Bemidji State Men’s Basketball Adds Two to Coaching Staff
Thursday, August 19, 2004
BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Bemidji State Head Men’s Basketball Coach Patrick Smith added two assistants to his coaching staff today, Gaston “Chachi” Rodriguez and John Cleaver. Rodriguez, who is a paid assistant, will handle the recruiting, academic counseling and player development while graduate assistant Cleaver will take care of some game preparation and player development.

“I really like people who are willing and enthusiastic to progress as coaches -- and I think these two (coaches) want to learn,” said Smith. “I know they can’t wait to get started at Bemidji State.”

Serving in coaching capacities at South Miami High School and Dade Community College in Miami, Rodriguez brings 17 years of various coaching and administrative skills. He was the assistant men’s coach at South Miami H.S. since 2003 and, prior to that, was the assistant for Dade C.C. from 2001-03.

Other coaching stops include head mentor at Champagnat Catholic High School (Miami) and La Progresiva Presbyterian School (Miami), assistant varsity coach at St. Brendan Senior High School (Miami) and camp instructor at the University of Miami and Marquette University. The Miami, Flor., native has held athletic director and assistant positions at several high schools as well.

“I have always been impressed with his (Rodriguez) love and passion,” said Smith. “The single most important thing you need to have in an assistant is recruiting and he has got a great eye for that and tons of contacts. He will bring a knowledge to find the players we need to be successful at Bemidji State.”

Cleaver arrives at BSU after wrapping up his bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. At UW-L, Cleaver was an assistant men’s basketball coach from 2001-04. Also, he was an assistant event manager in the athletic department and was basketball coach for various youth at the YMCA for two years. The Oshkosh, Wis., native was a summer league coach for the Oshkosh Lourdes High School squad in 2000. As a prep star at Lourdes, Cleaver was team captain of the 1999 WISSA Division II State Championship Team.

“Cleaver will do everything he is supposed to do including the long hours,” said Smith. “He falls into the category of guys who have knowledge, tremendous passion and love for the game. I am very impressed with him and what he will offer this team.”

Smith, who was appointed the 18th head coach on May 6, 2004, comes to BSU from Moberly Area Community College (Mo.) where he was head men’s basketball coach and athletic director for the past three seasons.

BSU opens up the 2004-05 season with an exhibition game against Grand Forks Air Force Base, Nov. 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the BSU Gymnasium.