Christy Selagy (@ChristySelagy)
When John Seidman began his first year at Haverford High, the boys basketball team was coming off a 2016-17 season where they hadn’t won any Central Athletic League games, and went 2-20 overall.
With Seidman on the varsity squad as a freshman in 2017-18, the Fords started on the road to improvement, going 8-15 (6-10). The team posted a winning record the following season and made it to the Central League playoffs. In 2019-20, they won their first Central League title in 50 years.
John Seidman (above) has been one of the best players in Haverford High history in his four years. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The COVID-19 pandemic limited Haverford to just 14 games this season, but the Fords again posted a winning record and were the No. 13 seed in the District 1 playoffs. And it’s no coincidence that the Fords’ turnaround started when Seidman joined the team.
“His leadership has been great the four years he’s been here. He really put our program on the map,” said head coach Keith Heinerichs. “Haverford basketball had growth and a change in people wanting to come to the gym and a lot of that had to do with John Seidman. They wanted to come watch us because of John.”
The 6-foot-3 guard has been outstanding for the Fords, earning his place in Haverford history as the third highest scorer in program history (1,080), one of only five 1,000-point scorers, and a two-time first team All-Delco selection.
Seidman’s first All-Delco honor came after his junior season, when he averaged 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3 assists per game, the first time a Ford had been named to the first team since Jim McMahon in the 2001-02 season.
Seidman earned all-Delco honors again following a senior year where he averaged 14.6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. That selection marked the first time a Haverford player has earned the honor multiple times since Larry Davis did it in 1976-77.
Given that Seidman had an historic high school career, it’s fitting that he’s headed to a school with a rich basketball history. In mid-March, he committed to Franklin & Marshall.
Seidman drew the interest of a number of D-III schools, as well as a few D-II programs, including an offer from University of the Sciences. But, when he went to visit F&M, Seidman knew it was the place for him, even with the campus quieter than usual with COVID-19 restrictions. The Lancaster (Pa.) school’s reputation for strong academics was also important—although he’s not yet sure what he’ll be majoring in, the school’s variety of programs a draw for Seidman, in addition to the storied basketball program.
“I had been talking to them for a while and they kept showing interest and I really thought it was the best place for me,” Seidman said. “When I went out to visit, I really liked it … I really think it was the people. I talked to a couple players on the team and I really liked how they described it and the way they talked about it. … It just kind of seemed like everything I wanted.”
Seidman (above) will spend his college years playing for a school with a deep basketball history. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The Diplomats’ head coach Nick Nichay is relatively new to the position, although he had been an assistant under the legendary Glenn Robinson for seven years.
Robinson had served as head coach of the Diplomats for nearly half a century, posting 967 wins, the most of any D-III coach and third all-time across all divisions of college ball. In his 48 seasons at the helm, Robinson led the Diplomats to the NCAA’s Division III Tournament 25 times, including five trips to the Final Four.
“It’s really interesting because there’s so much [history],” Seidman said. “So many great players have gone through, so many great teams. I wanted to be able to step in and be a part of it.”
Nichay was named the interim head coach less than two weeks before the 2019-20 season began. F&M went 11-14 (7-11), winning three of its last four but missing out on a spot in the Centennial Conference Tournament.
Nichay was elevated to head coach in May 2020, though the COVID-19 pandemic prevented his team from playing this past season. He had also assumed head coaching duties for the beginning of the 2018-19 season when Robinson was on medical leave.
With a new head coach who understands the importance of the program’s history, Seidman will be looking to leave his mark in the Diplomats’ new era, just like he did at Haverford, in more ways than one.
“Whether you were a freshman or you were a senior, no matter what year John was in the program, he treated the players with such respect and was such a great teammate,” Heinerichs said. “He was one of the best teammates that I've had in a program that made every kid feel like they were important. Whether he was playing pickup with them or practice with them, he wanted everybody to get better. He had a tremendous way about him that just was a pleasure to be in his company.”
Heinerichs sees a ton of potential for Seidman at F&M, particularly because of his ability to play multiple positions. Similarly, Seidman doesn’t have any expectations on what his role will be—he just wants to contribute.
“I really just like to think that I'll help out wherever I can,” Seidman said. “Just do whatever they ask. It really depends on what they need from me, and I think I can fill the role, hopefully, or at least try my best.”