Bob Hurley has appeared on a 60 MInutes profile a few years ago. He is a high school basketball coach at St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. An Irish Catholic son who stayed home, taught, inspired, and coached hundreds of basketball players at school and in leagues. He is passionate about basketball and had planned to play in the NBA. But things happen to change plans, he married, became a father to four children, he mentored and coached basketball locally.
He is the story that inspires great sports films. When Bob Hurley could have rich and gone professionally in college on the NBA as a coach, he chose to stay local, a hometown boy, and coach disadvantaged kids in Jersey City. Bob Hurley has earned a 1,000 wins; 25 New Jersey State Championships; 4 National Championships; 7 undefeated seasons; awarded 4 time National Coach of the Year; and was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame for Sports in 2012.
Bob Hurley appears to be an ordinary guy but he's not. He is an extraordinary person who contributes to improving the lives of others in his community. He confesses in this semi-autobiographical book about the loss of his infant son, Sean, and his son's Bobby's deadly car accident which nearly killed him in California. He writes about the students and basketball players who aren't what they seem to be. He offers everybody a chance to play basketball. Basketball is key to St. Anthony's survival in an era where Catholic schools are closing their doors every year. If every Catholic school had a Coach Bob Hurley, they would still be around.
He writes about Sister Alan, the Philadelphia nun who was their biggest fan, who died of cancer. There are plenty of great basketball moments to enlighten, inform, and entertain the basketball reader. Bob Hurley just isn't a coach and mentor but friend and father figure to those boys under him. They go on to play for major college teams and earn college degrees. In many ways, Bob Hurley's influence has inspired others. He is always upbeat and positive even though the school doesn't have it's own gym to play in. He writes about teamwork and giving players a chance in a positive way without being critical, negative, or cruel to them.
You can chase perfect but nothing is ever perfect in life. Bob Hurley takes lessons from his mistakes and errors and life itself.
The book should have more photographs and perhaps a chronology to establish his career. The book goes back and forth at times between the past and present. The editing needs to be more concise and clear for the reader. Still, I enjoy reading and hearing Bob Hurley's voice about his life. He could have led a very glamourous life as a big time coach but he didn't and he should be honored for that humbleness. In this book, you hear his voice as if he is sitting right next to you.
I don't know what to make of this book. It's not a season long basketball journey. It's not a biography of Bob Hurley and his thoughts on basketball. It's not an X's and O's book. Bob Hurley had 7 undefeated seasons and each is detailed in this book. It doesn't go into details about what is learned just the games they almost lost or when a player gets into trouble and can't play. There's a couple pages on Coach Hurley's start, a couple more about his kids and a couple more about his "real" job. However, it intertwined in this synopsis of these teams that aren't enjoyable. I wish there had been more stories about each team or teachable points.
This book needs something maybe Coach Hurley's personality, but it just falls flat especially compared to other books written about him and his teams. I gave it two stars based on the topic and the fact that you do learn something about Coach Hurley and his teams if you know nothing about them. I would recommend this book to members of the teams and that's about it. If you must read it then it needs to be a bargain book or a library book.
Vince Lombardi once said that no one can achieve perfection. He continued to say that chasing it has the serendipitous effect of catching excellence. Coach Bob Hurley has found this serendipity. He is one of just three high school basketball coaches to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He has turned down numerous offers to coach at college or professional levels. He has turned them all down.
This is an important question. After reading this book, I've come up with an answer. This man has a knack for turning anyone into an A-player if he is willing to be so. The latter part is the prerequisite to be in his team. It's to see that transformation, the transformation of a young person becoming an A-player is the reason the coach is still at that high school for over thirty years. At higher levels, with lots of money, players brought to him are already A-players. There wouldn't be any challenge in that.
His method to transform people to be A-players seems simple: "To do just a little bit more, a little bit better."
