Ever since he began playing basketball as a youngster in Jersey City, Alex Mirabel always dreamed of becoming a basketball coach someday.
“I had a lot of good coaches growing up,” Mirabel said. “When I played for the Jersey City Bondsmen, I had Donald Copeland, Sr. who really fueled my passion for basketball. When I went to the [Jersey City] Boys Club, I had Gary Greenberg. I had good mentors like Charlie Brown, Marc Brown, Oliver Antigua, Dalip Bhatia, who were all experienced coaches and all were huge in helping me. They all played big roles in my life.”
Mirabel went from a Jersey City youth basketball standout to an All-County player at Dickinson High School. He then went on to become a fine shooting guard at New Jersey City University, where he played for both Charlie Brown and son Marc.
From the minute he earned his degree at NJCU, Mirabel wanted to fulfill his dream of coaching.
So he joined the younger Brown as a graduate assistant coach with the Gothic Knights and remained there for three seasons.
Mirabel spent three years coaching the junior varsity and assisting the varsity at his alma mater, then two years ago he had the opportunity to join the coaching staff at St. Peter’s Prep.
A little over a month ago, Todd Decker shockingly announced his resignation after three years as head coach of the Marauders.
Last week, athletic director Rich Hansen wasted little time and elevated Mirabel into the head coaching position.
“Alex was the first guy I sat down with and talked to about the position,” Hansen said. “The pool of coaches looking for the job was pretty large, but Alex has been with the program for the last two years and watched everything inside out. He’s a good student of the game who was influenced by some pretty good coaches. He understands the working dynamics of coaching here. He’s young and has a lot of passion. He’s well liked. More people called me to endorse him as the head coach than anyone else we’ve ever had.”
Hansen said that he had no qualms about hiring a 30-year-old head coach, considering the fact that he was only 26 when he took over as head football coach back in 1986 and obviously Hansen handled things so well at Grand and Warren, so he feels that Mirabel could do the same.
“I think Alex is smart enough to be able to understand the pitfalls of coaching here,” Hansen said.
Mirabel has to handle a huge challenge from the outset. When last season ended in the NJSIAA Non-Public A state championship game last March, it was believed that the Marauders would be one of the teams to beat throughout the entire state in 2015. The Marauders thought that they had the majority of their roster returning, but that’s not the case any longer.
Five members of last year’s team have decided to transfer to other schools. It leaves the new coach in a bit of a quandary.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Mirabel said. “I understand that. State-wide, it might be tough, but I think we’ll be able to compete. I have a chance to start my own program and get kids who want to play for me and play for Prep instead of worrying about what’s going to benefit them.”
Mirabel said that he received a lot of words of encouragement from Decker.
“Coach Decker has a lot of passion for the game,” Mirabel said. “I respect that. I learned a lot from him and he prepared me to become a head coach. When he resigned, I was at first surprised. It wasn’t something I was aware of. I was preparing myself to be an assistant again. But Coach Decker called me, supported me and I have to thank him for that. He gave Coach Hansen a good word in my behalf and things worked out for the best.”
Mirabel, who works full-time at the Regional Day School in Jersey City, working with autistic students, teaching life and social skills, knows that he has his work cut out for him.
“It’s basically a rebuilding process,” Mirabel said. “But I’m willing to take on that challenge. I’m not afraid of the challenge. I have a good eye for talent. I know the county well. I want to be able to develop kids. We’re not going to have a microwave program, getting kids who pop in, play and leave. I want to coach kids who are willing to stay the full four years here. It definitely can be done here. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think it could be done. The school sells itself. Kids have to buy into the brotherhood of Prep, worry about the academics and then basketball.
Added Mirabel, “I’m excited and anxious to get this started. I love basketball. I’ve been playing the game my whole life and I’ve been preparing for this opportunity.”
Alex Mirabel has always been one of the most respected players, then respected as a coach, as you can find in Hudson County. Here’s to hoping he does a fantastic job and remains with the Marauders for many years to come…
Speaking of the Marauders, Prep golfer Paolo Matti shot a one-under-par 71 to earn the top medalist honors at the American Junior Golf Association qualifier for the Lessing’s AJGA Classic in Middle Island, N.Y. Matti shot the low score among 78 of the top boy golfers in 10 states….
Some of the former Lincoln football standouts will try to make their mark on college football fields this fall.
Tyrik Darby, the 2013-14 Hudson Reporter Male Athlete of the Year, will play football at Virginia State. Caleb Hebron will be a preferred walk-on at Towson State. Terry Linyard is at Bethany College in West Virginia and Raekwon Allen is off to Contra Costa Junior College in California, the same school that has housed several other top Hudson County and Lincoln products in the past, including Ronald Butler, currently the top receiver at Utah State…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.