Aric Kucel is a physical education teacher at Shaker High and is in his second year as the boys varsity basketball coach. He was born and raised in Gloversville, where he taught and coached for 12 years. During his last season, in 2020, he led the boys team to a Foothills Council title and made it to the Section II Class A semifinals. He was a standout guard at Hudson Valley Community College playing for Vince Medici and Andre Cook. Medici currently serves as the varsity assistant coach at Shaker High School. After attending HVCC, Kucel received his teaching degree from SUNY Cortland.
Q: Obviously, a coach teaches fundamentals and plays but what else would you like the student athletes to take away when they leave your program?
A: Hopefully our boys are learning valuable lessons, not only on the court, but off it. As a coach, our greatest responsibility is helping mold the character of young men. We want our student-athletes to be selfless, thankful, humble, driven, committed, and responsible. All of these characteristics lead to success on and off the court.
Q: What would you rather your team excel at, offense or defense and why?
A: Both! If you can excel on both ends of the floor, you have a championship level team. Our greatest emphasis is certainly the defensive end. When you have five guys connected on defense, and you’re able to take away your opponent’s strength, I believe that’s the easiest way to take control of the game. Also, we feel that our defense is our best offense. When we play great defense, we’re getting deflections, steals and long rebounds, which leads to us getting out on the break and getting good looks in transition.
Q: What characteristics do all good athletes have in common regardless of the sport they play?
A: Great question, I think being coachable is huge for an athlete. Good players want to be coached, and they want to be coached hard. The great players want to be told the truth. I feel like this is a huge separator between good and great athletes. The great ones want to know so badly how they can get better, they’re willing to hear hard truths. And the great ones know, the truth doesn’t hurt, it helps. And the great athletes are all about the team, and are willing to do whatever it takes to help their team achieve success.
Q: As a physical education teacher what do you try to instill in students and why is it so important for students who might not be athletically inclined?
A: I think the biggest thing I try to instill in my students is to always give your best effort. No matter what we’re doing in class, whether it’s something you excel in or not, you always try your best. When you give your best effort, you never have any regrets. Always trying your best is a great character trait that all successful people share.
Q: Who is your favorite basketball player and/or team and why?
A: My favorite basketball team is always the team that I coach, so it’s the Shaker Bison. My favorite players, are my players, current and former. I love watching a guy like CJ Haver who is constantly sacrificing his body by taking charges for the good of the team. Or someone like Anthony Gilchrist who is so committed to the team. Anthony gets little playing time, but he brings so much energy to our practices and to our bench during games, he’s an important piece to our team. I’ve also been very lucky to coach some really good players in Gloversville, who mean so much to me. Dante Bouchard, Joey Rowback, Anderson Jones, Julien Deumaga, Buck Galster, Andre Stanfield, and Esean Brown to name a few. Because of those guys, I’ve been able to make the move on to Shaker and coach a great group of guys who I love being around.
If you would like to see someone featured in Five Questions contact Jim Franco at [email protected] or 518-878-1000.