At 25, Steve Herman felt shunned. He had starred at Fordham Prep, played four years at Holy Cross and coached three seasons of JV at Stepinac. When he was passed over for the varsity post, Herman left coaching and lived a nomadic life, one that included a hand in restaurant ownership and 10 years trying to succeed as an actor.
Nineteen years later, Herman has a new perspective.
“I thought I was ready for the job, but looking back in hindsight, maybe I wasn’t,” the 44-year old said. “But I’m definitely ready now.”
Nearly two decades after their first brush, Herman was named the 11th varsity basketball coach in Stepinac history on Friday. He was picked among a trio that also included two Stepinac alumni: current JV coach Jason Douglas and current B team coach Pat Massaroni.
Herman moved to Stepinac after three seasons as the JV coach and varsity assistant to Kevin Pigott at Fordham Prep. The JV reached the CHSAA “AA” semifinals the last two years, but he saw the opportunity for a brighter future at Stepinac.
“I want to win a city championship and I think Stepinac’s a better place for me to do that than at Fordham,” he said.
The Manhattan native grew up in the Bronx and was a 1,000-point scorer at Fordham, where he is the fourth-leading scorer in program history. He also played for the famed Riverside Church, standing alongside iconic New York City stars Kenny Anderson and Malik Sealy, among others.
The 6-foot-5 Herman played under George Blaney at Holy Cross before Stepinac hired him as its JV coach at 22, fresh out of college.
From 1991-94, he coached JV teams that included Manhattan coach Steve Masiello and Tim Philp, who resigned on Apr. 16 after winning 135 games in nine seasons as the Stepinac varsity coach.
When Stepinac hired Ed Sands as its varsity coach in 1994, Herman left the area. He and friends opened restaurants in Charlotte and Atlanta. He later worked as an actor for 10 years, including appearances on “Law & Order” and “The Sopranos.”
“It made me a better coach,” Herman said. “I learned so much about the real world stuff and have been able to apply it to the program.”
Herman, who turned 44 Friday, intends to double-down on the style employed by Philp, who was named the league coach of the year this season when his guard-heavy team reached the CHSAA’s “AA” semifinals for the first time since 1986.
Herman intends to increase possessions by playing uptempo and expects his teams to shoot liberally from 3-point land.
“Coach Philp and I share the same DNA,” Herman said. “We’re not the same coach, we’re not the same people, but we think the same way.”