever it happens to be, but they’re just doing some great things. That, to me, would be the ultimate measure of success.”

– Brian Hamilton, sports editor

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