Todd Fazio resigned this week from his Mesa Red Mountain boys basketball coaching position, and, at the end of this school year, he’ll be done with teaching.
Watching a decline in skills from players entering high school, Fazio said he wants make an impact on players before they get to high school.
Along with former Scottsdale Christian and Northwestern standout Kevin Coble, they are starting a new venture called “Roots Hoops Academy” in the Valley.
“It’s a scary risk,” Fazio said. “But I want to make sure I do it right. The only way to do that is to use all my time for it.”
Fazio, who coached Scottsdale Desert Mountain to the state championship in 2007, said the program is modeled after what Phoenix College coach Matt Gordon does with Arcadia Youth Basketball.
“We’re not interested in hoisting trophies,” Fazio said. “We want to teach kids how to play and how to have fun. There has been such an emphasis on winning. You see a second-grade game, and they’re in a full-court zone trap to win. We want to focus on the process of getting better.”
Fazio led Red Mountain the past four seasons. Red Mountain had the most wins under him this season with 18.
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“I am proud of Coach Fazio for the difference he has made in the lives of so many young men and know he will continue to have a positive impact in our community,” Red Mountain Principal Jared Ryan said. “Todd Fazio would have been the coach at Red Mountain as long as he wanted.
“The basketball coaching world is watching one of the best step away from the game. I respect Coach Fazio as much as anyone I have had the pleasure of working with.”
Fazio’s dad coached youth basketball in the Midwest for 30 years.
He was Todd’s biggest coaching influence growing up, teaching team concepts.
“I’ve seen the skill level of incoming freshmen each year become not the same the previous year, not having the basic skills,” Fazio said. “It goes down to the youth level. There’s a lot of good youth programs and youth coaches. I think overall things can be better.”
He said the biggest change from when he grew up is the practice-to-game ration.
“A lot of teams will have one practice and play six or seven games on the weekends,” he said. “That’s part of it. You see a lot of dads coaching because they have to. I want to educate younger youth coaches, as well.”
He wants to reverse that ratio, but he says gym time is getting more expensive.
“Kids just need to more time working beyond skill development and not just individual,” he said. “There are good individual talent. But within the team concept, interacting with teammates, that’s important.
“I’ve had natural leaders. That’s something I really want to work on with younger kids, teaching them them how to lead, how to handle adversity, how to be coached hard at times.”