When you play basketball for St. Anthony’s High School, success in the classroom is just as important as performance on the court. And that’s because of Coach Bob Hurley.
Hurley is celebrating his 49th year of coaching basketball. He has 27 state championships and more than 1000 wins at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City. More than 150 of his players have gone on to earn NCAA Division 1 scholarships, and he is one of only three high school coaches with a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“When you find something that works for you, maybe you should stop looking around to find other things to do,” Hurley says. “Just keep doing it.”
But even with all he’s accomplished on the court, Hurley will really be remembered for how he changed the lives of thousands of kids off of it.
He says his most important job is to make sure his students stay on the path of higher education so they can have a better life. Hurley knows from years of experience — working both as a coach and in the criminal justice system — that making the wrong choices as a teenager can change everything.
“One of the most valuable lessons I learned from interviewing about 10,000 men over 30 years as a probation officer [was that] their biggest regret in life was when they were 12, 13 or 14,” he says. “They stopped working in school and drifted away and started to associate with kids that were not going to school or cutting class or being disruptive. And once they got off the right path they didn’t find themselves able to get back on [it].”
St. Anthony’s seniors Jagan Mosely and Shyquan Gibbs are certainly on the right path. These outstanding athletes have led the Friars (26-0) to be ranked the number one boys high school basketball team in New Jersey and fourth best in the nation according to USA Today. Mosley and Gibbs are also at the top of their class and projected to be co-valedictorians. Mosely is headed to Georgetown in the fall, while Gibbs will study engineering at NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology).
Both young men credit their coach for their success.
“Not one day goes by when I am not learning something from him,” Mosley says. “I have been with him since I was 14 years old, so he has seen me grow up. He is the reason I am going to Georgetown University. He taught me a lot of life lessons, on and off the court.”
Gibbs echoes his teammates feelings, adding that his coach helps everyone keep the big picture in sight.
“It’s a very good experience” playing for Coach Hurley, Gibbs says. “It’s not only basketball he teaches you, but a lot of life lessons that help you get on with the real world after college, after basketball. Because someday, the ball stops bouncing.”
Photos: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images (Hurley), Max Bonnstetter (players)