SCOREBOARD Whirlwind summer for Hurley, topped by ESPY Award

Plans for Hurley Family Foundation and golf outing

GETTING HIS ESPY – Legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Hurley proudly displays the ESPY Award he won last month in Los Angeles. After the closure of St. Anthony High School in June, Hurley is planning the next phase of his life, the Hurley Family Foundation, a program that will begin this fall.
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GETTING HIS ESPY – Legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Hurley proudly displays the ESPY Award he won last month in Los Angeles. After the closure of St. Anthony High School in June, Hurley is planning the next phase of his life, the Hurley Family Foundation, a program that will begin this fall.

If anyone thought for a brief millisecond that Bob Hurley was going to sneak off into a quiet retirement after the closing of St. Anthony High School in June, well… guess again.
First and foremost was the biggest surprise of the summer, when Hurley was presented with an ESPY Award for Coach of the Year at the annual star-studded awards presentation at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last month.
The awards presentation took place about a month ago – Hurley has not stopped moving and traveling since – and the legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach cannot put into words the experience of receiving the award.
“This was an ESPY,” Hurley exclaimed. “Everywhere you looked, there was a celebrity. There were so many. Pedro Martinez walked right by me and I didn’t even see him. Jim Brown sat right next to me. I remember when he was tearing up the Giants at Yankee Stadium in 1957 and I was like 10 years old. There he was. It was like the Oscars or the Emmys only for sports. It was one amazing thing after another. Jeremy Renner, Bryan Cranston. It was an out of body experience.”
Hurley said that he first learned of receiving the award at the night when the newly-refurbished White Eagle Hall had its christening.
Josh Cook [the producer of the ESPYs] was at the event at White Eagle and Harlan Schlicher [a long-time St. Anthony supporter and contributor] introduced me,” Hurley said. “Harlan said that Josh was going to give me an ESPY this year and I just said, ‘Yeah, OK,’ and didn’t think much of it. But then we had about two weeks notice to get the entire family together to come to Los Angeles for the night.”
Cook’s production team flew Hurley, wife Chris, sons Bobby and Danny, daughter Melissa Ursic and their entire families to Los Angeles for the event.
“I also didn’t know if this was going to happen off-camera or on the red carpet or what,” Hurley said. “They told me I had three minutes to give a speech.”
For the first time in Hurley’s long and esteemed public speaking career, he was asked to prepare something in writing to give to the staff so the speech could be put on a teleprompter. All of his other speeches – including the one when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts seven years ago, in front of an audience of basketball royalty – were completely unprepared and unscripted.
“This time, the producers were making changes in my speech to fit the three minutes,” Hurley said. “In rehearsal, when everyone else in my family was having fun, meeting people, I officially was ready to vomit. This was on live national television. I was thinking if this was the last one ever, this is the one that everyone will remember. They told me as I was coming off stage to walk until I saw Aaron Rodgers [the great Green Bay Packers quarterback], then make a left.”
Perhaps the happiest member of the Hurley family was Melissa Ursic’s 8-year-old son Gabe, who got to meet all of his heroes, especially Stephen Curry of Golden State Warriors. Young Gabe’s picture of going to sleep that night with his grandfather’s ESPY Award went viral and was seen by more than 300,000 Facebook followers.
The family patriarch was awestruck by the evening.
“Everywhere you turned, someone was talking,” Hurley said. “One minute, I saw Danny [the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Rhode Island] talking to [Olympic swimming hero] Michael Phelps and the next, he’s talking with Terrell Owens [the former football star]. It was absolutely incredible.”
It also meant that both Hurley and his son Bobby, now the head coach at Arizona State University, had received an ESPY. Bobby Hurley received one as the top college basketball player in 1994.
“We thought about that after the fact,” Hurley said.
For most of the summer, Hurley has been busy either running basketball camps or traveling with his family. Last week, he was in the Poconos working at the Hoop Group camp for girls and had about a dozen or so Hudson County products with him.
But he’s also busy preparing the next step of his life, which will be the Hurley Family Foundation program that will be regularly held at the Golden Door Charter School, where Hurley played home games with his St. Anthony basketball teams over the last decade. In fact, the floor where the Friars played is named the Bob Hurley Court.
It’s a not-for-profit charity organization that will help youngsters in Jersey City how to properly play the game of basketball while also receiving life skills.
It’s designated for younger kids, grade school age, so that they can get a chance to play in a safe environment and learn from Jersey City’s resident Hall of Famer.
“I want to try to simulate what we used to have in CYO with Little Guys and Biddy,” Hurley said. “We’re going to get the lower baskets to have them play on. We’ll drill the kids regularly, then give them a chance to play on Saturday. We’re not having travel teams. There won’t be a Jersey City All-Stars team. We’re just giving the kids a place to play and learn and maybe they can develop into basketball players. We first want to help the kids who are within walking distance of the gym [downtown Jersey City], but if they can get there, we’ll train them.”
Hurley said that he will also help drill the high school aged kids as well at night after the little ones leave.
And the entire program will be open to girls as well.
“It’s entirely co-ed,” Hurley said. “It’s going to help the high school coaches, because they can safely send their kids to us.”
Part of Hurley’s new organization will be to take a group of kids to go see college basketball in the area, taking them to see the local schools like Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. Peter’s, Fairleigh Dickinson (coached by North Bergen native Greg Herenda and featuring former Friar Kaleb Bishop) and NJIT (featuring former Friars Mohamed Bendary and Shyquan Gibbs).
“That will be a cool thing for them,” Hurley said.
In the spring and fall months, Hurley will have organized registration for other sports, such as Jersey City PAL football and baseball.
“There’s too much specialization going on, focusing on just one sport,” Hurley said. “We want to encourage kids to play all sports.”
Hurley said that the program will begin with a few hundred Jersey City youngsters this fall, but could extend to other Hudson County municipalities in the future.
“We would ultimately like to take other kids,” Hurley said. “The goal is to reach others. We just want to give kids a chance to learn and to play. I think this is something we can do in Jersey City.”
And for the 70-year-old Hurley, that will suffice. The coaching career is over.
“It is,” Hurley said. “I’ve been coaching that long. Fifty years coaching is a long time. This will suffice. And this is where I started, coaching younger kids. Because I’ve worked camps for a long time, I think I can relate to the younger kids who listen and want to learn. If I have just a little bit of an impact, then that’s fine.”
Hurley will have to raise funds for his new program, but he’s used to fundraising, considering all the time and effort he put into getting money for St. Anthony over the last four decades.
The first organized fundraiser will be the Hurley Family Foundation Golf Outing, held at the Maplewood Country Club in Maplewood on October 5. It will be the same format as the former Bob Hurley St. Anthony Golf Outing, except there will be no memorabilia auctions or anything like it, simply just golf and a dinner.
For more information about the Golf Outing or the Hurley Family Foundation, contact Hurley via e-mail at CoachBobHurley@yahoo.com or call (201) 626-5804. Yes, for those who know the coach well, he has finally entered the computer age and has surrendered to have an e-mail address.
But it’s good to know that Hurley is still as active as he always was. When he hung up the phone – his wife’s cell, of course, as he had no battery charger with him in the Poconos – he went back to teaching and coaching young girls. It’s the life of a basketball coach, albeit the most famous one from Hudson County.

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com. You can also read Jim’s blog at www.jimhaguesports.blogspot.com.