After spending several years as a youth and AAU basketball coach, as well as the last few seasons as the junior varsity girls’ basketball coach at Fair Lawn High School, Rob Ledo wanted a new challenge.
“I felt like I was ready for the next step,” Ledo said. “And that was to be a head coach on the high school level. I was told by someone that if I really wanted to get my foot in the door, I had to get a head coaching job at a smaller school.”
So when the head coaching position with the North Arlington High School girls’ squad opened up, Ledo was quick to apply for it.
“It was a great opportunity for me to get in and see what I could do as a head coach,” said the 31-year-old Ledo, who works full-time as a supervisor for the Fair Lawn Parks and Recreation Department.
“I’ve put in a lot of time coaching boys and girls on the travel level, then girls AAU (for the Wayne PAL). I’ve been coaching all year round,” he said.
Ledo, a native of Ridgefield, said that he was knowledgeable about North Arlington sports from his high school days, when he attended Ridgefield Memorial.
“I’m aware of North Arlington’s previous successes in all sports,” said Ledo, who graduated from Ridgefield in 2001. “It wasn’t just girls’ basketball. I did my research before I went for the interview. I was also aware of what they did the last few years.”
The Vikings struggled a year ago to a 3-18 record.
“The Board of Education basically told me what their expectations are,” Ledo said. “They definitely want to see the program succeed. I’m a winner and I come here with that same mindset. We’re all on the same page. I’m completely aware of what has happened. But in my eyes, the past is in the past. I’m not worried about that.”
Since his appointment in June, Ledo has overseen regular workouts as well as monitoring the progress of the Vikings in the recently completed Kearny High School girls’ summer league.
“I expect to succeed right away and I explained that to the girls,” Ledo said. “We need to have that mindset. We have a team with a majority of juniors and sophomores, so we have a young team. They really dedicated their time over the summer and I think they’re beginning to see the potential that they have.”
Ledo said that he has been impressed with the Vikings’ talent level thus far. “I really do like what I see,” Ledo said. “We do have some good pieces to this team. I look at it like it’s a puzzle. We have an inside presence and some good guards. I just have to put the pieces of the puzzle together and have them put their trust in me.” Ledo attended East Stroudsburg University for a year, then eventually graduated from Rutgers in New Brunswick with a sports management degree. He interned at Fair Lawn and returned to work there after a year at Leonia.
Ledo has just one goal as he begins his new challenge at North Arlington.
“I just want to teach them fundamentals of basketball,” Ledo said. “We’re going to work on passing, shooting, the little details that are so important. That’s what we’re focusing on. I’m going to teach them how to play basketball.
They’re catching on. They’re understanding the way I want them to play basketball.” Ledo is pleased with the overall athletic ability of the Vikings. “They’re a very athletic group of girls,” Ledo said. “I can see they have put in the work to get better. They’re working on their fundamentals and I like that.”
Ledo said that he’s eager to begin working with his new team on a regular basis, other than outdoor workouts and summer league play.
“I’m very excited,” Ledo said. “This all came rather quickly for me. I’m still a young guy, but I have put the work in and deserved the chance to coach. I’ve been coaching year-round non-stop. I’m very excited to start implementing things I’ve learned over the years. I wanted to see what I can do as a high school coach. I think it’s going to be an exciting year. I want to see if I can right the ship a little bit and bring success back to North Arlington.”
Ledo said that he hopes to at least be very improved this season.
“We want to aim high,” Ledo said. “That’s the first thing, to be better than last year. Then we want to at least be .500 and be competitive, before we start aiming for titles. But I want them to come in with a good positive mindset more than anything. We will see what happens, but the summer workouts have been going well.”