This season the boys’ basketball program has welcomed back Nick Jacobs ’15 and Soren McLeod ’16 as assistant coaches for Boys’ Varsity Basketball (BVB) and Boys’ Thirds Basketball (BTB), respectively.
Now a junior at Tufts University, Nick played point guard at BB&N, while Soren—a freshman at Harvard—played both point guard and shooting guard. The two remained on BVB for all four years of high school but neither competes now in college.
When changes in the coaching staff meant two assistant positions opened up this year, BVB Head Coach Nick Papas said he immediately thought of the two alumni because of their experience coaching the school’s summer basketball team. He called to offer them the jobs.
“I know Nick and Soren well, and I think very highly of them, so I’m really excited to have them as coaches. They’re going to be great role models for our players,” Coach Papas said, adding that their leadership skills and approachability boded well for their success.
Nick and Soren now attend team games and practices, assisting with drills and giving the players tips based on their experiences.
Justin Albee ’19, who is in his third year on BVB, said he appreciated Nick’s ties with the team.
“Since he’s really young and graduated only four years ago, he feels like a teammate, too. He’s able to connect to us because he knows the league just as well as we do,” Justin said. “[He] was a great addition to the BB&N basketball team.”
Nick said, so far, he enjoys coaching the team.
“It’s exciting to be back and teach the kids what I learned when I was on the team.” he said. “Something I try to teach them is the importance of competition. It’s important to push each other to be competitive in practice, and that nature will carry over into games. Only through competing can the team get better.”
He added that he was appreciative of Coach Papas’ phone call.
“The BB&N basketball program was intense and a big part of me in high school, so when Coach Nick called me, it felt like the best thing to ever happen.”
Jake Elkins ’20, a forward on BTB, said he attributed BTB’s success at Belmont Hill last month to Soren.
“He’s a very energetic coach who can relate to me,” he said. “The drills he’s led have helped us perform well in our games and get better at fast breaks.”
In one such drill, which Soren said he learned with Coach Papas, players line up on the baseline and watch teammates attempt to make two free throws in a row. If a player does, practice ends early, but if not, the whole team runs. Soren said he decided to try it after the team struggled with free throws in the first game.
“It took a while [at first], so the kids had to do a lot of running,” he said. “Then, in a recent practice, one kid came up to me before I even suggested doing the drill, asking to shoot the free throws, and he ended up making both of them, so I let everyone leave five minutes early. The team showed a little progress, and I was really happy about that.”
Soren said he likes his new role and has begun to notice the difference between coaching and playing.
“The biggest change from player to coach is definitely having to spend more time motivating players, whether it be giving them constructive feedback or applauding them for something they did well,” he said. Coach Papas added that he believes Nick and Soren are both doing a great job with their teams.
“Through their participation in our program as point guards and captains, which are both like coaches on the court, Nick and Soren have had a lot of experience as leaders on this team,” Coach Papas said. “And so far this season, they’ve been able to transfer that leadership over to the sidelines, as coaches.”