By Abbas Haleem
Roosevelt assistant coach Aaron Rolle found himself staying on his friend’s couch off 18th Street and Wabash Avenue nearly five years ago. He needed to save money from his night job while volunteering as a Lakers men’s basketball coach during the day.
He worked the door at a bar for a while before getting a job at SmithBucklin, where he would work from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. before running down the street to Roosevelt’s Goodman Center.
For Rolle, the decision to work as a volunteer paid off. He was promoted Jan. 28 to associate head coach, and he is also the intramurals coordinator at Roosevelt.
Now Roosevelt has three volunteer assistant coaches who seem to be following Rolle’s footsteps in hopes of actually getting paid to coach.
Roosevelt, a Division II National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school, only has the money to pay a head coach and an assistant coach. Both positions are already filled, so like Rolle once was, assistant coaches Dan Schlossberg, Joe Davenport and Anthony Beaumont are working other jobs while volunteering to coach the Lakers without pay.
Usually the first on the court for Tuesday morning practices, Schlossberg would fill in for injured players early in the season. He played Division III basketball in college, including a season in Argentina. Now he works as a full-time sales representative for Rosetta Stone.
“I stopped playing because I wasn’t good enough to get paid to play,” he said with a laugh. “I graduated college, and I got a normal job working corporate America, and I just missed hoops, so I came back to coach it. Unless you’re one of those top-level players, there’s always an expiration date on your official career, and then you just play pickup.”
Schlossberg said coaching at Roosevelt is like having a second job. He said he spends so much time with the team because Griffin treats the volunteers as regular assistants. He doesn’t think about getting paid because it’s a distraction that negatively impacts his performance.
Beaumont feels the same way. He was part of former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff, working on analytics and statistical analysis for four seasons, and worked as an assistant video coordinator for the Chicago Sky. Now he’s a technical assistant for Sports View, tracking stats for Bulls home games. He found his way to Roosevelt through the head video coordinator after the Sky season ended.
“I’ve never really considered it a money thing because I know later on I’m going to get paid back for the work and experience I’ve done,” Beaumont said. “Now it’s just a learning experience for me.”
Davenport, who coached in a pro league in Iceland as well as at Chicago’s Richard J. Daley College, has been limited this semester to evening practices and games because he is also a Chicago Public Schools teacher.
Having five coaches brings different coaching perspectives to the team and holds players more accountable during practice because they’re always being watched, said senior Pete Mroz. He said Schlossberg relates more to players because he played in college. Beaumont is critical about the team’s offense and knows statistics off the top of his head, reasons Mroz said he loves talking to him.
“You can talk to them any time,” Mroz said. “The great thing about all the coaches is having different ways of showing the kids how to get better from their mistakes. I think that’s what helps the players.”
Schlossberg and Beaumont said they develop connections with the players that make them want to stay four years just to see what they do and how far of a run the team might make. Schlossberg said development is the reason he wants to keep coaching at the college level.
Rolle said Schlossberg’s sales background helps with recruiting and that Beaumont is becoming more assertive while being able to connect with players on a personal level. Davenport knows how to be firm talking to players while still bringing energy to practices, Rolle said.
“When most people watch a practice or something like that, you can’t tell if guys are getting paid for what they do or not,” Rolle said. “Everybody treats it the same way.”