By BOB MONTGOMERY – Bristol Press Correspondent
Bristol – City leaders, high school coaches and administrators, and the captains of fall sports and senior members of the football teams at Bristol’s three high schools gathered at Nuchies Restaurant Friday morning for the “Breakfast of Champions,” sponsored by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Bristol Board of Education and Bristol Sports Hall of Fame.
Keynote speaker was Bob Hurley, coach of the St. Anthony High, Jersery City, N.J. basketball team, two-time national champions and state champions 22 times. He was introduced by Bristol native Adrian Wojnarowski, 1987 Bristol Central graduate who went on to win tow AP columnist of year awards before recently writing a book on Hurley’s success entitled, “the Miracle of St. Anthony’s: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty.”
“Some NBA people you talk to list Larry Brown, Hubey Brown and Bob Hurley as the best basketball-ball coaches today.” said Wojnarowski. Both Browns are known for their success in the NBA while Wojnarowski explained. “He (Hurley) decided to stay a high school coach.”
Bobby Hurley was a skinny 5-1 and 100 pound kid at age 13 when he set out on a missions to break the local high school scoring and get a college scholarship en route to playing in the NBA. The young man worked hard and learned from disappointments to eventually be drafted No. 7 by the NBA his senior year at Duke University.
“However, 19 games (into his NBA career), said Bob Hurley, “he was in an automobile accident and was hurt badly. They brought him back twice after the died (on the operating table) and he eventually came back to play out his contract.”
Today, his son is the father of three kids and doing fine.
“He used all the values of sports to be a success.” said Hurley. “The lessons he learned on the field have helped him in his life.
Hurley noted the Bristol was well represented at the breakfast with many leaders, those who are a good influence on the youth of Bristol, an important part in bringing success to the youth of a city.
In taling about his own rules with regard to his players, he added, “There are curfews, short hair and no jewelry (being worn). They (the players) hate me until they go to college (where they look back and then understand what it took to get them there).”
Receipient of the annual Ralph Papzian Award, given to a Bristol teacher who displays the attributes which made the late Bristol supervisor of athletics a success, was math teacher Dave Greenleaf of Bristol Central. He was introduced by Jack HInes, a vice-president at First Bristol Federal Credit Union and longtime executive director of the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame.
“Those chosen for the award practice family values, integrity, are involved in community service, show sportsmanship, leadership and a concern for academic achievement,” said Hines.
Greenleaf’s “bio” inclues 32 years of teaching, 31 at Central, coaching high school soccer and track, being a contributing writer to the Bristol Press since 1964, giving 40 plus years fo service to McCabe-Waters Little League, two as president, being a director of the both Bristol Historical Society and Bristol Sports Hall of Fame while being the web-master of four locations.
John Novakowski, Bristol’s supervisor of athletics, added that perhaps his biggest gift was smoothly scheduling the athletic games for Central Connecticut Conference, a four-division scholastic league that includes 23 schools.
Greenleaf’s mother, Trudy, was introduced and her son remembered his father, Al, who recently passed away.
With regards to this 40 years of sports participation, the Central teacher said he was only half done.
“I like to keep scores, I like keeping statistics and I like watching sports,” said Greenleaf. “I look forward to 40 more years of doing the same thing.