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From NCAA to 30A beaches: Ray Giacoletti on the transition to real estate

Giacoletti coached NCAA men’s basketball for 34 years before retiring in 2022 and making the jump into the real estate industry

Ray Giacoletti might be new to the real estate industry, but he is no stranger to hard work. The new 30A, Florida-based Corcoran Reverie agent coached NCAA basketball for over three decades.

After finishing his own collegiate basketball career at Minot State, the Illinois native returned to be part of the school’s coaching team after his graduation. Giacoletti went on to coach at 11 other universities nationwide, serving as head coach at North Dakota State, Eastern Washington University, the University of Utah, and Drake University. He also served as an assistant coach at Gonzaga University. Giacoletti retired in 2022 after serving as an assistant coach at Saint Louis University for three years.

Since retiring to Florida, Giacoletti has found a new passion in real estate.

“We moved 10 times in 34 years, and I always enjoyed researching for new homes in new areas,” Giacoletti said.

RealTrends recently sat down with Giacoletti to discuss his coaching career and his transition into the real estate industry.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Brooklee Han: Before we dive into your real estate career, can you tell me a bit about how you first got into basketball?

Ray Giacoletti: I’m originally from Peoria, Illinois, and Peoria had great basketball in the late ’70s and early ’80s, especially for a city of its size. Even back in the 1950s, before the NBA became popular, there was the National Industrial Basketball League and Caterpillar, which was based in Peoria and had a team, and some of those guys even went on to be on some of the Olympic teams in the ‘50s.

So, when I was coming up in high school in the ’70s, basketball was really important, and for a small town, the teams were really good.

I was lucky to play for a high school coach that had a year-round program, and he really taught us how to have a work ethic. Then I played in college at a smaller school, and around my junior year, I really didn’t know what else I wanted to do, but I knew I loved basketball. I was lucky enough to get the chance to return as a graduate assistant in 1985, right after I graduated, and that was it for the next 34 years.

BH: What drew you to coaching?

Giacoletti: In the late ’70s and early ’80s in Peoria, your high school coach was a real mentor, someone who was helping young people grow up and become adults, and these coaches had huge impacts on all of us. The high school coaches were leaders of the community.

It is so much different than it is today, but back then, their mission was to help you grow in every facet of your life — they were really like second fathers to many of us. My coach made a big impression on me, and I think that I wanted to try to do the same thing.

In the end, I got to be head coach at four different universities, but it was all from those guys back in Peoria who had made such a big impression on me and the youth of that era.

BH: You retired from coaching in June of last year and have since transitioned into real estate. Where did this interest in the real estate industry come from?

Giacoletti: We moved 10 times in 34 years, so we had a lot of experience buying and selling houses. About four years ago now, my wife and I bought a place here in Santa Rosa Beach on 30A.

When I retired last June, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my time, and I was trying to figure out how to be retired. I tried golf and fishing, and I would still wake up early every morning and work out, but by Christmas I was really bored and realized I wasn’t ready to be totally done with nothing to do.

Coaching doesn’t really give you a lot of time for hobbies, so it wasn’t like I already had something else I knew I liked. So, at Christmas, I made the decision to jump into real estate.

I have always done all the research when we have bought and sold houses, and I realized that I was interested in it and I have a good feel for this area, so I looked into studying to take my licensing exam. I got my license in February.

BH: How has your experience as both and athlete and a coach helped you as you have tried to break into this industry?

Giacoletti: A lot of it so far has been trying to put some kind of plan together and then talk with a number of different people that have already experienced what you are going through, or what you are about to go through, and trying to learn from them.

I took four head coaching jobs, and in each one of those jobs, there was a different plan on how to try and be successful at that place. You always have to adjust to the strength and weaknesses of each job and the resources you have access to.

Real estate is really connections-driven, and coaching for nearly 35 years, I know a lot of people about my age looking for second homes in this area. So I just invite them down for a weekend with us, and the area is so beautiful that it really just sells itself.

BH: I know you are only a couple months in, but what do you like most about the real estate industry so far?

Giacoletti: Right now I am really loving the learning piece of it. To be 60 years old and still learning new things and getting to use my mind in new ways is so nice. The other day I was on a tour with another agent who was kind enough to let me go with her and talk about the different homes we toured with her clients. It’s just a lot of learning, but a lot of fun.

I am also having the chance to learn more about the area. Of course, the beach is what attracts everyone, but there are 10 different little towns, and each one has its own personality. So, learning more about the different towns has also been a lot fun.

BH: This is the second professional transition you have made in your life after having gone from athlete to coach. Are there any lessons you learned during that period of your life that you have found are helping you now?

Giacoletti: There are so many lessons in coaching that have a direct reflection in real estate. You need to have a great relationship with your athletes as a coach, as well as know how to recruit and how to make different personalities work together so you have a winning team that acts as one unit on the floor.

BH: As an athlete and a coach, goal-setting is something you are very familiar with. I know we are in the early stages, but what are you hoping to get out of your real estate career?

Giacoletti: I was so competitive as a coach, and it was really hard to manage that for as long as I did. I am pretty honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses, and with this, I really just want to have fun and help people find the home they are looking for.

I really just want to keep that frame of mind. I am not doing this to keep the roof over our heads; I’m doing it because I’m interested in it.

With athletics, I just got to the point where it was almost ‘win at all costs,’ and I don’t want that feeling anymore. I want to be able to have success come more organically and less forced —and I just want to have fun.