Like mother like son

Jen and Rob Carangi both making names for themselves on the North Penn hardwood

Head+Coach+of+the+girls+basketball+team%2C+Jen+Carangi%2C+with+her+son%2C+junior+Rob+Carangi%2C+who+is+a+member+of+the+boys+basketball+team.

Sophia Hughes

Head Coach of the girls basketball team, Jen Carangi, with her son, junior Rob Carangi, who is a member of the boys basketball team.

TOWAMENCIN- A “Slam dunk” – whether it’s a glowing a report card, a great investment, a perfect job opportunity, this idiom is sporadically tossed through most typical American households. But for the Carangi family, the phrase often takes quite a literal turn.

Basketball is a major cog in the machine that is the Carangi household.  Both Rob and Jen discuss their games with each other, but they always make sure that they never go overboard.

“We talk about our games, we talk about his scouting reports and the player he’s assigned to guard, some of his strengths.  We really try to keep it mother-son,” Jen stated.

Prasham Jobanputra
Junior forward, standing at 6’6″, Rob Carangi

Along with Rob and Jen, basketball remains a factor in the lives of the other Carangis, as well.  Rob’s older sister Sam, who graduated in 2017, was a thousand-point scorer on the girls’ basketball team. Due to many of the Carangis being involved with the sport, basketball season often operates much differently than any other season for the Carangi’s.

“I feel like basketball is an important part of our family, because we’re always running to basketball.  It sets up our summers and our schedules, and things usually revolve around it,” Rob said.

The high flying Rob Carangi has made quite a name for himself since he entered high school.  He joined the JV team as a freshman two years ago then was a swing during his sophomore year.  This year, the 6’6″ forward was inserted into the starting five for the Knights this year and has been a major contributor.  Carangi is one of the many scoring options for the Knights as he is a versatile threat, scoring from the post, driving to the rim, and even shooting threes.  On defense, Carangi, along with Matt Swanson, make up the twin towers down low protecting the rim. 

Jen Carangi grew up in northeast Philadelphia, and attended Archbishop Ryan High School, where she played basketball for four years.  She then went to Villanova where she played for the girls’ team for the duration of her education. The oldest of 4 daughters, Jen was the first to start playing basketball in her family, and believes that she was the one who started the basketball frenzy on her side of the family.

After playing the sport, Jen then moved on to coaching.  She began her coaching career in 1996, and continued until her first daughter was born.  With too much to juggle between coaching and raising children, Jen decided to move on from coaching school teams, and instead decided to coach her kids’ teams.  She continued with this until 2014, when coach DeMarteleire was searching for an assistant coach.

The decision to coach for the North Penn girls’ basketball team evoked much thought from Jen and the rest of her family.  They all knew very well that, if she decided to take the coaching position, it would drastically affect both how much she would be available at home, and how much she’d be able to see her kids play at their schools.

Prasham Jobanputra
Coach Jen Carangi helping out her North Penn defense in a game at LC this year.

“Before I took the head coaching job I was an assistant under coach deMarteleire, and when I stepped down from that, my oldest daughter, Sam, was graduating and she was going to college.  My plan was to watch her in college and to watch Rob play here. Then, the head coaching position opened,” Jen explained. 

We had some major family discussions about that in terms of me knowing that I wasn’t going to be there to watch them play, and making sure that they were okay with it.”

— Jen Carangi - NPHS Girls' Basketball Coach

“We had some major family discussions about that in terms of me knowing that I wasn’t going to be there to watch them play, and making sure that they were okay with it.  I also have a younger daughter, Ava, who does not play any sports, so during basketball season she’s a bit of an orphan because I’m never home, but my husband is there, so it’s the two of them together.  There was definitely a lot of thought that went into the decision behind taking the job,” Jen added.

Despite how difficult the decision was, Jen can confidently say that she believes she made the right choice.

“I often say that when I decided to take this job, it was the first decision I had made since having kids that was really about me. A lot of times before, decisions that I made were driven by my children.  I would take coaching jobs and help out because my kids were playing. This was the first time where there was really nobody else involved but me. I struggled with that a bit in the beginning, and I thought about not doing it because I felt like maybe I was being a little bit selfish, but my family, my husband, my kids, they were all so supportive and they all told me that it was what I needed to do.  That made me feel a lot better about the decision,” Jen added.

As for Rob, growing up in a family that was dominated by basketball had some influence in his decision to play, but not to the point where he felt like he needed to play.

“There wasn’t really much pressure around wanting to play basketball, it was just that it was always there, so I just gave it a try and I liked it.  I’m also pretty tall for my age, so that was another reason to do it,” Rob mentioned.

It would certainly be understandable for Rob to feel pressured to perform at a high level, given how well his older sister, Sam, played for the girls’ team.  However, Rob claims that he felt no pressure at all when joining the boys’ team.

Sophia Hughes
Coach Jen with her son Rob

“I don’t feel pressure to fill in her role.  My mom and dad are really supportive, and if I don’t want to play basketball, I don’t have to.  I play basketball because I enjoy it,” Rob said.

My mom and dad are really supportive, and if I don’t want to play basketball, I don’t have to.  I play basketball because I enjoy it”

— Rob Carangi - NPHS Junior

This season, the boys’ basketball team struggled to gain momentum early, but a key win over CB West last week, fueled by a pair of loud dunks from Rob himself, puts the Knights at 9-12 and pushing for a playoff spot. The girls’ basketball team is having a solid season.  They currently hold a 14-5 record, thanks in no small part to Jen’s coaching efforts.

Even though both Rob and Jen are both heavily invested with basketball, Jen makes sure that nothing comes in the way of her duty as a mother.  Jen also does her best to allow Rob to have time to himself, believing that it is important for him to be more than just a basketball player at this age.

“I always try to give him space to do the things that he wants to do, like normal teenage things.  Whether it be sleeping late, playing video games, or watching netflix. I think, as a family, there’s certain things that we do to try to spend time together, but I think it’s really important, particularly when you have kids who play at a high level, to give them room to just be by themselves a little bit,” Jen reflected.  “There’s so much sacrifice involved with playing a sport at a high level, so players can miss a lot. So when we’re out of season, or when there’s down time, my husband and I try to give him space to be able to do those normal teenage things, like hanging out with his friends, going to the city, and do fun things like that.”

Additionally, Jen thinks that parents shouldn’t be the ones coaching their kids, since there’s already someone else who is supposed to fill that role.

But I don’t ever try to coach Rob because he has a coach, he doesn’t need me to step into that role. Sometimes I think that when parents coach from the other side, it puts their kids in the middle, and that’s not a good thing”

— Jen Carangi

“I sometimes feel like, with some of my players, I treat them like they’re my kids.  I have the same high expectations for them, I demand a lot from them because I know, especially for those who want to play at the next level, that there are certain things they need to do, and it’s my responsibility to get them there.  But I don’t ever try to coach Rob because he has a coach, he doesn’t need me to step into that role. Sometimes I think that when parents coach from the other side, it puts their kids in the middle, and that’s not a good thing. He needs to listen to the coach he has, not me,” Jen added.

The winter sports season can certainly be a hectic time in the Carangi household.  Many members of the family are constantly on the go, but through it all, the most important thing to Jen is that her son is competing and doing what he loves.

“I’m super proud of him.  I love the fact that he plays, and I love the fact that he competes.  I really enjoy when I get the opportunity to come here and watch him play,” Jen said.