The first three years of men’s basketball head coach Jim Aller’s coaching career at ENC weren’t easy. Aller compiled a record of 19-55 and the Lions finished no better than 10th in the CCC during that time.

But this year, after an 18-9 record and with the Lions finishing in 4th place and competing in the CCC semifinals, Coach Aller was recognized as the Commonwealth Coast Conference Coach of the Year.

“I think any positive recognition is great for the program, but I did the same [things] as last year: It’s the same drills, the same hard work,” said Coach Aller.

Aller has been coaching for 20 years; the last four seasons spent as the head coach of ENC men’s basketball program. To him,  the ultimate goal is not just to win games, but also to bring the athletes and the athletic programs to a state of excellence.

“I want to continue to see the program improve. We had a good step forward this year; we want to continue it next year,” he said.

Coach Aller loves working with his players both on and off the court, and he’s glad that the ENC community supports his efforts.

“Here, the administration is so supportive of athletics. And the spirit of the students makes [ENC] a fun place to work.”

It was that very same spirit that made Coach Aller want to coach the Lions in the first place.

“When I played basketball at King’s College, ENC was such a fun rival. When I heard the [ENC men’s basketball] coaching position was open, I said I’d love to go there, so I did.”

While he enjoyed the many wins his team earned this season, it’s the everyday things that keep him going.

“The practice time, working on an offense or defense … It’s gratifying to see our work play out so well. To make an adjustment and have it work in a game is great.”

But coaching isn’t the only thing he does. In the offseason, he and a friend run a beach grill in South Jersey, and he and his wife, Faith, love to travel; they’ve been to Australia and New Zealand, but with a new baby at home, they’ll probably have to cut back on the traveling this summer.

Ultimately, Coach Aller is just happy to give back to the world by coaching. He remembers the basketball and baseball coaches who helped shape him as a person and he hopes that he is helping to shape the men at ENC, a place he calls “a diamond in the rough. I just wish more people knew about it.”

The biggest thing Aller wants to remember about this season is the huge support that came from the ENC community, especially during the last two weeks of the season.

“I’d just like to thank all the fans. It was a lot of fun for me and the guys, and hopefully we will continue it next year.”