Auriemma, five coaches hon­ored by Coaches Hall

Souderton Independent - - OPINION - By Tommy Fioriglio

The Mont­gomery County Coaches Hall of Fame wel­comed in five new mem­bers and hon­ored the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut women’s bas­ket­ball head coach and Nor­ris­town na­tive Geno Auriemma with the Life­time Achieve­ment Award.

Auriemma, who en­tered the Nai­smith Memo­rial Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame in 2006, was in­ducted into the Mont­gomery County Coaches Hall of Fame as a mem­ber of the Class of 2005 and joins fel­low Nor­ris­town na­tive Tom La­sorda as the only two coaches to be hon­ored with both the Life­time Achieve­ment Award and in­duc­tion into the Coaches Hall of Fame.

“Any time you get a chance to come home where you grew up, with peo­ple that you went to school with and peo­ple that you’ve made great friends with, any time you’re hon­ored by a group of peo­ple like that, I think it’s pretty spe­cial,” said Auriemma. “It doesn’t mat­ter whether it’s the first time and the only time or if it hap­pens again.”

Throughout his ca­reer, Auriemma has amassed an im­pres­sive re­sume, in­clud­ing seven na­tional cham­pi­onships and in­duc­tion into the Women’s Bas­ket­ball Hall of Fame, but 2012 has been ex­cep­tion­ally note­wor­thy. In ad­di­tion to the Life­time Achieve­ment Award, Auriemma guided the Huskies to the Fi­nal Four for the 13th time and coached the gold medal-win­ning Team USA women’s bas­ket­ball team at the Lon­don Olympics, a feat that Auriemma is still try­ing to put in per­spec­tive in his own mind.

“It doesn’t dawn on you be­fore­hand be­cause it’s too hard to think about it and once you are over there you are in the mid­dle of it and it is a lit­tle bit over­whelm­ing. But once you’re done and you get back, you start to think, ‘Wow, how many peo­ple get an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing like that?”’ Auriemma said. “The more time goes on, the more I think I will ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

In ad­di­tion to hon­or­ing Auriemma, for­mer Nor­ris­town Area High School Track and Field Coach Ernie Hadrick, North Penn High swim­ming coach Rick Car­roll and soft­ball coach Joan Moser, and Lower Me­rion High School bas­ket­ball coaches Gregg Downer and Bill An­der­son were in­ducted into the Mont­gomery County Coaches Hall of Fame as mem­bers of the Class of 2012.

“I think it’s prob­a­bly the big­gest thrill that I’ve had be­cause of the no­to­ri­ety that the Mont­gomery County Coaches Hall of Fame has,” said Car­roll. “When you read through the list of names of peo­ple that have been in­ducted, it’s tremen­dously im­pres­sive; over­whelm­ing, in fact.”

“It’s a very big honor,” said Hadrick, echo­ing Car­roll’s sen­ti­ments. “This or­ga­ni­za­tion has done great things, rec­og­niz­ing peo­ple over the years. It’s just in­cred­i­ble to be se­lected. I didn’t an­tic­i­pate it.”

For Hadrick, the in­duc­tion closed the circle of his ca­reer, as he par­tic­i­pated in the Nor­ris­town track and field pro­gram as a stu­dent be­fore re­turn­ing to the school as a coach af­ter a brief stint at Bishop Ken­rick High School in the early 1980s. Hadrick coached the Nor­ris­town track and field team from 1986 to 1990 and again from 1997 to 2003. Dur­ing that time, he coached 11 in­di­vid­ual state cham­pi­ons and three re­lay state cham­pi­ons. He also led the 2001 boys in­door track team to the state cham­pi­onship in a mo­ment that stuck out in Hadrick’s mind af­ter re­flect­ing on his ca­reer.

“We never re­ally stopped to look at what was hap­pen­ing,” Hadrick said. “Win­ning the States’ the one time in­doors was some­thing we had never an­tic­i­pated. It just rolled out on us. We had some ex­cep­tional ath­letes and we were look­ing more to per­form well and do what­ever we had to do to per­form well.”

Lead­ing the same pro­gram that he par­tic­i­pated in as stu­dent was a spe­cial honor for Hadrick, who was able to form a unique bond with the ath­letes be­cause of the lo­cal con­nec­tion.

“It was a huge thing to be able to come back and work in your own community,” said Hadrick. “You con­nected with the kids in a dif­fer­ent way.”

North Penn coaches Car­roll and Moser were con­tem­po­raries and both brought un­her­alded sport suc­cess to school.

Moser, who coached field hockey and bas­ket­ball along with soft­ball, led the soft­ball team to three state ti­tles start­ing in 1976 when the team went un­de­feated. She also guided the Maid­ens to 13 Bux-Mont ti­tles in 17 years and ended her coach­ing ca­reer at the school with 278 wins and was in­ducted into the Ursi­nus Hall of Fame in 1987.

“This is es­pe­cially nice for me be­cause the Hall of Fames that I’m in are for ath­letes, ac­tu­ally par­tic­i­pat­ing in sports,” Moser said. “This is a coach’s recog­ni­tion, so that’s new to me.”

Un­der Car­roll’s tute­lage, the North Penn swim­ming team won an as­tound­ing 17 con­sec­u­tive league cham­pi­onships, nine Dis­trict 1 cham­pi­onships and two state ti­tles while com­pil­ing a record of 213-14, in­clud­ing a 69-match win­ning streak. Car­roll had pre­vi­ously been in­ducted into the Penn­syl­va­nia Swim­ming Hall of Fame.

The in­duc­tion of Downer and An­der­son brought a unique dy­namic to the event, as the 346 ca­reer wins that An­der­son, who passed away in 1962, had ac­cu­mu­lated in his ca­reer had been the Lower Me­rion school record for more than 60 years un­til Downer recorded his 347th win in 2010.

“I never met Bill but I heard so many things about what a great coach he was and to be con­sid­ered some­one in the record books along with a coach of that cal­iber is a great thing,” said Downer, who cur­rently holds a ca­reer record of 407-180 and has won two state cham­pi­onships. The As­so­ci­ated Press also named him the Penn­syl­va­nia Coach of the Year in 2006.

Al­though each in­ductee took a dif­fer­ent path to suc­cess, all those hon­ored agreed that their suc­cess was as much of a re­flec­tion of the stu­dent-ath­letes as it was of coach­ing abil­ity and that work­ing with the ath­letes is as re­ward­ing as any ac­coloade.

“I have one kid who never won a race that calls me ev­ery year on Fa­ther’s Day and lets me know how much of a dif­fer­ence was made for him,” Hadrick said. “Touch­ing lives the way we touched them, me and the coaches and the community even, was just in­cred­i­ble.”

For Mont­gomery Me­dia / ADRI­ANNA E. HOFF

Board mem­bers John Pergine, Joe Davis, Tony Leodora and Mike Morsch with hon­orees Ernie Hadrick, Joan Moser, Rick Car­roll and Gregg Downer at Tues­day’s Mont­gomery County Coaches Hall of Fame banquet at the Westover Coun­try Club.

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