Meet the Coaches

Rich Leary

Rich Leary is HoopsAmerica's Head Director and Coach. He is a respected teacher, coach, and friend to hundreds of current and former players. His enthusiasm for the game and those who play it is recognized by graduates and fellow coaches alike.  “I have never seen a more passionate and talented teacher,” said Roshown McLeod, a former student and member of the Atlanta Hawks. Rich emphasizes and exemplifies the qualities of character, performance and achievement on the basketball court and off.
Rich has been the head coach of the New Jersey Demons Boys Team since it was established in 1988. The Demons have been recognized year in and year out as one of the nations premier teams. Over 150 boy and girl graduates of the Demons’ program have continued their careers as Division I scholarship student athletes. Dozens have played on nationally ranked college teams and many have gone on to pro careers both in the United States and overseas, and several coach in the college ranks today. The program’s accent on education is reflected in the large percentage of graduates who have attended Ivy League Schools and other similarly prestigious academic institutions. The success of his students in college and thereafter is the strongest testament to his coaching and guidance.

Tom Flaherty


"He used to beat ya, now he'll teach ya!"
Tom Flaherty is a master teacher, player, and motivator. You would be hard-pressed to find a player or coach who did it any harder than Tom. Tom only knows one way to work–harder than anyone else. Tom instills that attitude in his students–HE CHANGES LIVES.  As a junior at Metuchen High School, Tom was still watching the start of the game from the bench. Hard work changed Tom's future. In his senior year he was named First Team All State by the Star Ledger and the Associated Press. After winning a four-year scholarship to Seton Hall for Coach Bill Rafferty, Tom's work never stopped. He was now an All State player on a team with All Americans.
Tom had to fight hard to play at Seton Hall. But, by Tom's junior year he was a starter. By his senior year he was voted team MVP—MVP for the most successful Seton Hall team in a 25-year span. "By Tom's senior year in college Tom could completely dominate the college game," said training partner and friend Rich Leary. In 1976 Tom dominated the Jersey Shore Pro League as well. He averaged a triple double, scoring 25 points per game, while averaging 10 assists and 10 rebounds. His performance led to pro tryouts with the Detroit Pistons and Buffalo Braves. 
Instead of playing professional basketball overseas, Tom decided to use his basketball talents to help others succeed. "Tom changed my life. I probably would not have gone to college. Instead, I got a four-year scholarship, but even without the scholarship Tom taught me how to conquer challenges," said former student and player Ferdinand Williams, a George Washington University graduate.
Tom took a head coaching and teaching job at Perth Amboy Vo-Tech in 1985. The story in the classic underdog movie Hoosiers pales in comparison to Tom's Vo-Tech reality. At New Jersey's 5th smallest school, with a total enrollment of 150 students, a miniature gym, and no varsity team, Tom built a State Champion. His Perth Amboy Vo-Tech team was the first Middlesex County Boys Team to appear in the Tournament of Champions. One of the most outstanding accomplishments in the history of New Jersey high school basketball, it won Tom the Star Ledger, News Tribune and Home News State Coach of the Year Awards.
For years you could find Tom at a park using basketballs to teach students about life. Today, you can find Tom doing the same at HoopsAmerica.
Amanda Sepulveda

Amanda began training with HoopsAmerica at the age of 12. She went to Perth Amboy High School from 2001-2005. She currently is the all-time leading scorer with 1,325 career points. In 2006, she completed her post graduate year at the Hun School of Princeton. From 2006-2010 Amanda started point guard for Rider University. Amanda is 11th All-time in scoring and assists in Rider University history. She also achieved her 1,000 career point her senior season. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2009 and her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership in 2011. In 2011, she was the 2nd pick in the Balencesto Superior Nacional Femenino league in Puerto Rico. In her rookie season, Amanda made the All- Rookie team and in her sophomore season made the All Star Team. She played professionally from 2011-2014. Amanda has been coaching since 2008. Amanda coaches the NJ Demons AAU program with Rich Leary and Shamai Santiago. In 2013, she became the Operations Director for HoopsAmerica.


Shamai Santiago

Shamai began training with HoopsAmerica at the age of 10. He began his freshman year at Plainfield High School and in his sophomore season transferred to South Plainfield. He attended South Plainfield High School from 2004-2007. Shamai was All- Middlesex County his senior season and a GMC Champion defeating a strong St. Joes team that included top rank player and now professional athlete Andrew Bynum. Shamai was selected to the GMC All Star game his senior season. From 2007-2008, he attended Gannon University. He transferred his sophomore season to Middlesex County College. At MCC, he was first team All- Conference and a county champion. After MCC, he served as a women’s basketball assistant coach for Raritan Valley College for one season. Shamai has been coaching at HoopsAmerica since 2008. Currently, Shamai coaches the NJ Demons AAU program with Rich Leary and Amanda Sepulveda. Shamai is also one of the premiere Lead Instructors at HoopsAmerica.


Roman Hernandez

Roman attended Perth Amboy Vocational School from 2001-2005. At Perth Amboy Vo-Tech, he served as a co-captain and by his senior season was a Gold Division Champion. Roman attended Montclair State University from 2005-2007. In 2007, Roman played professional basketball in the Dominican Republic. He traveled with the Harlem Globetrotters from 2010-2014. He has played for the Washington Generals as well as the Harlem Wizards. He is known for his quickness and flashy handle. Roman has been coaching with HoopsAmerica since 2006.