When the name Paul Hewitt is mentioned anywhere on campus, most Tech students immediately think about the illustrious basketball coach. However, Hewitt’s career was not always geared towards basketball. Rather, it took a high school bet to change his life.
“I was a baseball player up until 10th grade, and someone bet me [that] I couldn’t make the JV basketball team for a Burger King Whopper,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt won the bet, and has been in the world of basketball ever since.
Although this year’s basketball season ended early for the Yellow Jackets after losing to Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, Hewitt’s work was far from over. Rather, he attended the Final Four as a member of the coaches’ convention there. In addition to his duties as coach (such as practices, training, etc.), Hewitt is also responsible for recruitment, academic advising, and personal counseling throughout the course of the year.
“[Former coach of the Chicago Bears George Ravlin] said, ‘There’s always something you can be doing to improve your program and your players.’ In college basketball, there’s always something. As opposed to say pro-basketball, where you can only practice so much, or you can only watch so much film on your team. In pro-basketball, there’s no recruiting, there’s no academic advising, there’s no personal counseling of your players. In college basketball, there’s always something that you can do to help your players and improve, fundraise, just any number of things you can do,” Hewitt said.
Since playing for St. John Fisher College, he has gone on to serve as head coach for Siena College and Tech. In his ten year career as a college basketball coach, he has taken two teams to compete at the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) and five teams to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament. Hewitt even took the team to its first championship game for the NCAA Tournament, losing to the University of Connecticut by a mere nine points. While Hewitt has served Tech for only seven years, he has revitalized the basketball program into one of the top in the nation. However, with that prestige comes hard work.
“[Passion is] everything that goes into [basketball]. Everything you realize. Again, everything from the recruiting of the players, to the counseling of the players, to the coaching of the players, to the personal relationship you build with them. When you put that much into it, that does create a higher level of passion for good results,” Hewitt said.
While the madness of college basketball season has wrapped up, Hewitt’s whirlwind of a life is far from a standstill. Life with Hewitt not only means athletics, but also being husband for his wife and a father for his three daughters.
“My kids. I’ve got three kids. Thirteen, twelve and nine, and I spend a lot of my free time going to see them involved in different things. My youngest Kayla plays soccer. My oldest is involved with volleyball and track and field. My middle one plays the piano. So you spend a lot of time with them, especially this age. That’s one of the reasons why I like college basketball, because while it’s busy, and you do have a lot of things to do, you do get a chance to go home at night and see them before you go off on your next trip,” Hewitt said.
Home for Hewitt is far from the world of basketball as it is at work. Rather, he contends that with three daughters, not all of them are involved in basketball. “My little one likes to play basketball. The older two [are] not that much into it. The little one watches the game. She’s more of the sports fan,” Hewitt said.
Throughout the last decade and a half, Hewitt has developed into a successful basketball coach and dedicated family man. Although the last few years for Hewitt have changed career-wise and family-wise, Hewitt still stays true to his values and virtues of constant improvement.
“Don’t ever sit back on your laurels and don’t ever let failure stop you from trying the game… you should know failure, and recognize failure,” Hewitt said.