Zachary Heeman Takes Over as Mount Olive Head Basketball CoachJan 08, 2022 10:51AM ● By Joe Nicastro
Photo: Marauder coach Zachary Heeman teaching his players the x's and o's
By Steve Sears
25-year-old Zachary Heeman has his dream job. He is the new head coach of the Mount Olive High School Marauders boy’s basketball team.
“Last season, I was the JV coach and varsity assistant, and then was able to step into the head coaching position this season,” says Heeman, who also served at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School as JV coach and varsity assistant as well. He takes the reins from predecessor, Mike Lupo.
Heeman himself played center for perhaps Mount Olive basketball’s finest hours under former head coach, Kevin Moore. “My basketball years were 2011 through 2014. We had a couple of really, really good teams. That was where coach Moore kind of took me under his wing as a mentor, and where I got my passion in terms of wanting to work in a school and college, and have that double effect on students,” says Heeman, who also works as a school counselor. “But we had some really good years. We had two conference championships from 2011 and 2012, and then we were fortunate enough my junior and senior year to win the Morris County championship in ‘13 and ’14.” Heeman scored over 1,400 points as a Marauder.
Heeman looks for consistency from his players and himself. “That's just being in the building, being consistent in practice, and being consistent in games, just in terms of a winning culture,” he says. “I think Kevin Moore laid a great foundation here, and I was able to be a part of some of those really good teams in terms of winning habits and winning cultures, both from players and coaches. I think in terms of the expectations, whether it's accountability, whether it's energy, or whether it's standards - all something that I was able to witness that a coach held everyone to, but also all the best players held each other to - I think that's the biggest thing that we're trying to get to, just a level of consistency.”
The Marauders own a 12 – 20 record from the past two seasons, something Heeman, a former Rutgers Scarlet Knight football lineman, would like to reverse. “We have four returning lettermen (guards Donovan Rauh and Tony Del Vescovo, and forwards Nico Del Vescovo and Sean Harris) who are seniors,” says Heeman, “but we also have three other seniors that we expect to have a big role for us. We have a heavy senior class: guys that have played, guys that are experienced, and guys that can play multiple positions.” Heeman is assisted on the bench by his assistant, Mike Radzieski.
Heeman, after a year of COVID-19, is also looking for the fan base to return. “If you have a team that's energetic and plays hard and hustles, there's a lot of people not only in this school, but in this town that rallies around it and comes to the games. It's quite an atmosphere. We're hoping that we're able to get our students in, and then just regular fans that are Mount Olive township residents. But it's going to be exciting, and I'm looking forward to this year, and hopefully we get all our fans back in.”
As a coach, Heeman’s desire is for his players to attain and enjoy the same winning experience he had as a Marauder, and he feels they are headed in the right direction. “There's a lot of goals on this team that’s driven by a senior class that's hungry for a successful varsity season.”