Brian Kriftcher has a law degree and worked on Wall Street for 20 years, but he wasn't totally satisfied. He had a passion for basketball and an even greater passion for working with kids. In 2006, he left his successful business to focus full-time on coaching youth basketball. After three years as a coach at Westhill High School, Kriftcher is taking the reigns as head coach of the boys' varsity basketball team at St. Luke's School in New Canaan.
"I'm in a very fortunate position to be able to dedicate myself to this," Kriftcher said after a recent game. "But it's not about me, I assure you. It's about [the kids]."
Kriftcher played basketball in high school and in college for SUNY Albany. More recently he played for the medal-winning 35-and-older Team USA Master's squad at the Pan Am Games and the Maccabiah Games.
When the call came with the offer of coaching at St. Luke's, it was, as Kriftcher put it, "a no-brainer." He is also taking over a successful team from outgoing coach Kevin Anthony instead of arriving in a rebuilding phase. St. Luke's is coming off a 12-4 season in which it finished just one game behind perennial FAA powerhouse Brunswick.
"This was an opportunity to be part of a community," Kriftcher said. "I still love Westhill. It's my home school, so to speak, but it was actually a very easy decision to get the opportunity to get good kids and help mold them.
"We've got great senior leadership this year and it just makes the job a lot easier. It's great we don't have to really rebuild. We're playing at a January pace in December and that comes with having guys that have high basketball IQs."
Kriftcher's enthusiasm for youth basketball extends well beyond the high school level. He founded the Stamford Peace Basketball Club, which has rocketed upward in prestige as an elite AAU program. In the past three years more than 100 boys and girls have taken part in the club.
"What I focus on, first and foremost, in coaching, is telling the kids to be excellent in every aspect," Kriftcher said. "Basketball is just a component of it."
St. Luke's is off to a 2-0 start this season. Kriftcher grew up in New York, but has called Fairfield County home since 1996. He lives in Stamford with his wife and three children.