After struggling for an impressive record the past few seasons, Men’s Basketball is under new leadership. Head Coach Mike Rejniak has worked with teams at Amherst College, Plymouth State University and The College of New Jersey, bringing with him seven years of Div. III coaching experience.
“He was by far the most prepared person for this process that we’ve encountered in any search that we’ve done,” said Athletic Director Stuart Robinson. “He had taken the time to really know this campus. He really understood where the college was, where the college wanted to go athletically, where it wanted to go academically, what were its strengths, what were its challenges, he really took the time to do that.”
Rejniak has led teams to championships and helped them gain national recognition as an Assistant Coach. By working under legendary coaches and with reputable teams, he has gained the experience it takes to elevate the standard and reputation of the New Paltz Men’s Basketball program.
“I had the opportunity in my career to move up to Div. 1 and do that route, but I’m a D. III guy,” said Rejniak. “At D. III we get really blue collar type of kids that have other aspects— they’re not so focused where basketball has to become a job.”
Rejniak is excited to help the team and program to succeed and promises to work the players as hard as it takes to ensure success.
“This school is such an unbelievable sleeping giant,” said Rejniak. “–and a place where I can make my mark.”
Men’s Basketball has been let down in the past by a promising beginning that waned down to an average season by spring and upperclassmen are hoping they can come out on top this year.
“It’s a great sort of challenge because I think here they have all the tools, they’ve just never been implemented before,” said Rejniak.
Rejniak came to SUNY New Paltz to build a program. Though he has been offered opportunities elsewhere, he intends to stay at SUNY New Paltz and awake this sleeping giant.
“Some coaches think short term and I think Coach Rejniak definitely wants to win this year,” said fourth-year guard and Captain Harris Wichard. “But by hiring coach Rejniak, I think it’s setting New Paltz up for success for a long, extended period of time.”
Third-year Guard and Forward Matt Devine said Rejniak is building a team based upon discipline and chemistry. Devine also said that the combination will hopefully help New Paltz see a winning season this year and grow an impressive reputation both athletically and academically.
“The winning spark is in the pre-season now so I think he’s a real help already from just only being here for a couple weeks,” said Devine.
The ambition is obvious as the team has come together and weathered a stricter, more intense pre-season to hopefully become the best the school has seen in a while.
“I think we’re just being held to our highest standard,” said fourth-year guard Jermaine Wallace. “This year if you’re coming a minute late, he’s holding you accountable for it.”
The dedication Coach Rejniak requires of his players is demanding. The team is boasting an average of six training sessions per week including lifting and basic skills. They come together two or three times per week to play together as a team.
“Everyone’s really impressed by his no-crap attitude,” said Wichard. “He’s very strict, very old fashioned and he doesn’t really take any excuses. I’ve been really happy and impressed by his attitude and I’m really looking forward to playing under him.”