as told to Franklyn Calle
I’m not sure how long I will coach—I’m nearing the end of my coaching career—but we just don’t know that St. Anthony High School is in a position where it will remain open unless we get involved in a very aggressive fundraising campaign.
With that in mind, we decided to engage the company that made The Street Stops Here film, TeamWorks Media, and launch the St. Anthony 2020 campaign. The goal is to raise $10 million to keep the school operable until at least 2020. Shaquille O’Neal is among those who have vowed to help out and get involved. It’s a little bit out of my personality to ask people for help but I’m not asking for me—we’re looking at kids who are deserving of the opportunity to finish high school and go on to college.
People know about our basketball kids, about the national championships, the undefeated seasons and the All-Americans, but what people don’t know is that for the last 20 years in a row, we’ve had a 100 percent college acceptance rate. We compare that to Jersey City high schools, where slightly over 50 percent of the kids are graduating.
We’ve never had our own gym, but that’s helped us develop a strong work ethic. We don’t make excuses. When it’s all said and done, facilities don’t make players. Hard work makes players. I think we make up for the things we don’t have by maximizing whatever we do have.
When people think about the legacy of St. Anthony, it’d probably be about all of the kids that have gone on to play ball in college, but maybe the biggest legacy I could leave is to help the school be in a position where it would be self-sufficient and be able function past when I ultimately decide it’s time to retire. I hope my impact can be something that goes beyond basketball and helps the school continue to educate all the kids, not just the basketball player.