CONSHOHOCKEN, PA – Like so many coaches who have dedicated their careers to helping and supporting others, the Philadelphia chapter of Coaches vs. Cancer recognized their brothers on the sideline in battle with their eyes focused on a larger and tougher fight.
Former Camden Catholic coach Jim Crawford was honored as a “Legend” by Coaches vs. Cancer on Wednesday by the Philly coaches and he quickly deflected the accolades to keep the night’s aim on the target.
Crawford, who coached the Irish for over three decades after starring at Bishop Eustace Prep and LaSalle University, thanked the Coaches vs. Cancer to start his crisp 10-minute acceptance speech, but quickly added “we are here to fight cancer which has affected all of us and our families” during the High School Legends Dinner at the Great American Pub in Conshohocken.
Steve Donahue, the Penn coach who took the Quakers to the NCAA tourney last month in just his third year as head coach, echoed Crawford’s “coaching instructions” to the audience of over 110 people, including 30 from Camden Catholic.
“We are doing a remarkable job in this city,” Donahue said about the tireless effort by the City Six Division I coaches to raise money for the American Cancer Society. “I’ve been to other cities and this isn’t normal.
“The passion you have for basketball and in fighting cancer is remarkable.”
The achievements of the honored coaches are remarkable, too.
Along with Crawford, who retired as the head coach of Camden Catholic five years back, Lower Merion’s Gregg Downer, Downingtown East’s Bob Schnure and Simon Gratz’s Bill Ellerbee were honored.
Downer was introduced by a video of his former player Kobe Bryant. Former Gratz star Aaron McKie, who also played for Temple and the Sixers, introduced Ellerbee. Also, NBA veteran Rasheed Wallace attended the dinner to honor his former high school coach.
Also, the great Dick Jerardi was honored for his contributions as a college basketball writer for over three decades with the Philadelphia Daily News.
Crawford, who won three Group A state championships, seven South Jersey crowns and 10 Olympic Conference titles among his 713 wins over 35 seasons before retiring and being replaced by his son Matt, was introduced by his eldest son, Kevin, who is the head coach of Eastern.
“He is always positive,” Kevin told the audience about his father, “he is always teaching.”
You can make a positive impact, too, in the fight against cancer by attending the annual BasketBall Gala on Saturday, April 14, at the Philadelphia Park Hyatt at the Bellevue.
The BasketBall, which raises funds for the American Cancer Society, is hosted by Philly's City Six coaches and their wives. The black-tie evening features dinner, entertainment, dancing and auctions.
And, of course, lots of cool basketball stories.
This 15th Annual BasketBall will be honoring Steve Rosenberry, a longtime fixture around Philly basketball and currently the assistant general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers, and his wife, Kathi Tommasino, who was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in 2010 and continues her battle.
For more event information, to become a sponsor, or purchase a ticket visit go to: www.philadelphiabasketballgala.org or contact Dianna Dalton at 215-985-5362.
“I know you have all won a lot of games,” Donahue told the honored coaches in his closing remarks, “but that is secondary to the impact you have had on kids.
“I’m inspired by all of you.”
The same can be said by Coaches vs. Cancer, which has raised over $100 million for the American Cancer Society since 1993.