Senior scores points with Athletic Coaching internship at alma mater

Roger Coda
JV Coach Seth McFadden huddles with his players during a timeout in the final game of the season on Feb. 13 against Clymer.

JV Coach Seth McFadden huddles with his players during a timeout in the final game of the season on Feb. 13 against Clymer.

Developing new skills. Building teamwork in student athletes. Generating a robust network within the Chautauqua County athletic community.

That’s the trifecta senior Seth McFadden scored during his J-Term internship with the Brocton Central School basketball program.

It’s no surprise Mr. McFadden took on a 1-credit hour internship for his minor in Athletic Coaching with the Bulldogs. He’s a 2020 graduate of the school and was a standout athlete in baseball, football and basketball, attaining all-star honors in the latter two sports. He played on baseball teams that advanced to the state semi-finals in Class D in his sophomore year, to the finals his junior year.

Seth McFadden coaching
Seth McFadden

McFadden’s passion for sports was rooted in little league baseball – when he was a second grader – and he’s managed to stay engaged in scholastic athletics at some level – as a player or a coach – ever since, so majoring in Sport Management was an obvious choice. Since Brocton Central’s enrollment is small – there were 35 graduates in his senior class – McFadden racked loads of playing time on the court, the diamond and on the gridiron.

“Our team was pretty good, but our roster was small, so I played a lot,” he said of the basketball team. “We had only seven players.”

During the internship, he was the Brocton JV basketball coach and an assistant to head coach Collin Mulcahy, who was also at the helm when the 6-foot-3 McFadden was one of the team’s “big men.” Small rosters meant frequent substitutions, so McFadden also played guard and point guard.

McFadden stayed connected with Mulcahy as a volunteer coach while he earning an A.A. degree in Sport Management at Jamestown Community College. “I started hanging out with him, to see his coaching style and how he worked with a young team, and to understand how a young team struggles,” McFadden explained, “and to develop my coaching skills.”

McFadden kept the same major upon transferring to SUNY Fredonia as a junior, as he was already familiar with the school and its campus and he could add a minor in Athletic Coaching. He credits several courses – PSY 237: Sport Psychology; HLTH 321: Theory & Techniques of Coaching; HLTH 115 First Aid Skills and Knowledge; and HLTH 220: Health Sciences Applied to Coaching – for preparing him for the internship.

Both during the internship as well as the years leading up to it, McFadden has tracked how his former coach strives to build up the team’s confidence in itself and observed how he introduces different skills that players hadn’t seen before. In a way, the Brocton internship is a rare opportunity for McFadden to go through the full coaching cycle, beginning with student-athletes as ninth graders, when he was a volunteer coach, and becoming a mentor to the players in their senior year.

Since he’s been involved with Brocton basketball for so long, McFadden has watched players develop from modified program level all the way to the varsity squad.

McFadden recognizes that coaching is a marathon, not a sprint, as long hours are synonymous at the scholastic level. Practices easily go two or three hours six days a week, and stretch to four or more hours on game days. He’s logged over 130 hours in the internship.

How are the JV and varsity squads doing?

“Both teams have been up and down; we started hot and then had a few injuries… Overall, it’s one of the better seasons that we’ve had,” McFadden reported. “It’s been a fun ride so far this year,” he said during the season. There was no JV program when today’s seniors were ninth graders, so it’s taken time for players to develop, he noted.

“There’s been a big improvement on the teams in four years. When they started, they were young, and now they’re coming together, understanding plays and learning how to win and play together as a team,” he said. 

Aside designing offensive and defensive strategies – working the Xs and Os – with his players, the internship has allowed McFadden to expand networking opportunities. He’s connected with other coaches in Chautauqua County, collaborating with them on coaching strategies and techniques and challenges they face, and also attending coaching clinics. 

McFadden has also gone beyond the internship by connecting with Fredonia State Men’s Basketball Head Coach Sean Smiley. He’s observed practices to see how they flow at the collegiate level while also learned new drills that he incorporated into his own team practices. Coach Smiley also answered his questions.

“I had asked him about a few drills at the practices that I attended and how they run the drills or plays. I think he understood that I am a young coach. I have determined what I want to do. He was nice enough to let me attend their practices,” McFadden said.

“Just building connections with other coaches, that will be a big help in the long run,” McFadden noted, as he looks to continue coaching as his career takes shape.

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