The book is full of interesting anecdotes, experiences, and mistakes. For the last one, Coach Hurley quotes Dean Edwards Smith, who recruited the first African-American player to the basketball team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: "What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it." Among Coach Smith's many recruits was someone named Michael Jordan.
While not much of a sports fan, "Chasing Perfect" is an excellent read. Coach Hurley offers solid advice that applies to every area of life. The book is easy to read, engaging and enjoyable. The advice extends off the court.
For example Coach Hurley talks about his teams always being in good physical condition. Why? Because it was the one thing that they could control. Talent and skills change from year to year but being in shape lays the foundation for everything. This applies to business - is the team ready, informed, and "in shape" to win?
Each section starts with the words "Hard Work." Coach Hurley is focused on winning through hard work. Everyone wants to win but few are willing to do what it takes to win. "This book is about winning. Mostly, it's a book about finding ways to win consistently, over time, but it's also about the constant search for winning moments in every part of our lives."
Much of this advice is what we've heard from our fathers: take care of the little things, habits you form in one area will impact other areas, care for your relationships and they will care for you, consistency is the most important thing, execute on the fundamentals because that is what creates wins. Might not be revelatory but solid advice that we can't be reminded of enough.
Very much enjoyed and learned from this winning coach and his book. Highly recommend.
on November 18, 2014
Wasn't nearly as good as the Miracle of St. Anthony's. Easy read but if you are looking to learn from this book, choose another. It just goes through each season and the different struggles of each team over the years. A good casual read to learn more about Coach Hurley and his program!
This book is ten times better than any basketball book I've read. Apparently, what happens in high school is even more critical than anybody touted. Also, I didn't know but now do that high school basketball stories are a lot more interesting than NBA stories.
Hurley gives a history lesson in this book. St. Anthony is symbolic of what's happened in all the urban areas of the country. It's a survivor amidst serious decay. This part is not really an uplifting story but more like celebrating the ruins of a once thriving economy. At least that's the feeling I got from reading it.
The detail of the game really came through. There is more detail and awareness than I realized. A good coach like Hurley knows what he's looking at and gives accurate assessments. I think anybody reading this book would wish they could be so good at their job as Hurley - but that's just an immediate feeling that upon reflection may subside.
I am a die-hard Tar Heel fan and a passionate Bob Hurley fan. Very few people can say the same, since most Tar Heels resent his son Bobby Hurley, who was the face of Duke Basketball during a torturous time in our history.
A friend of mine turned me on to Bob Hurley when she thrust an article about him my way to prove that Mike Krzyzewski wasn't Satan (since Bob Hurley had good things to say about him and Bob Hurley was this politically incorrect but noble coach of a small Jersey City Catholic High School basketball team (St. Anthony's). What can I say? I'm a sucker for nobility and people dedicating their lives to the most vulnerable citizens.
I read Adrian Wojnarowski's MIRACLE AT ST. ANTHONY'S, which covers a year in the life of one of Hurley's teams, and became even more of a fan. I repeatedly watched "The Street Stops Here," a documentary about a different year in the life of one of Hurley's teams. In both cases, the teams won championships. This is remarkable because St. Anthony's is a tiny school with resources so limited it boggles the mind. What makes St. Anthony's great is Bob Hurley--his competitive spirit, his indefatigable passion for learning everything about the game, his single-minded vision and rulership of his teams, and his determination to teach these kids how to not just survive in the world, but flourish.
So you'd think I'd love CHASING PERFECT, Bob Hurley's biography, written with Daniel Paisner. I read it in one night, which would indicate a compelling narrative. But, alas, it is only my enduring love and admiration for Hurley that kept me reading, and even I was tempted to skip around a bit. Part of the problem is the structure--it intersperses biography (mostly professional) and descriptions of each of the teams that had undefeated seasons, along with quotations Hurley takes to heart and teaches his teams. While it is never confusing, you can't get immersed in the narrative, because it changes so frequently. And the season descriptions aren't very riveting--though I enjoyed the ones that dealt with the teams I was already familiar with because of Wojnarowski and "The Street Stops Here."
