He was a coach who his contemporaries say ranks among the greatest of all time, at any level.
After 55 years of coaching basketball and baseball at Archbishop Molloy High School, 82-year-old Jack Curran passed away overnight.
But students and faculty say his legacy will live on, both on and off the court.
“When you’re around a great person… And unfortunately that’s going to be the case now,” said athletic director Mike McCleary.
Since 1958, Curran has led the varsity baseball and basketball teams at Molloy.
During his 55-year career he was named the Catholic High School Athletic Association coach of the year an astounding 25 times for baseball and 22 times for basketball.
He has more than 2,600 combined wins and a winning percentage of almost 75 percent. But those who worked with Curran say his impact goes far beyond the numbers.
“More than that he’s a great person and a great role model for every student that went to arch bishop Molloy he’s had a piece of,” said Richard Karsten, Molloy’s president. “Jack changes their lives with a simple gesture on the court, some advice off the court.”
Curran coached during the heyday of Catholic basketball in New York City, mentoring players like Kenny Smith and Kenny Anderson who both went on to successful NBA careers. But even in his 80s those who knew the coach say Curran could recall almost every game he ever coached.
The school asked that we not show current players, who were broken up by the loss of their coach, but allowed a few students to share their memories. They say despite all of his wins, some of the most valuable lessons they learned from their coach came in defeat.
“I mean it’s a great feeling knowing that even if you make a mistake he’ll still be there to back you up.”
“Just knowing that so many guys before me… And I got to play for such a great guy, it’s just a humbling feeling.”
“I can’t think of anybody who’s better than him on any level in any sport.”
And they say the dedication Curran showed to the game and his players for so many years is why he will be remembered as one of the greatest coaches ever.
And to put into perspective just how great Curran’s career was here at Molloy, in addition to an undefeated season and numerous hall of fame inductions, he won the CHSAA championship for both basketball and baseball in the same year 5 times. It’s a feat that no other coach has even accomplished once.
Plans for Curran’s funeral are still being discussed.