Churnac Named Permanent Men’s Coach At Jamestown CC

Churnac Named Permanent Men’s Coach At Jamestown CC

Article copied from Jamestown Post Journal (http://www.post-journal.com/sports/local-sports/2019/03/interim-tag-removed/)

Xavier Churnac appeared on the Jamestown Community College campus for the first time just days before the start of classes in 2010. Born in Jamaica and raised in New York City, he was recruited to play basketball here, but that was all he knew about the school in the western Southern Tier.

"I didn't know what I was walking into," he said.

Churnac sure does now.

After serving as the interim men's basketball coach for the 2018-19 season, Churnac had that title removed Wednesday and was announced as the permanent head coach at a press conference at the Physical Education Complex. Jim Rissel and Travis Muntz will remain as assistant coaches.

"It feels good that there are people around me who believe in me, want me here, support what I've done this past season as interim coach and believe that moving forward I can do even better," Churnac said.

Churnac, 26, took over the program in November when George Sisson stepped down to become the school's director of athletics and recreation. 

"X has created the opportunity to have this opportunity," Sisson said. "It's good to be able to be in the position to help one of your own people. I think this is a great time for him to figure out whether this is what he wants to do with his life. He has the support structure with the institution."

After three-plus years as an assistant under Sisson, Churnac, who will retain his full-time job as resident director at Hillside Suites West dormitory, guided the Jayhawks to a 12-15 record, losing in the NJCAA Region 3 Division II semifinals.

"I'll call it a roller-coaster ride," Churnac said. "What I remember most is how we finished the season. That last 2 1/2 weeks I was very proud of how the guys responded. We went up to Monroe for the last regular-season game and we didn't really show up."

Churnac added: "We weren't playing hard. Three days later we had to go up there again, and we got a win in a gym that we hadn't won in in God knows how long. That motivated me and I was more confident going into the regional (semifinals)."

The Jayhawks ended up losing to Niagara County CC, but the game wasn't decided until the final moments.

"He has definitely grown," Sisson said. "He has grown in the way he's handled people, he's grown in his preparation and his understanding of details and I think he's grown as a person who is willing to listen."

Churnac's journey to get to this station in his life has been pretty impressive, too.

Recruited by Bryan Hodgson — then an assistant to former Jayhawks coach Mike Cordovano and now an assistant at the University at Buffalo — Churnac was an NJCAA Region 3 Division II first-team choice after his sophomore year, earning him a scholarship at Division II Edinboro University where he graduated in 2014 with a degree in communications. But Churnac's basketball success — from his formative years in the Big Apple to yesterday's announcement — are merely a byproduct of his perseverance.

Inspired by his single mom, Judith Kennedy, Churnac overcame financial and academic hurdles to earn associate's and bachelor's degrees; and served as a resident assistant at both Jamestown CC and Edinboro. He joined the men's basketball coaching staff as an assistant in the 2015-16 season when the Jayhawks made it to the Region 3 Division II title game before bowing to Monroe CC in a close one.

Three years later, Churnac is the face of the program.

"I definitely didn't see it happening this soon," he said. " … I've had a lot of change in my life, I've been thrown in the fire in a lot of situations growing up, so I knew I would be able to figure it out. I became a little more confident as the season went along (this year). It started to feel natural to me. Being here now, it feels good. I know exactly how I want to do things and how I want to run the program. Having (Rissel and Muntz) around me is going to help me just as much."

First on the staff's agenda is recruiting. Churnac has already been to Buffalo in search of players and has a trip planned to New York City in a couple weeks. 

"I've been on the phone and texting pretty much every day since the season has ended, just trying to recruit the right guys, the high-character guys that want to play hard and want to do well academically and athletically. I'm really trying to focus on those things."

Once he makes a connection with a potential recruit, Churnac will be sure to share his story and what Jamestown CC has meant to him over the last nine years.

"It was life-changing for me," he said. "When I'm on the phone with recruits, I tell them this was the best decision I've made. My mom threw me on the bus to come up here, and it was something I would never regret. It was the best decision. It's paying off, and it's going to continue to pay off.

"It's about keeping the faith. God knows what he's doing. Just follow the schedule."

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