That's exactly the issue--there isn't enough story, enough of the specific details about the kids (or Hurley) to get the reader emotionally invested. If I were the editor, I'd have insisted that each chapter work with a specific teaching or theme, with lots of tying-in to the material with anecdotes. Additionally, I'd have pushed for more personal material from Hurley--the man adores his wife, Chris, yet, she is barely mentioned. I found the parts of the book where Hurley does talk about his sons and especially Sister Alan (though he doesn't write much, what he does is so heartfelt that I was very moved). I wanted more personal narratives, or at least a cohesive template on how to "chase perfect" in life.
It's interesting what the psychologically savvy reader picks up, though. Here are some guesses:
* Hurley is a very private person and didn't want to share that much--whenever he talks about something personal, he does it with clear reluctance. I suspect Paisner tried unsuccessfully to get more out of him in that area, but was intimidated by Hurley's discomfort.
* Part of "Chasing Perfect" means never being satisfied with anything but perfection. Every time he writes about a close victory, I'm convinced they lost the game, because he presents it so negatively. It's not enough to win, but to completely dominate.
* Hurley plans to give at least part of the proceeds from the book to St. Anthony's, even though there is no mention of that in the book.
And that's why he's my hero. He never toots his own horn (the book is completely free of self-satisfaction or gloating), he is unrelentingly tough, but more on himself than anyone else, and he'd rather do something than talk about anything.
However, a book needs a talker. Wojnarowski's book is in the top four basketball books I've ever read. If you are interested in Bob Hurley, start there. Then watch the riveting "The Street Stops Here" and only then, if you feel the need, read CHASING PERFECT.
But be sure to donate what you would have paid for the book to St. Anthony's.
The book is decently written and delivers what it sets out to do. As great as Hurley has been in his career, though, I'm not sure this is who we need to hear from regarding being successful in life - it is a tried and true formula from various coaches in all sports. I'm thinking it might be played out a bit, though I was hoping for something better or newer. Having said that, take my view with a grain of salt. Perhaps you have rarely read such books or are a huge Hurley fan. If either of those things are true, you will do well to take a look.
This book is touted to be about the "most famous high school basketball coach in America". Until I received this book I never heard of Mr. Hurley. However in all fairness I am a native Kentuckian and basketball that I grew up with is normally about Kentucky and not Jersey City, New Jersey. The book is about the good times as well as hard times this coach has seen. About achieving a lot with not a lot of the "finery" coaches today insist upon, like a budget, travel budget, big office, gym, etc. His record has been astounding though with a career wining 90% plus percentage. That is just unheard of in any sports at any level.
The story tells about the smallness of St. Anthony High School , the challenge this coach faced and his ability in achieving outstanding successes. The book is not confusing to read however it does "hop around" and this is not Mr. Hurley's fault by rather the writer. You can actually read through the book quite quickly once you get started. Sports books are not for everyone and I have yet to get my spouse to read this book.
I personally think some of the sports books, including this one, and a couple of others I recently read have been short when it comes to interesting professional style of writing. I personally think a success story goes beyond the basketball games, winds and challenges on keeping a winning basketball group. I am sure there is much more to Mr. Hurley's life as a basketball, coach, teacher, husband, leader ,etc, that we have seen in this book.
The book is worth you time to read, just expect a lot if in-depth analysis like getting into the hearts and souls of the players, etc. This is all about doing not just more but a "whole lot" with a "lot less".
on July 6, 2013
Truly a man who gives his all so that his students from broken homes, poverty, siingle parent homes can achieve more than they ever realized they could . The number of disadvantaged students he sends and has sent to college on full scholarships is extraordinaryr. The proceeds of the sale of this book goes back to the school he coaches at, St Anthony's. What more can you add to this incredible human being. This is a wonderful book to read and be inspired by no matter what your station in life is,