While Jon Smith is a familiar face around the Concord-Carlisle boys basketball team, and C-C sports in general, he and the Patriots are getting used to his new role.
When C-C coach David Cohen stepped down in November, before the Patriots’ first practice, Smith, a long-time assistant coach in three sports, including basketball, moved into the head coaching role.
“David is not an easy guy to replace,” said Smith, a 1992 graduate of C-C, who was a classmate and teammate of Cohen’s in high school and an assistant coach on Cohen’s staff for four seasons. “The kids loved him. I loved working with him. The season started off with everyone kind of unsure of things, but we’re getting used to each other.”
Cohen had been C-C’s coach since 2007 for all but one season. In 2014 and 2016, Cohen guided C-C to appearances in the MIAA Division 2 state finals. In 2015, the Patriots reached the Central sectional finals and in 2017, C-C made it to the Central semifinals. Cohen also coached Eric Sellew, the 20016 Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year and the program’s all-time leading scorer.
This season’s team is standing at 4-3.
“We started off with a lot of injuries,” Smith said.”Ben Brown, our only returning starter, was injured during soccer season. Guys like Evan Hadley, Cole Dressler and Nate Blunt haven’t played much before this year but they’ve really stepped up.”
Joining Smith on the coaching staff is Jack Jillett.
In addition to coaching basketball, Smith has been an assistant football coach and an assistant boys lacrosse coach at C-C, working with former coach Mike Robichaud in football and Tom Daliandro, a longtime assistant coach in football and head lacrosse coach.
“They’re great coaches,” Smith said. “Mike Robichaud is such a great speaker and a phenomenal man. Dave has such a great bond with the kids. Tom and I have been coaching together for 20-plus years in lacrosse. He cares about every detail with every kid and he can tell you what every one of them does well. I’ve learned from each of them.”
Smith has been a teacher in the Concord Public Schools for 27 years and is now a fourth grade teacher at the Willard School.
“I’m grateful to (athletic director) Aaron Joncas, my principal and the superintendent of schools for allowing me to be able to do this.It’s really something when you see them playing in the fourth grade and then see them again in high school. I can be in their lives for 10 years.”