RaShawn Stores on the Manhattan Basketball team in 2015. GOJASPERS/COURTESY
By Caroline McCarthy, Senior Writer
Just days before the start of the 2022-2023 basketball season, Associate Head Coach RaShawn Stores stepped up for his alma mater’s program and took on the role as interim head coach of the Jasper basketball team. During the turmoil of both coach and player turnover, Stores focused on keeping morale high and placing the team’s fate in God.
“You know a lot of this was out of my control,” Stores said. “I just wanted to be around these young men and give them the best experience they could possibly have – especially through the adversity and all of the tough times they went through.”
Stores is a long-time Jasper. He started his journey in Draddy Gymnasium 10 years ago as a walk-on for the 2012-2013 team, where he earned MAAC All-Rookie Team honors. This team went on to win back-to-back championships in the 2013-2014 season and 2014-2015 season. Stores, a two-year captain of the squad, finished out his career on the court as a Lefty Driesell Defensive All-American in the 2015-2016 season.
“Coach Stores has always had an authentic relationship with the players on the Jasper squad,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marianne Reilly said. “There is a mutual respect between the players and coach. He knows the dedication and hard work that goes into being a student-athlete as a former Jasper.”
Stores was drawn to Manhattan College for the family-like atmosphere, naming his brother, Michael Alvarado, Rhamel Brown, Tyler Wilson and former head coach Steve Masiello as key people in his journey.
“We just became a brotherhood and a family,” Stores said. “Rhamel came back to help coach with me [because of this brotherhood].”
As a former player, Stores said he handled this year’s tribulations the way he would have wanted a coach to when he was on the team; saying the most important thing was to stay connected and have the best season they could possibly have. Stores says his biggest success so far isn’t any singular win, but seeing the team take on a new form.
“To see young men like Nick Brennan, Logan Padgett, Matt Glassman, Adam Cisse… a bunch of these young men that haven’t played big minutes get some confidence and you know, start making some plays and just seeing how happy they are [is my biggest success] this season,” Stores said.
Stores instills this confidence in his players with a positive mindset and daily habits that inspire a tough work ethic for his players.
“Everybody believes in everybody,” Stores said. “We have eight to ten to eleven guys that can play. And that’s how we’ve had success.”
Stores sees the opportunity to coach this specific team as a gift from God. Athletic Director U finds the average age of a Division I basketball coach is 42.6 years old. Stores is noticeably younger than his peers, and yet is producing big wins against top teams like Siena.
“I always say, keep God first,” Stores said. “I’m only 31. So I’ve been blessed. And just grateful.”
Stores has built an inseparable bond with these players. By bridging the relationship between peer and leader, while having experienced what it means to really be a Jasper himself, Stores inspired his team this season to strive for great things. So much so, that players are advocating on social media for Manhattan to “remove the interim title” from RaShawn’s name.
“RaShawn as a coach has been the best thing for our program,” Aryan Arora said. “As a second year player, I have seen a major change in everybody since last year.”
Arora says he feels many players were not used to their full potential last year, as the offense was dominated by one singular player.
“Coach Ray [RaShawn] has elevated everybody by embracing a team offense that gets everyone involved. We love playing for him,” Arora said. .
Stores changed the overall culture of the team this year. He’s been reported to be delivering Dunkin’ Donuts to different departments, forming supportive relationships with other teams at the college, serving food at Lockes, and talking to students on the Quad with his daughter. Stores says he does this to let students know he is a part of the community and was once in their shoes.
“We showed [the team] a video of how it was when we played to let them know like – get out there, see the fans, see the student body and get out there in the community,” Stores said. “When you show them love you get that love back. That’s what these young men are starting to realize.”
The Jaspers enter the MAAC Tournament this week with 12 wins and 17 losses, with two big wins against third seed Siena, and a close overtime match with rival Iona.
“He is the right man for the job,” Arora said. “The interim tag must be removed.”
And who might continue Stores’ Jasper legacy? Stores met the Assistant Head Coach of the Women’s Team, Callan Stores, when he started coaching for Manhattan. The two are now married and have a daughter who is known to make a cameo at Draddy every now and then.