Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • November 30, 2021
Hawaii’s Chic Hess, A Former National JUCO Coach of the Year, Has A Passion For Giving Basketball Instruction

The emails come often.

They are about basketball and they are passionate, and they are sent by Hawaii’s Chic Hess.

He is a retired basketball coach, most notably at Arizona Western, who runs a player development program called Little Dribblers and Future Standouts that has been disrupted due to COVID-19.

And while in-person training has suffered, Hess continues to send out his weekly emails to those on his subscriber list, like he’s done for 20 years.

In his emails, Hess maintains contact with his players and gives some keen advice.

Chic Hess, accepting an award from the Hawaii House of Representatives for his work with Hawaii’s youth and athletes.

Here’s a sample of some things he has recommended or advised recently:

>> On talking while playing defense, he supplies a quote from Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers: “It is not difficult to play defense effectively without talking; it is impossible.”

>> Book recommendation about the importance of learning now to learn: “The Art of Learning” by Josh Waitzkin.

>> Book recommendation about coming back from hardships: “The Comeback Kid” by John R. Tunis

>> Simple shooting advice: “Keep shooting until it feels good,” sent along with a blank chart for players to measure daily progress.

>> Simple staying active advice: “Get out of the house with your ball and find someone to shoot with.”

>> Detailed advice on working out: “My experience has taught me that it is helpful to have a standard workout time and a place at which to do it. I recommend creating a schedule the night before, listing the skills you want to improve and the number of repetitions for each skill. Once it’s on your schedule, all you need to do is show up. If you don’t feel like working out, I recommend you do what I used to do when I was a teenager. Get your ball, go to the court, stand under the hoop, and begin taking a few shots from 2 and 3 feet out. Then add a couple little hook shots and try some mini turnaround J’s from 5 and 6 feet.  If after five minutes you still don’t feel like getting a workout, go home. Are you a loser yet? No, of course not. What always happens is this: A little psychological/physical ploy gets you into the flow, and soon your workout continues with increasing effort. If you want to be consistent, treat each workout as if it were a doctor’s appointment and SHOW UP.”

Hess continues to let his players know that his developmental program, with workouts Saturday at St. Anthony School in Kailua, will continue once COVID-19 finally subsides.

And Hess, who is recovering from knee replacement surgery, can’t wait to get back at it. In a 2012 Midweek article, Hess is quoted as saying, “I live for Saturdays.”

Hess grew up in Philadelphia and played high school basketball in Pennsylvania before playing at Trenton Junior College and East Stroudsburg University, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health and physical education. He then received a doctorate in education at Brigham Young University, and he served as the basketball coach at Brigham Young Hawaii and before that was also a highly successful high school coach in Pennsylvania.

Hess told Bedrock Sports Hawaii that a quote from a neighborhood player named Willie Hall in Harlem pretty much describes his own relationship with basketball: “There’s a love of the game in this city that is very difficult to put into words. You start off when you’re very young and you never get it out of your system. You might get married to a woman, but basketball is still your first love.”

He continued: “I’m often described as a recovering basketball addict who no longer is involved in pursuing winning championships, but advocating for helping kids succeed in life through sports, especially basketball.”

And he’s a basketball historian as well, having authored the book “Prof Blood and the Wonder Teams, The True Story of Basketball’s First Great Coach.” It’s about Coach Ernest Blood, who led Passaic High School in New Jersey to remarkable success from 1915 to 1924 and St. Bendedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., from 1925 to 1950.

Hess’ son Steve played on four Oahu Interscholastic Association championships in the mid-1990s under the legendary Kailua coach Pete Smith before going on to play for the University of Puget Sound.

In 1991 under Hess, Arizona Western went to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I basketball championship game, losing to Aquinas Junior College (Nashville) 74-68.

To join Little Dribblers and Future Standouts, you can reach Chic Hess by emailing

Click the link below for video highlights of the Arizona Western players and Hess from that 1991 season in which Hess was named the national junior college coach of the year.

AWC’S Run to the JUCO Title Game

ALSO AT Bedrock Sports Hawaii: Mid-Pacific Basketball Team Photo Tells The Story Of Lost Dreams And Future Resilience


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow us

Get the latest stories emailed to your inbox

Leadership coaching
Do you feel like an impostor being a leader?
Call Vince to book a free consultation.