When Carlito Labarda, the Saints men’s basketball lead assistant, took a job as a head coach at Eastern Oregon University during the offseason, Carroll had a vacancy to fill.
Assistant coach Jesse Repay, who is a cousin to head coach Carson Cunningham, is filling the void.
“I would say probably more than anybody else that has come here and worked under Carson, I’m probably the luckiest person to have him as a cousin, so I’ve been able to see him develop as a high school player to a college player to a high school coach and now a college coach,” Repay said. “Now I get to work with him and be his colleague.”
Repay served as an assistant last season, his first at Carroll and in the college ranks. Prior to Carroll, Repay coached as a lead assistant in Tampa, Florida, for three years. Coaching at the college level was a new challenge last year, but not one that was totally unfamiliar to Repay. The Indiana native played collegiately at NCAA DII school St. Joseph’s College.
“I never had the responsibilities I have now,” Repay said.
As lead assistant, Repay will have duties akin to a director of basketball operations at larger universities. He’ll tackle logistics, whether it’s scheduling shoot-arounds, setting up practice and travel itineraries, booking reservations for meals and lodging when necessary, etc. Repay also delegates in-practice responsibilities to the other assistant coaches, Scott Menzies and Hasani Simmons.
Beyond that, Repay says each day is about being available to the team and learning as much as he can. When players want to schedule 1-on-1 workouts, it’s up to the assistant coaches to be in the gym with them. The role is simply making life on Cunningham much easier.
“He’s great at all of it, but he’s really good as a coach and as a mentor and play guy and he’s really good at scouting teams,” Repay said. “We want to take as much pressure off of him as possible.”
In game, the assistants are responsible for taking stats and ensuring the team’s intensity and energy levels are up to snuff.
Repay will also have a bigger role with recruiting as Labarda did. Repay, who spends summers in Florida, said he’s dialed into the talent pool there, but he’s yet to go through the whole recruiting process with a potential signee.
“I’m doing a lot of learning,” Repay said. “Really, I'm trying to learn that aspect of it.”
Repay, whose goal is to one day be a head coach, is excited about more hours dedicated to the program, and the additional responsibilities that come with his new gig.
Menzies is shouldering more the load this year, too. Menzies assumed some of Repay’s duties from a season ago, which for him means more scouting. The Helena High graduate also one day seeks to be a head coach, and relishes his opportunity to be more involved with the Saints.”
“Whatever they need me to do,” Menzies said. “Jesse is doing a great job of it. He’s doing a lot of the non-basketball stuff. I’m focusing more on the basketball stuff. Hopefully we’ll all be able to help with that.”
Menzies particular looks forward to scouting players’ tendencies and relaying them to the Saints players.
“It’s cool having a little bit more responsibilities and stepping up,” Menzies said. “Carlito left some big shoes to fill. Jesse is doing a good job, and I’m trying to chip in with the other pieces.”
So who is going to fill perhaps the most important role: yelling as loud as Labarda did?
“Nobody can fill that role,” Menzies said. “My voice has been hurting the last few days.”