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Learning from a legend

Legendary high school basketball coach Bob Hurley stresses discipline and tradition at the Catholic Education Foundation breakfast

by Anita McSorley

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When KU basketball coach Bill Self was recruiting freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor to his Jayhawk team, he warned the young player of one thing.

“You’re never going to play for a better coach,” Self told Taylor, “than you already have.”

Indeed, Taylor was a product of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, N.J., where he played for the legendary basketball coach, Bob Hurley.

The legend was in town June 23 to give the keynote address at a breakfast benefiting the Catholic Education Foundation. There, he spoke to a group of over 300 at the College Basketball Experience in Kansas City, Mo .

In introducing him, Coach Self, the 2009 Associated Press Coach of the Year, explained that “the best coaches don’t necessarily coach in the NBA.”

In fact, he introduced Hurley as “arguably the best coach in basketball — at any level.”

Proceeds from The Gift of Catholic Education Business Breakfast, sponsored by the Bukaty Companies, went to provide education scholarships for children in need.

The choice of Hurley as the speaker, therefore, was doubly appropriate.

Not only are his achievements as a basketball coach legendary — his commitment to kids in need is unparalleled.

Although Hurley has been offered millions to coach basketball at the college level, he has instead stayed at St. Anthony’s, where his teams have won 23 state titles and three national championships.

For 37 years, in fact, he has coached kids in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country. He believes the discipline that his Catholic school and his basketball program instill has been key in the athletes’ subsequent success. Only three of his players, in all those years, have not gone on to college.

But it’s not been easy, he said, insisting on the same standards year after year.

“How do you remain old school as the seams are splitting all around you?” he asked during his keynote address.

His answer was simple: You mentor them.

“Everybody wants to be good at something,” he explained.

At St. Anthony’s, the long and legendary basketball tradition is something the boys aspire to be a part of.But to be a part of it, to make the team, the boys are required to sign a contract that commits them to the very strictest code of behavior.

“We can’t have too much discipline these days,” Hurley said, “because we want these kids to succeed.”

Ultimately, he concluded, helping kids succeed is the purpose of the Catholic Education Foundation — and the help of all those gathered for the breakfast was needed to make that happen.

“Your involvement,” he said, “is going to give countless kids chances.”

Emceed by Stan Cramer, the program concluded with some remarks by Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who thanked both Coach Hurley and Coach Self for their support, CEF board members for their service, and especially CEF board chairman Mark Ledom for his leadership.

About the author

Anita McSorley

Anita, managing editor of The Leaven, has over 30 years’ experience in book, magazine and newspaper editing, including stints as the assistant editor of the “Diplomatic Papers of Daniel Webster” at Dartmouth College and then in the public relations departments of Texaco, Inc., and the Rockefeller Group in New York. Anita made the move to newspaper editing when she came to The Leaven in 1988, where she has been ever since. Anita is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., and in her spare time, she enjoys giving her long-suffering husband, her children and her staff good advice that they never take.

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