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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Inside the mind of Billy Lange

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PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Billy Lange is entering his third year as head coach of the men’s basketball team for the 2021-2022 season. The Hawk sat
down with Lange to discuss his coaching roots, his goals for St. Joe’s and his life as a Division I basketball coach.

The Hawk: I heard that you might have made your coaching debut as an eighth-grader coaching a sixth grade travel team. Is that correct?

Lange: That’s correct.

The Hawk: Do you still have memories from that experience? If you do, what stands out?

Lange: I had a sprained wrist, so I was unable to play in our game that night. The parent who coached the sixth grade team could not make their game. Timmy Lenahan, who was a huge coaching mentor of mine, asked me if I would mind coaching the team. So one of the other parents drove me over to the game. I remember winning and it was just an addictive feeling at that time. I had no idea what I was doing, but it felt natural.

The Hawk: Was it that experience that led you to develop a passion for coaching?

Lange: I think it started before that. My father was a high school basketball coach, so growing up I tagged along to a lot of his practices. Being in the gym with those players, they were like NBA players to me. I was around my dad and I saw the relationships that were built. Probably around the age of seven or eight or nine, I had the feeling that this is what I
wanted to do.

The Hawk: Leadership is embedded in coaching. What does leadership mean to you and how do you lead to get the
most out of your players and staff?

Lange: For me, the understanding of leadership is dynamic. It’s ever changing. I think that at the core of leadership should be authenticity and servanthood. You start with just being who you are and making it about everybody else. After that, for me, it’s about learning your people. You have to know an audience to lead an audience and the audience changes from person to person and year to year.

The Hawk: It seems like what leaders ultimately want to accomplish is to empower those around them to have success. How do you define success?

Lange: I’m in a results oriented profession. There’s a verdict on everything I do every single day. I’ve been upfront about my goal here at St. Joe’s: to win a national championship and if not, build on the tradition that makes it a perennial program that is looked at in that light. Behind that is seeing people develop individually and collectively, to understand sacrifice. I also think it’s connecting our program with the university. I think the health of our program and our university are synergistic. Watching our coaches grow into leaders as men and women, those are the things that I would equate to success.

The Hawk: You mentioned sacrifice. What are some of the sacrifices that you have to make as head men’s basketball
coach that people may not see or not think about?

Lange: I lose time with my family and friends. I don’t try to fight it anymore. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. This is a profession that I’ve been called into and it demands my time towards other people. It’s in a good way; these [players] are entrusting their holistic development through a university, and in particular a basketball program. And at St. Joe’s, this job is such a high profile part of our university that I have to sacrifice my own ego to allow other people like my assistants to develop and become CEOs of their own roles.

The Hawk: If you ever do get to have downtime, what are some hobbies or activities you enjoy doing?

Lange: I love to read. I love to be at a beach. You can put me anywhere in the world and as long as there’s a beach, I’ll be thrilled. I love to spend time with my family. My wife is my best friend and I love being around her. I love my children. Being at their games or events or just sitting at a table chatting it up with them is one of the most fun things for me.

The Hawk: It’s only your third year here. Are there any parts of the university that you’re looking forward to experiencing more now that things are getting back to normal?

Lange: One of the great parts about working at a college is there’s just an energy. When I leave in the afternoon or evening, just seeing students around is great. I love the walk through the center of campus through Drexel Library. I just love the aesthetics of Drexel Library. I love going into Campion. Just seeing everyone is fun for me. There’s so many first class, ambitious people here with high aspirations. There’s an authenticity here that you just don’t get everywhere. When I walk across campus, I feel that.
You know, last year wasn’t normal and even the first year wasn’t normal. So I feel like I’m just getting started. I’m as energized and refreshed as I was as the day they told me they wanted me to be the coach.

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