Kosciolek's love for hoops started early
Brett Kosciolek has vivid memories of himself flying down the court and dunking the basketball.
He can see himself taking hundreds and hundreds of shots in an attempt to perfect his jumper.
Kosciolek pictures those things like they happened yesterday.
But the dunks and jump shots that Kosciolek was thinking about weren't happening yesterday, or earlier this season, or even in the past year.
No, Kosciolek was reflecting back quite a bit further to his pre-school years. Back then, the court was a hallway in his house and the ball was a nerf.
"For as long as I can remember, I have loved shooting and handling a basketball," said Kosciolek. "Some of my earliest childhood memories are of me taking hundreds of shots with a nerf ball and hoop in my house. I used to play for hours."
Fast forward more than a decade and Kosciolek is now dunking and drilling jump shots with a regulation size ball on high school courts throughout the area. He is also still working at his game for hours at a time.
"It's almost second nature to me," said Kosciolek. "I love the sport.
"I like practicing. I like playing games. I like watching games. I really enjoy everything about it."
Kosciolek not only loves the game. He has excelled at it.
Only a sophomore, the 6-foot-8 Kosciolek was among the area leaders in just about every offensive category this season. He averaged 16.25 points per game (second in the area); hit 44 three-pointers (third in the area); and shot 72 percent from the free throw line (10th in the area). He also led Tamaqua in rebounding, averaging nearly 10 boards a game. In addition, he shot 48 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range.
But the most important numbers for Kosciolek weren't his points, or his rebounds, or his team-leading blocked shots total. For Kosciolek, the most important numbers were Tamaqua's wins and losses.
"Tamaqua had not qualified for the District 11 playoffs in a long time (since 2004)," said Kosciolek. "It was our goal this year to end that streak.
"Being able to win 14 games and qualify for the district playoffs was definitely the highlight of the season for me."
The individual numbers Kosciolek put up, combined with the team success that Tamaqua achieved, helped Kosciolek earn the 2013 TIMES NEWS Basketball Player of the Year award.
He becomes the first sophomore to win it in the 27-year history of the boys basketball award. Kosciolek is also only the third Tamaqua player to win the award, following in the footsteps of Ray Kinder (1988-89) and Joe Ligenza (1994-95).
"To win any type of individual award like this, you need great support from the team around you," said Tamaqua coach Caszy Kosciolek. "That was definitely the case this year.
"If we don't win as a team this year, then there is a very good chance that Brett doesn't get this kind of individual attention."
Coach Kosciolek, who also happens to be Brett's father, added, "the best players have a way of making the players around them better and Brett certainly did that this year. But at the same time, the players around Brett helped make him a better player."
While all players have to deal with coaching moves and coaching decisions that affect them during the course of their careers, most don't have to deal with the moves being made by their father.
For the Koscioleks, the father/son, coach/player relationship has gone off without a hitch during Brett's two years on the Tamaqua varsity.
"At practice and at games, Brett is just another one of the kids on the team," said coach Kosciolek. "With few exceptions, we don't discuss anything related to Tamaqua basketball from the time we leave the gym to the time we get back in the gym. I just don't think it would be fair to him or healthy for him to constantly talk about the team or his game when we're away from the court.
"I try to give him his space from 'coach Kosciolek.' When we're together at home it's a typical dad and son relationship and not a coach and player relationship."
Brett isn't quite as philosophic about the on court and off court relationship they share.
"Sometimes I'll call him coach at practice and sometimes I'll slip up and call him dad," said Brett. "But I don't really think about it too much. I enjoy playing for my dad. I think we both like it. It's been a lot of fun."
For Brett Kosciolek, the more things have changed, the more they have remained the same.
From being a toddler shooting a nerf ball from a couple of rooms away to being the tallest player on the court and drilling jumpers from well beyond the three-point arc, there have been two consistents for Kosciolek.
He has always worked hard enough to turn a kid's game into serious business and he has always had enough fun to turn the serious business into a kid's game.