Ask anyone about St. Francis College men’s basketball coach Glenn Braica and the same word comes up: “honesty.”
It’s not a trait all coaches have, but it’s served the Brooklyn native well. Now in his ninth year guiding the Terriers, he is a rare breed among college coaches in that he has spent his entire career in his hometown. And, while he is open to other opportunities in his profession, he isn’t actively looking.
“Some guys are in one job looking for the next job, and I’ve never done that,” Braica said. “For me, coaching is a calling.”
A calling that Braica fell into. A star at Queens College, he graduated in 1989 planning to become a teacher. A chance meeting with a former coach at a pickup game led to a part-time assistant gig at New York City College of Technology. From there, he jumped to St. Francis, where he was eventually promoted to top assistant under then-head coach (and current Terriers assistant) Ron Ganulin. In 2004, Braica’s college teammate and friend Norm Roberts got the head coaching job at St. John’s and hired the former as an assistant
“I needed a guy who would tell me the truth,” said Roberts, now in his second stint as an assistant at Kansas, emphasizing the last two words.
Although things didn’t work out with the Red Storm — Roberts was fired in 2010 — Braica wasn’t out of work for long. He quickly returned to St. Francis, where he has been ever since. So far this season, the Terriers are 12-7 and a contender for the Northeast Conference title.
“I always say, ‘We’re not the Yankees. We’re the Brooklyn Dodgers’,” said the coach, who ranks third in school history with 127 wins. “We’re underdogs, and I like that. But we have a good group of kids this year.”
Fifth-year senior guard and Staten Island native Glenn Sanabria is one of them. He believes the “hardworking, tight-knit” team reflects the values of its coach — one of the few who was truly honest with him coming out of high school.
“I was really impressed by how straightforward Coach Braica was with me and my family,” Sanabria said. “A lot of coaches will tell you anything because they want you to come to their school. Coach Braica wasn’t like that.”
Roberts, for one, isn’t surprised.
“That’s who Glenn is,” he said. “A lot of coaches wouldn’t want to work at a small school like St. Francis, but Glenn loves that place. It fits him to a ‘T.’ ”