In this interview, we delve into the history, current goals, motivation and future of Brandon Halal.
A Bay Area native who has been on several sides of the basketball court. From his on court experience, to his tutelage of young up and coming players, Brandon exudes a passion for the game, and a want to help grow the youth in an effort to better the communities his programs impact. Get to know Brandon Halal!
So Brandon, tell us about yourself:
My name is Brandon Halal. I was born and raised in the Bay Area (San Francisco) & currently reside in the East Bay (Pittsburg, CA). For those who don’t really know me, I didn’t start playing basketball until I was in 8th grade and my first sport was actually baseball which I played for 7 years. During the summer of 7th grade, I told my dad I wanted to try playing basketball because I would see it on TV often as both my parents were huge basketball fans. He agreed, and all I had to work with was a small garage, a 6 foot hoop & a driveway. I lived in Daly City at the time where it was always cold so I spent most of the time shooting in the garage. 8th grade year I tried out for the team at a private school in San Francisco and was fortunate enough to make the “B” team. I even won MVP that season which meant a lot to me because it was my very first year playing organized basketball. My work was cut out for me though, because I wanted to play in high school & I ended up attending my dad’s former high school where he played (El Camino High School in South San Francisco). Winter of 2008 comes, and I go to tryout for the JV team. A big factor back then when I was a freshman was that public high schools did not have a freshman team, only private schools did. So this meant if freshman wanted to play basketball, they had to make it on JV with the sophomores. Again being fortunate enough to do well in tryouts, I made it on JV with a couple other freshman friends. We all put in the work that first year to go on to our Sophomore year where we became the starters. We went on to be the best JV team in our county, which didn’t really mean anything because what mattered was varsity. JV season didn’t have any playoffs, so after our season the varsity coach asked me if I wanted to move up and play varsity for their playoff run. Who wouldn’t say yes? So I played varsity my Junior and Senior year and that experience is something I’d have to get into another time, but it was nothing short of amazing. We were the best varsity team in the county, we won the league championship, and qualified to play in the state tournament both years. During my senior year we went up against the likes of Aaron Gordon of the Magic, Marcus Lee who went to play at Kentucky, and a few other big names at the time who were swimming in scholarship offers. For me personally though, it was never really a goal to play college basketball so I just had fun and enjoyed playing basketball my last two years.
What lead you to start coaching?
What lead me into coaching was actually my Senior Project. I worked with a couple of friends at the YMCA and were given the opportunity to coach basketball with kids in Kindergarten & it has become my passion ever since. I really just love to help people, in any way that I can, whether it’s basketball related or not. In high school, I wasn’t the tallest. I wasn’t the most athletic and I definitely was not the best player on the team. What I was, though, was the best listener. I listened close to everything coach preached, I paid attention to every little detail, and I worked the hardest I possibly could. If I owe anything to anyone, I owe my high school coach so much because I learned so much about basketball playing for his program. I didn’t just play basketball, I started to better understand the game. After my Senior Project and working with the kids for a whole season, I thought to myself ‘I want to continue this coaching thing. I want to pass on all the basketball knowledge I’ve gained to help up and coming youth athletes.’ And so I did. After I graduated, I ended up going to community college and at the time a friend of my dad’s was holding youth clinics every weekend and had asked if I can help out. Helping out at his clinics every weekend definitely helped me learn more about teaching kids and I just loved it more the more I did it. I thought being able to teach kids the game of basketball was the best of both worlds. So I never tried to play college basketball and after my second year in community college, I went on a basketball hiatus for about a year until I was approached in the beginning of Summer 2017 about possibly coaching for an AAU program called Pride Basketball. Which lead me to what I do now! Keep reading to hear about my journey (: à
Tell us about your Hoop journey:
Ultimately, if I’m being completely honest, I agreed to start coaching for Pride because I just had to get out of retail. Although coaching and helping kids with basketball was my biggest passion, living out in the East Bay was tough for me. I didn’t really know anyone, I didn’t have any friends, and there really isn’t any basketball programs where I live that I could go and help coach. So at the time I was approached I was working at the Nike Store in San Francisco, and don’t get me wrong having that opportunity to work with one of the best and biggest sports companies in the world was an experience I would never forget. But for me personally, I just couldn’t handle working retail. So I ended up quitting Nike two weeks later and saw this situation as a new blessing and a new opportunity to do what I love and be involved in something I love so much: basketball. After a couple of months coaching the middle school team, I was blessed yet again to start up a 9U team where I would be their head coach. This is when kids start playing basketball, at the age of 8 & 9 in 3rd grade so to be given the opportunity to be their coach from the beginning, I couldn’t be anymore thankful. And that is why I am so passionate about this game and about helping our youth. I simply want to make a difference in their lives, whether it is on the court or off the court. I tell people all the time, if my kids learn something from me and remember me for something in their future, whether it is basketball related or not, I’ll be happy. In high school, I never had someone to train me outside of practice. I didn’t go to group workouts, I didn’t go to personal skills trainers. I honestly just had to learn most of the skills myself, along with some help from my dad and a few Youtube videos. (Lol!) So for me it’s all about giving back and giving these youth athletes an opportunity I didn’t have before. Only playing basketball in high school and never playing in college, I feel really blessed to still be in this position where I can really make a difference. It sounds really cliché that I say, but if I can do this then anyone can! If you have a passion for something, pursue that passion like you’ve never pursued anything in your life, and trust me when I say good things will happen so long as you believe.
