Monday, April 12, 2010
For Coach O'Toole, it's all about passing the Torch -
Slice of Rye
For Coach O’Toole, It’s All About Passing the Torch –
“Hold it!” bounces off the walls of the Midland Elementary School gymnasium with such intensity that everyone stops on a dime and immediately looks up at the source of the command. In a flash, the coach responsible for this play stoppage leaps into action, grabs the basketball and with the energy of a whirling dervish on Red Bull demonstrates what he just witnessed and proceeds to calmly explain to this group of 7- and 8-year-olds the proper way to pass the basketball.
Although the venue this Saturday morning is a long way from the hallowed hardwood floors of Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium or Syracuse’s Carrier Dome, watching Tim O’Toole go about his business with these young players at the Rye YMCA youth basketball program, you would think he was right back in the middle of the Big East tournament or scrambling for a loose ball in the NCAA tourney at his alma mater Fairfield University.
The passion and energy for the game on display has not changed a bit since O’Toole’s coaching and playing days (it is hard to believe he no longer drinks three pots of coffee a day) and if you did not actually witness the audience of young basketball players he was addressing, you could easily assume they were college players with whom he was working. His approach is the same, filled with intensity and heart.
Since leaving Fairfield as head coach of the men’s basketball program in 2005, the former MAAC Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year has been in perpetual motion and shows no signs of slowing down.
The 19-year coaching veteran has taken a page from his father, the late Thomas O’Toole, an All-American basketball star and Hall of Fame inductee at Boston College, who instead of pursuing a professional career in basketball dedicated his years to coaching and mentoring at the high school and lower levels.
As his dad did decades before him, O’Toole continues to give back what he was blessed to learn over his career to the future stars of basketball.“I remember my Dad dedicating so much of his time to helping so many kids become better players, but more importantly to becoming quality young people. I guess I am hoping we can keep passing the torch, or in this case the basketball, so our kids and many other kids will benefit just as we did.”
As a member of the Rye YMCA’s Board of Directors, O’Toole has volunteered his time, experience and passion for excellence with young basketball players the past three years. He can be found almost every Saturday during the hoop season at the gym instructing, coaching and mentoring.
It is rare that a youth basketball program has such unfettered access to someone with O’Toole’s degree of coaching experience and knowledge; his was developed over a nearly twenty-year career at top Division 1 basketball programs like Duke, Syracuse, Seton Hall, West Point, Fordham, Fairfield and Iona.
O’Toole’s basketball résumé is not lost on the parents of these young players.
“It is wonderful to watch him interact with these children. He obviously brings a tremendous amount of hoop knowledge and experience to this program, yet he is able to translate that down to 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds and they really respond and get it,” says Shaun Lawrence of Rye, whose twin sons Cameron and Christian were both in the YMCA program with O’Toole.
Rye efforts aside, a mere glimpse at O’Toole’s weekly schedule is enough to make your head spin.
He currently works full time as the Director of Business Development at Classroom 24-7, a leading firm in the e-learning arena. In addition to that and being a father of three, O’Toole is an adjunct professor at Fordham’s Graduate School of Business, where he has written a book and presents seminars on “Allied Effort”, a refreshing philosophy he designed on how to create, build, lead and sustain championship-level teams in all aspects of life.
As if this were not enough to occupy him, O’Toole is also a television and radio broadcaster with ESPN, currently providing the color analysis for many NCAA games including the NIT Tournament, and several Big East games. He teamed up with Bob Huessler of WFAN to broadcast several Fairfield University men’s basketball games on the radio this past season.
One has to wonder if O’Toole looks to return to coaching basketball at the highest echelons.
“Coaching and teaching are in my blood,” says O’Toole. “The life lessons learned from being involved in team sports have tremendous ramifications for people later in life. At West Point, the Douglas MacArthur Monument reminds all the cadets ‘upon the fields of friendly strife, are sown the seeds that upon other days, upon other fields, will bear the fruits of victory.’” He adds, “I am glad that my many experiences in basketball can now benefit so many other young players, and I am always open to coaching, at any level of the game, where I can lend that experience and insight to help people achieve their goals.”
Author - Doug Flaherty, Rye, NY