A friend of a friend-Jack Bruen and Tom Cruthers-March 24

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for March 24, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

I believe we all have people in our lives that we probably have not thanked enough for the successes we experienced later in life. We all have been influenced by someone who probably does not know the true impact they have had on our lives. One of those people for me is my high school coach-Tom Cruthers. Tom was my coach at Morristown HS in New Jersey from 1971-1975. He was the school’s basketball, cross-country, and track &field coach. Those were the days before coaching specialization and Tom did it all.

Tom was also a larger than life figure for me because he was large-6’9” large. He was a red-head that was emotional and he was a competitor. He was a coach that won a state championship, coached state champions, and really cared about his players.

Tom was from West Orange, NJ and went to college at Colgate University. He was a member of their varsity basketball teams from 1963-1965 and played freshman basketball in 1962. He is listed in the Colgate Record books in several categories including career rebounds, career field goal percentages, and season free throw percentage.

How Tom influenced me was being around him I knew I wanted to coach. He also instilled in me the compassion to get to know his players and do things with them away from the court, track, or running trails. Tom Cruthers took me to my first and only summer camp in Easton, PA, he took me to West Point to watch Army play his alma mater Colgate, he presented me and every member of the teams he coached with a season ending scrapbook, and he introduced me to the concept of team bonding when every summer he would take our team on a 3 day – 2night canoe trip down the upper Delaware River. Tom Cruthers coached all different races and nationalities at Morristown HS and he was fair to all of us.

Today Tom and his wife Rhodie own and operate Manchester Sports and Clothing in Manchester Center, Vermont like they have done for the past thirty years. In the early days, the store sold everything from sporting goods to live bait. Still going strong and focused on apparel and footwear, these days you’ll find a wide range of products for men, women and kids (no bait, sorry !).

Tom’s wife Rhodie is from Alabama and following the Crimson Tide is a passion for both of them. Tom has been known to make a trip to Las Vegas especially during the NCAA Tournament. During the 1990’s he was so proud of his alma mater Colgate making it to the NCAA Tournament during the Adonis Foyle and Coach Jack Bruen era in Hamilton, NY. Tom was very proud of Jack Bruen for how he influenced and lived his life.

Wikipedia link on Adonis Foyle below his picture.

adonis foyle


The Friend-Tom Cruthers-Picture below of Manchester Sports and Clothing

Mancehster Sports and Clothing

The Friend of the Friend-Jack Bruen

Jack Bruen

The power of coaches to influence

Jack Bruen was the coach at Colgate University from 1989-1997. He was born on Mar. 25, 1949 in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. He attended Power Memorial High School, where he was a teammate of Lew Alcindor, otherwise known as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar.

After high school, Jack Bruen attended Catholic University (Wash. DC) and started for three years as their point guard.  After graduating from Catholic University, Bruen became an assistant coach at Dematha Catholic High School under legendary coach Morgan Wootten.

Jack Bruen was always known for his fiery personality. In his first year at Dematha, he was the head freshman coach. In his very first game, Bruen was ejected after arguing the initial call of the game. I think getting ejected on the first play of your coaching career is a record that will never be broken.

Colgate hired Bruen in 1989; four years later Colgate won 18 games, a school record. Colgate won two Patriot League titles and appeared in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament in 1995 and 1996.

Jack after being diagnosed with cancer before the start of the 1997 season, decided to go for chemotherapy treatments, and hoped to coach for the entire season, he only missed one game against St. John’s on December 10th. He returned to Colgate to and coached his final game against Marist College on December 13, 1997, an 80-69 win. He died six days later.

Understanding the grave nature of Bruen’s illness, many of those who had played for Bruen attended that last game against Marist, traveling from as far away as Texas.

Today there are many coaches and players that are products of Jack Bruen. Some of those players and coaches who have been influenced by Jack Bruen may not have the opportunity to tell him thanks before he passed for what he meant, hopefully must of them did.

My goal this week is to tell my coach Tom Cruthers thanks for all of his positive influence. Hope you will do the same for someone in your life.

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