Wally Bachman is a unique character, one who is known across Long Island for his passion for coaching.
In 2018, he was inducted into the Nassau County High School Athletic Hall of Fame, and he’s also a member of the New York Coaches Hall of Fame and the Jericho High School Hall of Fame. His success has come thanks to his due diligence on the sidelines, making sure his players are treated like adults.
The Tribune spoke with Bachman, a soft-spoken and charismatic man, who lives for basketball.
Q: What does it mean for you to know that you’re appreciated by not only those who played for you, but by your peers as well?
A: It’s been a great journey. My son went to NYU to play basketball, so that was a rewarding aspect. But we’ve built upon that. What do you ask of a high school coach who gets to go back where he played in high school? I was a three-sport athlete at Jericho. I got to come back to the community and coach, and there’s nothing better than that. If you stay around long enough and stick with it, good things happen. I’ve had a good run and I’ll keep coaching until they say I can’t.
Q: What inspires you to keep going?
A: My DNA, as a high school athlete and playing three sports, has always been high school sports. I had the opportunity to coach varsity football and I’m probably one of the few coaches on Long Island to win championships in four varsity sports. I won in football, baseball, basketball and soccer. I’ve been fortunate to meet some great high school coaches along the way.
Q: Who’s given you the best advice?
A: I’m in a basketball family. Rick Pitino [former NCAA coach] is my cousin and he went to St. Dominic High School [in Oyster Bay]. Our relationship together, I had the opportunity to leave high school and go to college many times. But I said no. I wanted to say with high school students. I didn’t want to go out on the recruiting trail. Rick Pitino was very influential in my early years. Hank Williams was the coach at Malverne High School and he had a great career, and he was a mentor. It’s my turn to give back to other coaches in Nassau County.
Q: How have things changed since you started coaching?
A: I’ve gone through a lot of different generations. Things have changed a great deal and I’ve adapted to the different types of players. The culture is entirely different today in basketball. Parents are much more involved today and in the past, that never took place. There’s a tremendous amount of parent pressure. They can say I’m old-fashioned, but I’ve learned to adapt to the different generations.