By Conor Glennon ‘20
Many years ago, there was a kid with some pretty extraordinary dreams. This kid was a mere novice to Brother Rice basketball, but something inside of him fueled his hunger to leave an impact on such a storied program.
That same kid sat in the stands at every game on the first row on the south end of the gym on the side closer to Pulaski. He sat in that same seat every time because it had the best view in the house. At that time, the kid was just the right height to see right in between two rails. It was the best seat because the kid loved to watch the Crusaders warm up. He loved the view from behind the Crusaders in the second half. He loved the way he could hear the pep band blast that one song without bursting his ear drums. He loved how close he was to the banners that hung from the ceiling. He loved it all. He did not know why, but he loved it nonetheless.
Watching Crusader legends like Bobby Harmening, Jim Barista, and Alex Majewski would inspire him. He dreamed of being just like them. He dreamed of playing for the storied coach Pat Richardson. Unlike kids of that age, he dreamed of being the best.
This dream of his led him to wonder. It led him to wonder who came before the guys like Quinn Niego, Ray Rubio and Cal Kennedy? He grew curious about legends like Bob Frasor, whose jersey hung outside the gym, Vince Greene, who scored 1,000 points in two seasons, and Jim Sexton, who is the Brother Rice all-time leading scorer. He wanted to know what made them so elite. He wanted to understand what it took to be at that level.
He, then, discovered that to be the best you had to be tough. The kid wanted to be tough the same way guys like Shaun Jacob and Andrew Weishar were. It was through these high character people where the kid learned tradition.
Like before, this hunger to learn continued to lead him to previous Crusaders. It was then he found that to be the best, you have to win. All of the former greats had one thing in common – they were winners. Frasor’s jersey didn’t hang in the gym just because he was a great player. No, the kid realized that his jersey hung where others didn’t because he was the ultimate winner. He was a National Champion as a member of the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Decades of excellence set a precedent.
The kid continued to dream. This time his dreams had more detail. They had more meaning. Before, the kid dreamed to be the best. He wanted to have his name all over the record books. Now, the kid just dreamt of winning. He dreamt of doing the one thing that nobody else did. He dreamt of cutting down the nets in Peoria.
As time continued, so did the kid with the extraordinary dreams.
The kid would soon be ready to stop plotting and put everything he had into his single dream.
When the kid finally got his chance, he was sure to soak it all in. In his first year, he was able to learn from Josh Niego and Mike Shepski. Niego taught the kid how to be a leader. He taught him how to be a winner. Shepski taught the kid how to bring passion to practice every day. He taught him that every day was an opportunity to be great.
Together, they proved everything the kid ever believed in to be right. Together, they proved what Brother Rice basketball was all about. They proved that it mattered. They proved that what they did paved the way for the future.
The following year, the kid would have his first real taste of it all. He had the opportunity to learn from the person who accomplished the things that the kid set out to do. It was a lot to take in for a young kid, but Brendan Coghlan’s work ethic gave clarity. Coghlan taught the kid that no matter the goal, hard work was the answer. He showed the kid what it meant to be on top of both your school work and after-hours basketball work.
With the knowledge he had been dealt, the kid continued after his dream. It is at that point where the kid would come so close, but fall just short. It is here where Marquise Kennedy taught the kid persistence. He taught him to always leave it all on the floor.
The kid now had all the pieces to the puzzle. His dream was right in front of him. It was up to him to make it happen. The kid took everything he learned from his idols and put it to use. He was a leader to his teammates. He brought passion every day. He worked his tail off in the classroom and on the hardwood. He left it all on the floor.
The kid gave it everything he had.
But the kid came up short.
Soon after, the kid would realize that he is no longer a kid. Everything started to make sense again. That song that the pep band used to play wasn’t just some song; “Baba O’Reilly” was the gold standard.
It stood for years of sacrifice. It stood for years of triumph. It stood for years of defeat. It stood for the pursuit of excellence.
The kid finally had the last piece to the puzzle.
Instead of feeling sorry, the kid felt rewarded. After failing to conquer his one and only dream, the kid felt complete.
He felt complete because he knew Brother Rice basketball was bigger than him.
Brother Rice basketball has never been about one person. It never will be. Brother Rice basketball is a collection of all those who have written their story. Brother Rice basketball is all those who will write their own story.
After all the ups, and after all the downs, the kid was thankful. He was thankful for those who came before him because they gave him his dream. With a heavy heart, the kid was hopeful. He was hopeful that his story would be the birth of somebody else’s dreams.
The ball is in your court…
Write your own story. Never stop dreaming.