Ray’s Ray of Hope – Posse Positive People – Who Was Your Most Memorable Coach?
Too much has been said about the misdeeds of former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice giving us the impression that a certain amount of that is practiced by most every coach.
While we don’t necessarily know what all goes on in the locker room, some coaches transcend the x’s and o’s of their individual sports; and inspire their players in the game of life.
One such coach is the legendary Jersey City basketball coach Bob Hurley, who’s come out with a new book called “Chasing Perfect: The Will to Win in Basketball and Life.”
Hurley’s new book “Chasing Perfect: The Will to Win in Basketball and Life,” offers a first-person look at one of the most successful high school basketball programs in the country from the perspective of the man who has been drawing up the plays for the past 41 years.
Co-authored by the Long Island-based ghostwriter Daniel Paisner, “Chasing Perfect” looks back on St. Anthony’s seven perfect seasons…from Hurley’s first undefeated team as a 25-year-old coach in 1974 to the school’s back-to-back unbeaten campaigns of 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
And even those who have not had any books written about them, like ex-Egg Harbor Township High School coach, George Wilkinson, who still inspires the boy’s track and field team at the school.
Three years after he retired due to his diagnosis with melanoma, he inspired them on the day they won their biggest event in school history.
Wilkinson was an honored guest at the team's annual banquet Tuesday at Harbor Pines Golf Club. The team won the Group IV South Jersey sectional championship for the first time in May.
Wilkinson, who coached the team for 29 years, called head coach Ryan "Smitty" Smith at 6 a.m. the day of the meet and said he needed to talk to the team.
"He gave them (each) a Texas quarter. Coach Wilk is originally from Texas, and he said, 'Texas means a lot to me in my life. Find something that means a lot to you,'" Smith said. "A lot of the kids ran with it in their sock and carried it with them (at the sectional championships). He's so special because of his ability to lead and share his knowledge with everyone he comes into contact with."
Wilkinson was diagnosed with type 4 melanoma in 2010 but remains close to the team, attending many events and practices.
The team has created the Wilk Award, given to a student at the banquet who is exceptional in many different ways, just like the coach for whom it's named, Smith said.
This year, Wilkinson presented it to Paul Caplan, a senior who competed in the javelin.
Caplan, 18, said Wilkinson was a big inspiration to the team all year long.
After one meet during the year, Caplan received a voicemail from the coach congratulating him.
"After that I'd call him after every meet and tell him how I did," he said.
At the sectional championships, Wilkinson handed Caplan his quarter right before he competed. Caplan taped the quarter to his right arm and threw the javelin 165 feet - a personal best.
"It gave me a lift," Caplan said of seeing the coach.
Inspirational Coaches – Tonight’s Posse Positive People.
Did you have a coach who was more than an x’s and o’s guy, and taught you something about the game of life?