September/October 2019 - 56

Dr. Jack Ramsay:
MY 60 YEARS IN
BASKETBALL
By Dr. Jack Ramsay
Editor's note: Throughout the year, Coach & Athletic Director is going back 25 years to share some of our best
articles from 1994. The publication, formerly Scholastic Coach magazine, is in its 89th year of production. This
article, written by Hall of Fame basketball coach Dr. Jack Ramsay, was published in our October 1994 edition.
My interest in basketball began as a youngster in
Milford, Connecticut, where the father of one of my
friends was headmaster of a private prep school. On
Saturday mornings, he would allow a bunch of us to play
" basketball " in the gym.
It was totally unsupervised - wild, error-filled forays up
and down the court, the player with the ball dribbling at
top speed toward his basket, his eyes riveted on the ball.
Teammates ran after him, shrieking his name, begging
him to pass the ball. The only time the dribbler gave up
the ball was when defenders knocked it loose or cut off all
possible avenues to the hoop.
The process was then repeated by the next player with
ball possession until someone took a shot. Occasionally, a
goal was scored. After everyone had had a chance with the
ball, the process was repeated. Basketball it was not, but
we had fun and kept at it until totally exhausted.
As crude as those efforts were, I felt a great fascination
for this game. My dad attached a hoop to the barn behind
our house and I spent hours out there, year round,
learning to dribble and shoot. My backyard soon became a
kind of center for other kids who liked basketball.
We played half-court games, and like most kids in rural
lots or urban playgrounds all over the United States, we
accidentally learned to pass, screen, rebound and defend,
as well as dribble and shoot. That experience helped
prepare thousands of kids like myself for organized
basketball at the school level.
Learning the game
My family moved to the Philadelphia area when I was in
10th grade. I enrolled in a larger school and faced a much
stronger level of basketball competition. The reigning
power in Pennsylvania at the time was Lower Merion High
School, a conference rival of my school, Upper Darby. In
my three years of basketball, Lower Merion won the State
Championship each year.
The experience taught me what kind of impact a
coach can have on his team. Lower Merion's coach, Bill
Anderson, played the same game every year, executing
56 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019
Photos courtesy of Saint Joseph's Athletics

September/October 2019

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