Joe Salerno of Barre, Vt., was named head coach and vice-president of player personnel on Wednesday.
"He'll be the main basketball decision-maker," said Duncan Shaw, co-owner of the "Island" squad. "There are a couple of things we like about Joe.
"One is he has experience in the Premier Basketball League (PBL), where the three founding teams (Halifax Rainmen, Saint John Mill Rats and Quebec Kebs) come from. He was very highly recommended from the owners of those teams that knew him from that experience. . .
"But we also really like that he is a small-town guy."
The 29-year-old Salerno has been coaching for 10 years, and has worked in the youth, high school and pro ranks in Vermont.
"I would call myself a players' coach," said Salerno. "One thing people have always kind of questioned is me being a bit younger, and I've had guys (playing for me) who have been the same age as myself.
"Understanding where they are coming from, how the game has evolved and changed slightly to the generation that is playing it now is something I'm comfortable with."
Salerno began his pro coaching career as an assistant with the now-defunct Vermont Frost Heaves of the PBL, and was promoted to head coach in January 2010 after the team started 0-3 (won-lost). Salerno guided the Frost Heaves to a 12-5 record that season. His overall professional record is 14-8.
"We wanted a coach with pro experience," said Shaw, who added Salerno's assistant coaches will be named in the near future. "We wanted someone who is going to fit in on P.E.I., and understand a smaller place, what it's going to take to network with the community and make a team work here. We are really thrilled to get him."
Familiar with small market
Salerno knows all about working in a small market. He noted the Frost Heaves were the PBL's smallest-market team.
"We were completely embedded in the community of Barre, Vt.," added Salerno in a phone interview from Bangor, Maine, where he is vacationing. "Being from a small market is something I'm comfortable with, and something that I'm used to. We'll certainly look to bring that to P.E.I.
"We feel this ("Island") franchise just isn't here to play basketball games, but to be there for the community, youth basketball, try to be role models for younger players and just let them know that pursuing the game of basketball is something that is possible."
"He'll be the main basketball decision-maker. There are a couple of things we like about Joe. One is he has experience in the Premier Basketball League (PBL), where the three founding teams (Halifax Rainmen, Saint John Mill Rats and Quebec Kebs) come from. He was very highly recommended from the owners of those teams that knew him from that experience. . . But we also really like that he is a small-town guy." - Duncan Shaw, co-owner of the "Island" squad
It was in the PBL that Salerno got to know NBL of Canada co-founders Andre Levingston and Ian McCarthy. Levingston owns the Rainmen, and McCarthy is president and general manager of the Mill Rats.
"Once I heard they were starting this league and putting the pieces together, I knew it was going to be a good thing," said Salerno. "I forwarded some resumés to a couple of potential teams, and heard back from Duncan as well as two other franchises that I had spoken with.
"But I had an interest in P.E.I., just based on the Island itself, and coming from a small market. That's what I'm comfortable with, and I know how successful they can be if the effort is put in."
Training camp will open in October, with the "Island" team's regular-season and home opener on Thursday, Nov. 3.
A look at Joe Salerno:
Born: Plattsburgh, N.Y., in 1981
Raised: Barre, Vt.
High School: Graduated from Montpelier High School in Montpelier, Vt., in 2000.
University: Attended Plattsburgh State University in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Earned a degree in Liberal Studies from Community College of Vermont in Bennington, Vt., in 2005.
Family: Married with one son, 15-month-old Camden. The family plans to relocate to Summerside in about a month.
Quote: "My wife (Darci) and I have done a lot of research on P.E.I. I have heard nothing but good things. It looks like a beautiful island. From what I hear the climate is similar to Vermont in the winters, but I'm sure it's a little cooler with that ocean breeze.
"I really can't wait to see Summerside and the rest of the Island. I know that this franchise is not going to be considered just something for Summerside - it's for the whole island of P.E.I. We look forward to reaching out to all the communities."