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The Heroes of 2020
When he first got wind of the opportunity to join the staff of an expansion professional basketball team in Canada, Steve Marcus knew next-to-nothing about Newfoundland and Labrador.
"I had no idea where even St. John's and Newfoundland was," the 28-year-old American admits.
Ultimately, the young coach, now entering his first training camp as head coach of the St. John's Edge, is happy with the decision he made.
"I've fallen in love with the place since I've been here," he says.
Marcus had past involvement with teams at the NCAA and NBA G-League levels (the equivalent of what the AHL is to the NHL) before deciding to take a chance on the Edge. He's been part of the Edge's coaching staff from the start, initially serving under head coach Jeff Dunlap in Season 1 and then Doug Plumb last season. When Plumb unexpectedly left the team with two games to go in the regular season, Marcus took over as head coach and guided the Edge to a pair of playoff series wins before they lost to the Moncton Magic in the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) final.
He's enjoyed moving up through the ranks with the team and is excited about the new season, which starts on the road Dec. 27 with a rematch against the league champions. The Edge's first home game (not including a Dec. 15 pre-season game against the Magic) is Jan. 7 versus the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans.
"It just shows that hard work is still rewarded," he said. "I've worked my way up from year one to last season and to where I'm at now. ... I didn't change who I was as a person. I just tried to be as good of a guy as I could have been and it paid off in the long run. I'm fortunate for the opportunity and thankful to ownership, but also to the city of St. John's for believing in me and getting behind our team last season when I took over."
From season to season, a lot of players come and go from teams in the NBLC. The Edge as of The Telegram's print deadline had only two returning players signed from the 2018-19 roster — Junior Cadougan and Murphy Burnatowski. Now entering his third year in the league, Marcus knows what needs to be done when it comes to bringing in new players, many of whom are new to professional basketball.
"You no longer have to go to class and be in study hall and things you used to do at college. Now these guys know it's their job. They're getting a paycheque to be a basketball player and represent the organization as well as they can on and off the court. I think when training camp starts, we're just going to dive right into it."
1. What is your full name?
2. Where and when were you born?
I was born in Springfield, Massachusetts 1991.
3. Where do you live today?
I live in St. John's during the season, but in the off season I split my time between Boston and Winsted, Connecticut.
4. What is your favourite place in the world?
Highland Lake, the lake that I live on during the summer in Winsted, Connecticut. It's fun. We have a good time. My mom's side of the family is all up there. My family is really important to me and all my cousins and all their little kids.
5. Who do you follow on social media?
On Twitter and Instagram, I really only follow people I know. I don't follow many celebrities or things like that. I follow a couple of ESPN and college basketball and NBA writers, but I really only follow my friends and family.
6. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I love Broadway musicals. My favourite is probably "Les Misérables" or "Phantom of the Opera." Wicked. Those are some of my favourite plays. But I love Broadway music, and music like that. I can't sing at all. I try to maybe when I'm in the shower, but I can't sing at all.
7. What was your favourite year and why?
My favourite year is the year I'm in right now. I'm living in the moment.
8. Can you describe one experience that changed your life?
In 2017, I had a bunch of friends who worked with Adidas and were high up with Adidas college basketball and got in trouble with this pay-for-play scandal with the FBI and NCAA. That's really why and how I ended up in Canada. I was working with Adidas at the time and lost my job, and coach Dunlap gave me the opportunity to come up here after that. I would say that's something that has changed my life — seeing some of my friends lose their jobs and have to go to prison for that was something that really hurt me.
9. What is your greatest indulgence?
Can it be a candy? I like Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish. They're probably my two favourite candy that I eat too much of.
10. What's your favourite movie and book?
My favourite movie is "Titanic." My favourite book is "The Miracle of St. Anthony" (by Adrian Wojnarowski). It's about the St. Anthony High School basketball team in New Jersey.
11. How do you like to relax?
I love my alone time. I like going home and being alone and listening to music and podcasts and just kind of unwinding from the day. Basketball takes up a lot of my life and my time during the day, so when I go home I try to unwind for 90 minutes or two hours and not think about basketball. I'll unwind with a podcast about baseball or football or a podcast about real estate. Just something to get my mind off basketball before I go to bed.
12. What are you reading and watching right now?
I am currently not reading anything, but I need to. I probably haven't started a book in the last four to five months. I'm currently watching a Netflix series called "Designated Survivor."
13. What is your greatest fear?
Letting my family down.
14. How would you describe your personal fashion statement?
Not very good. During the games I wear suits, and outside of that, I'm usually in sweatpants and a hoodie. I don't tend to dress up a lot. I don't have the best style, but if I do dress up, it's usually jeans and a sweater or something like that.
15. What is your most treasured possession?
Probably my college diploma. I was a journalism and sports communications major. I graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014.
16. What personality or physical trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
My mom is probably one of the funniest individuals I know. I probably got that from her. I've never really walked into a situation and had it be awkward, because I always just lighten the mood. Just my mom's sense of humour and my dad's integrity. My dad is probably the nicest human being I know.
17. Which three people would join you for your dream dinner party?
Mike Tyson, Jesus and Leonardo DiCaprio.
18. What is your best quality?
I don't change. I am who I am. Becoming the head coach hasn't changed who I am. The success I've had at basketball hasn't changed me and who I am. I'm just a regular guy from Springfield, Massachusetts who loves basketball and has been afforded the opportunity to coach basketball all around the world. I haven't changed who I am and haven't changed my morals or core values.
19. What is your worst quality?
My worst quality is I have a hard time telling people no.
20. What's your biggest regret?
My biggest regret is not getting a master's degree or doing graduate studies. Something maybe in business or communications.