Jon Cormier has replaced Wendy Ross as the new director of advancement. Previously, he worked as the associate director of development and the assistant varsity basketball coach at Brunswick School in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Q: What exactly does the director of advancement do?
A: A lot of people think of it primarily as fundraising for the school – and that’s a very important part of it. But it’s also community building, relationship building, working with volunteers, and any initiative that takes the school forward.
There are events sometimes that we’re involved with that generate not only fundraising dollars but also relationships.
Q: How long have you been in Sacramento?
A: I left Connecticut on July 1 and arrived on July 6, and I’ve been here since.
Q: Are you enjoying SCDS?
A: Very much. I enjoy the community. I enjoy looking out the window or walking around campus and seeing all the kids, all different ages. I’ll spot my own daughter every once in awhile, and that’s a lot of fun. She’s in Pre-K.
Q: Speaking of your daughter, how many children do you have?
A: I have a daughter in Pre-K, I have a son who is 3 years old, and then we just had a baby a couple of weeks ago – another son.
Q: Where did you go to college and what was your major?
A: I went to Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, and I majored in English and film.
Q: Did you enjoy these majors?
A: I did. I didn’t go in anticipating to major in English and film. I thought I was going to be more of a math and science person, but the classes that I enjoyed the most happened to be English and film, so I just really pursued what I was more passionate about.
Q: You’re the son of a college basketball coach, Paul Cormier. What teams did he coach?
A: My dad, when I was a very little boy, coached at Bentley College (Waltham, Massachusetts), and he was an assistant coach there.
He became an assistant coach at Villanova (Villanova, Pennsylvania), and he actually recruited much of the starting five that won the title in 1985, including Harold Presley who came out and played for the Sacramento Kings and now lives in Citrus Heights.
After he was an assistant at Villanova, he became the head coach at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. After that, he was the head coach at Fairfield University (Fairfield, Connecticut) where they went to the NCAA tournament one year and played against North Carolina – Dean Smith coaching the team – and then he spent either 12 or 13 years bouncing from one NBA team to another as an assistant coach and a scout.
And then he returned for his second tenure at Dartmouth, and that’s where he is now. He’s the head coach.
Q: What was it like growing up as the son of this coach?
A: It was different. I would say that it was also exciting. You want to see your father succeed, and when you’re watching these games that he’s coaching and they’re close games, it can be a little nerve-wracking because winning and losing at the college level is such an important factor these days.
And my dad was always in a much better mood after a win!
Q: Did you play basketball in high school or college?
A: I did. I played basketball through college at Middlebury. I also played baseball there. But when people see how short I am (Cormier said he is 5’9” with shoes on), they think baseball before they think basketball.
Q: Would you say you’re better at baseball or basketball?
A: I would say that I was better at basketball because I practiced more. I probably had more talent with baseball, but I practiced more with basketball.
Q: Did you ever play with your dad?
A: I did play with him. Although he actually played professional baseball for a while, he was a pitcher and he played in the minor leagues. When he became a coach, he kind of hung up his hightops a little bit and didn’t play a lot. He was into fitness, and we learned that through him, but other than shooting hoops outside he didn’t really play a lot of pick-up games or anything like that. He was a good shooter, but he’s slow.
Q: Did you ever play for one of the teams he coached?
A: There was a time when I was in high school where I would play pick-up games with the members of the team that he coached at Fairfield University, but he was never my coach.
Q: Did he ever give you tips?
A: He did. I could always hear his voice through a big crowd at a game. He didn’t really have to talk that loud. But he didn’t see a lot of my games himself because at the level he was coaching he was always busy, even when he wasn’t in season. Traveling, recruiting, he was just a very busy person.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I used to, before I had kids. But I still try to run when I can. I like trail running.
Photography is another thing I like to do. Actually, I like to combine those hobbies sometimes, so when I’m out running with my iPhone, I just take pictures of what I see on the trails.
Q: What’s an interesting fact about yourself?
A: Before getting into education and fundraising, I interned in Hollywood for a production company.
Q: Really? Which one?
A: Mad Chance Productions. It was actually through Middlebury. It was a Middlebury graduate who was working at Mad Chance Productions, and I reached out to him through the college’s network, and I landed that internship. It was about a year after I graduated from Middlebury, and it was somewhere between six and 10 months long.
Q: What did you do as an intern?
A: I did a lot of gofer-type jobs, and I read movie scripts and I wrote coverage on the scripts that I read. The producers didn’t have to read the whole script; they could just get a summary from me.
Q: What do you mean by “gofer-type jobs?”
A: Like getting lunch for people, making copies of things. I photocopied a million scripts, and I shipped a million packages, and I fetched plenty of lunches.
There was one producer who asked me to take his car to a car wash, but it was a stick and I didn’t know how to drive stick at the time. It was a bummer because it was a really fancy car. The other intern that was there with me was really excited that he got to drive it.
Q: While you were working at Mad Chance, did you meet any famous people?
A: I met Ashton Kutcher one day when he came in. I met some other famous producer-type people. I worked for Andrew Lazar, and I think he was a pretty big producer. He introduced me to another big producer and said “Hey… Hey…” and he didn’t know my name, and he felt pretty bad about it.
Q: Did you enjoy your time at Mad Chance?
A: I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed it immensely. I would say that it was a really good experience. It became pretty clear to me at the end of it that this was not something that I was going to pursue.
Q: What drove you away from that line of work?
A: I didn’t see a clear path to move forward. I was trying to do some writing, but I wasn’t prolific enough, I wasn’t writing fast enough to make any progress, so it just didn’t seem practical. A lot of people after being an intern become someone’s assistant, and then they’re the ones bossing the interns around. That just didn’t appeal to me.
—By Quin LaComb