Before I started coaching for Pride Basketball, our program has been up and running for about three years. As of now, we have teams ranging from 9-16 years old so we go from elementary all the way up to high school. Located in the Richmond CA area, we are fairly new, but we definitely have some good up and coming talent so I’m really excited for the future of this program!
What makes coaching fun for you:
Coaching and training kids is fun for me because I have that passion for both helping people and the game of basketball. Although some people tell me it’s my job, I really don’t consider it that because I have so much fun coming to the gym to coach practice or to train kids and get better. What’s also fun for me is that I’m still learning. So as I’m trying to better myself and help the kids get better at the same time, it’s a win-win situation!
What makes this hard for you:
What makes this hard for me: I’m still learning. Because it has only been a few months into coaching and training, I still have a lot to learn. Over the summer I’ve learned a lot, in terms of teaching the game of basketball and fortunately enough there are people I have reached out to who are willing to help in way that they can. It’s not easy and it definitely challenges me and pushes me to my limits but that’s also what makes this such an exciting opportunity. I recently just got into skills training with the kids so I’m really excited for what’s to come in the future. The journey here has been long, but it is definitely just the beginning.
Three hobbies outside of basketball:
My three favorite hobbies outside of basketball definitely has to be eating..(lol!) Whether it’s eating at my favorite spot 4 days in the week, or trying out different places I’ve never been to, I love to eat! Another hobby is watching TV. I love to stay home and just watch TV while I do homework and other things. Aside from basketball, two things I absolutely love to watch are WWE Wrestling (Yes, to this day I am still a huge WWE fan) so there’s a fun fact about me. The other show I love is Shark Tank! I’ve learned so much about business and investors just by watching this show so much. Being a big basketball fan, I think it’s cool that Marc Cuban is an investor on the show. I get a kick out of watching people pitch their business ideas in hopes to land a deal with the Sharks. Last but not least, I honestly just love to joke around and make people laugh. If I’m making people laugh, I’m happy! And that’s the reason why I love these things outside of basketball. They simply make me happy and they give my life a different dynamic where I can enjoy basketball and also enjoy these different things life has to offer.
I had an idea to host a shooting clinic, and at the time it was merely just that: an idea. Considered one of the best shooters in high school, I felt like doing this clinic could help showcase what I do and how I can teach as coach and as a trainer. So I tried my best to get the word out, and little by little more kids started to get interested. I had a few players from Pride register along with a few players from other programs. But it wasn’t a done deal just yet. As the date grew closer it was looking like I wouldn’t have enough players registered to make it happen. I pushed and pushed until two weeks before camp I was able to get enough kids to give it a go. And there it was, the very first SPLASH! Shooting Clinic. For being my very first camp, it was a huge success and it exceeded my expectations. My ultimate goal for the camp was just for the kids to really learn something and take away something from it, whether it was their basketball skills, listening skills, anything. Honestly I wouldn’t change a thing from that night. I feel the goal I set out was accomplished and I was extremely happy about that. If I could improve on one thing for the next one, though, would be the frills. I would want to try and create different drills for next time that way we can change it up and keep it exciting. All in all, I think it was a great experience for myself, the coaches, and all the young athletes in attendance. I look forward to doing it again!
For the kids who attended, I want to say thank you so much for the support, for working hard all night and making it a success. Without you guys, it wouldn’t have happened so thank you for coming out and giving me your best effort. Shoutout to all the parents as well! For those who may be interested in the next one, we definitely will have a lot of fun and we’ll make sure you guys learn how to #SPLASH
Advice to young hoopers:
Just Hoop! Don’t get caught up in rankings, highlight videos or anything like that. The best thing you can do is try to become the absolute best version of yourself and to do that, you have to work hard. If and when you become great, you well get recognized. Just remember to stay motivated. Stay faithful. And fall in love with the process.
For those of you that have read this and got this far, thank you and I hope I inspired you in some way. If you’re interested in playing for Pride Basketball, if you want to workout / train with me, hoop with me, or just talk hoop. You can text me at (415)-370-3510 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again for reading & hope you enjoyed! Remember: JUST HOOP! & don’t forget to subscribe and get all your basketball needs with Hoop Crate!