Maestri to become Special Assistant at Texas A&M

Published 3:00 am Friday, May 20, 2016

Messenger Photo/Troy Athletics After stepping away from basketball in 2013, long time Troy basketball coach Don Maestri has accepted the position of Special Assistant to the head coach at Texas A&M University

Messenger Photo/Troy Athletics
After stepping away from basketball in 2013, long time Troy basketball coach Don Maestri has accepted the position of Special Assistant to the head coach at Texas A&M University

Former long time Troy Men’s basketball coach Don Maestri is heading to College Station, Texas, to join the coaching staff of the Texas A&M Aggies.

Maestri spent 31 years as Troy’s head coach, earning a total of 501 wins for the Trojans. He will be joining the Aggies staff as the special assistant to head coach and long time friend Billy Kennedy.

Maestri and Kennedy have been friends for many years. Both coaches have followed each other through the years, so when the Aggies had three positions open, Kennedy decided asked if Maestri would be interested.

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“It was spur of the moment. We have not really ever discussed any of it before. I have followed him over the years and we are both from New Orleans. We knew each other’s families,” Maestri said. “Everything just fell into place.”

The Aggies lost three assistant coaches to head coaching roles at other universities. Texas A&M made it to the Sweet 16 a year ago, but is saddled with the responsibility of replacing four starters.

Some of Maestri’s duties as coach will include scouting, film work and practice planning. Maestri will travel with the team on road games.

“It was a great opportunity for me and my wife Sharon,” Maestri said. “It’s also a great opportunity to get back into basketball a little bit. It’s going to be in a league (the SEC) that has really taken off.”

Moreover, he is joining a program at a major university – Texas A&M boasts a student body of 60,000 students – and deep traditions, from the code of conduct to the military influence to the famous 12th man.

Maestri retired as head coach of the Trojans in 2013 and even after 31 years on the bench, the transition into retirement was a smooth one.

“The first year I hardly watched basketball,” Maestri said. I kid people and say I haven’t lost a game in three years or lost much sleep. You’re not worried about the winning or the opponent or the recruiting. You don’t have to worry about it. It was really enjoyable to have the time off.”

Maestri admits that even though he has coached for as long as he has, there are still nerves about starting at a new school and coaching a new team.

“Anytime you take a new job, you want to do a good job,” Maestri said. “It’s not that you’re nervous, but you are a little anxious to get started. It’s exciting. Like any new situation you a little apprehensive, but you are a little excited.”

Maestri had many accomplishments while at Troy. His teams earned seven conference championships and made eight appearances in post-season tournaments. He was named coach of the year seven times and developed close relationships with the players he coached and mentored through the years.

Maestri took advantage of road trips and tournaments to places such as the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and New York City and made sure his players learned about the world around them.

“Nobody realizes the amount of fun that we had,” Maestri said. “We went to Alaska and San Diego. We went to Buffalo and went to Niagara Falls. We always tried to do something with the team … we felt the team should be exposed to things on trips that we took. We went to the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. We wanted our players to see these things.”

The thing Maestri will remember the most about his time in Troy was the connection he had with the school and the community.

“We made so many good friends and close relationships with the faculty at Troy University, the city, the business people and the students,” Maestri said. “We felt that we needed everyone to be involved for us to be successful. When we would win everybody would feel like they made the wining play, which is what we wanted.”

And he expects those close relations to continue, no matter the distance between Texas and Troy. “Those relationships will go with us,” Maestri said. “I’m sure they will feel that they can send a play to Texas A&M on a Village Coffee napkin.”

Maestri will head to College Station following the Memorial Day weekend and help with various off season camps that will be held. Once the season starts Maestri will be knee deep in coaching and developing, although he promised it would from his chair and not as he paces up and down a sideline.

“I am going to keep my fanny on the bench and clap,” Maestri said. “I will not be the one standing up. I will be the one sitting down. It’s a new role, but it’s not a difficult role. I wasn’t much of standing guy anyway.”