Miracle Of St. Anthony Hardcover – Feb 11 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
The Bob Hurley profiled here isn't as well known to the average sports fan as his son, Bobby, the Duke University basketball superstar. But the elder Hurley's profile should rise quickly, thanks to sportswriter Wojnarowski's fine and detailed look at the "miracle" Hurley has achieved as coach for more than 30 years of the men's basketball team at St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City, NJ. Wojnarowski provides an excellent look at the phenomenon of the school itself, which Hurley and two Felician nuns managed to keep open even after it lost funding from the church, educating "the poorest of the poor" (more than 50% of the students' families lived below the poverty line). He delivers a finely etched portrait of Hurley, whose passion and drive enabled him to construct "a national powerhouse program out of an enrollment that struggled to stay at 200" and keep the school's decade-long streak of 100% college acceptance. But Wojnarowski's main focus is on the 2003-2004 season, in which a varsity team that Hurley considered "the most academically, athletically and socially underachieving in St. Anthony basketball history" overcame its "dysfunctional" nature and had an undefeated season. Wojnarowski's sensitive, insightful look at the social backgrounds and emotional development of the varsity players-and Hurley's remarkable understanding of them-will keep readers riveted throughout this book, which is one of the best recent pieces of sports journalism.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In 31 years as head basketball coach at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, Bob Hurley has won 22 state titles. One might expect St. Anthony to be a sprawling urban campus with thousands of students from which to cull elite basketball players. On the contrary, it's a tiny school, constantly on the edge of bankruptcy and held together by a determined band of Felician nuns. Nearly all of Hurley's players have attended college, many on basketball scholarships. New Jersey sportswriter Wojnarowski chronicles St. Anthony's 2003-04 season, which began with a group of players Hurley categorized as undermotivated and unfocused. They weren't for long. The season was a success, and the four seniors all accepted scholarships to Division I basketball programs. This inspiring account of good people making a difference one step at a time stands as a compelling counterpoint to Ian O'Connor's The Jump (p.1129), in which basketball talent is exploited at various levels for the profit of all but the player. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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ED SZALKIEWICZ KEPT coming down the third-floor corridor of St. Anthony High School, insisting that Ahmad Mosby-the senior everyone called "Beanie"-turn around and talk to him. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Many AAU programs do not teach the fundamentals of basketball...they showcase...and use players as trophies. Many AAU programs are also factories who spit out players regularly when other more talented players come along. Coach Hurley teaches his kids how to play as a team and sticks with them for a lifetime. He also introduces a culture of refreshing honesty and does not engage in the dark world of under the table payments to, "street agents."
Admittedly, Coach Hurley would not get away with the harsh screaming and cursing of players in most affluent suburban basketball communities. However, it appears to be the right forumla in Jersey City an inner city low-income community just across the Hudson River in the shadows of New York City. The kids who play for St. Anthony use basketball as an escape from the demons of drugs and violence on the streets. They use the academic and basketball education at St. Anthony's to get free rides to college.
Coach Hurley shows them the path. He does so by teaching them discipline...the discipline to keep your mouth shut and play ball. It is amazing that Coach Hurley's teams rarely get called for technical fouls. They play the game on the court and are prohibited to "trash talk" to opposing players, coaches or officials.
But it is hardly a piece of cake...Coach Hurley is demanding. He expects a "total," commitment. Some pages of this book are harsh. However, this is a national high school powerhouse with a long tradition of championships and it is hard to argue with the genius of Coach Hurley. Recommended.
Fortunately, like John Feinstien in Season on the Brink, Wojnarowski does the subject justice with excellent reporting, great writing and a very honest and engaging style. There are a huge number of "Year in the life of..." style books now and many of them are about athletic teams or athletes and this is certainly one of the three best I've read (along with Season and Friday Night Lights). I would recommend it to anyone who likes basketball, socio-economic issues (the Jersey City backdrop and how it affects the kids and school are fascinating) and most importantly for coaches or teachers who want to know how to lead your pupils. A fantastic book that I recommend very highly.
I once went to a play in a Jersey City High School and I wondered how anyone could live in such a bleak, even dangerous environment. And this is a tale of not only learning, but excelling in an environment where most of us want to drive through quickly with the doors locked.
This is a story about basketball. But more than that, it is a story of depressed urban areas with all the usual problems of race, drugs, poverty, and all the other problems. At the same time it is a story of hope and fulfillment. It's also the story of extraordinary people who are willing to spend their careers helping the people in such an area to get ahead.
More than just a basketball story, this is a story of a small brick schoolhouse run by Felician nuns always at the edge of bankruptcy but somehow able to barely survive but to continue to turn out educated kids.