#JoeGallagher November 19

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In 2020 some Coach4aday posts will feature lessons learned by completing, planning, and experiencing 30 day challenges. The challenges include physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.

Joe Gallagher

One of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of UNC Pembroke Athletics has to be Joe Gallagher. When you look at his accomplishments you realize he was an AUGUST (30 Day Vocabulary Challenge) competitor.

A 1968 graduate of UNC Pembroke, he posted four-year averages of 20.1 points and 13.3 rebounds per game, and was honored by his collegiate alma mater in 1980 and 2010 with an induction into the school’s Hall of Fame and No. 24 jersey retirement. Joe is still the school’s all-time career scorer with 2,161 points. Following his collegiate playing career, Gallagher was drafted by the Kentucky Colonels (ABA) in 1968.

Today happens to be Joe’s 80th Birthday. Much to his dismay his daughter Christy Gallagher Lynch has planned a surprise for him.

(l-r) Sharon Gallagher, Joe Gallagher, Christy Gallagher Lynch, and her son Dennis-Feb 2010

The life that Joe has lived the past 80 years is captured with words like loyalty, basketball, laughter, competition, Marines, Philadelphian, UNC Pembroke, family, and friendship. When it comes to friendships amongst college basketball coaches there are few that can hold a candle to Joe.

(l-r) Bob Burke, Joe Gallagher, and Dan Kenney

Joe career has taking him from a prep school basketball coach in Maxton NC to the N.B.A working as a coach with both the Philadelphia 76’ers and Boston Celtics .

Prior to coaching in the NBA he spent 2 years as head coach at Methodist College (1973-75), 3 years at UNC Pembroke (1975-78) and 1 year at Belmont Abbey College (1991-92).  Joe also did two tours of duties as an assistant coach at the University of Richmond (1979-86 and 1992-96), Boston College (1986-91), UNC Greensboro (1996-99) and Campbell University (1999-2002).  As an assistant coach at the University of Richmond, Gallagher helped guide the Spiders to two NCAA Tournament appearances as well as a pair of NIT berths. The 1986 Richmond squad, under the direction of head coach Dick Tarrant, advanced to the NCAA Tournament and in the process eliminated an Auburn team that included future NBA stars Charles Barkley and Chuck Person.

He loves and knows the game of basketball but more importantly he know the power of relationships.

If you mention Joe’s name to just anyone who has ever met him they immediately have a story. In fact most people have multiple stories that will make you smile, laugh, and feel good about mankind.

Today Joe lives in North Myrtle Beach SC and I am sure there will be much to celebrate and relive at his private surprise birthday celebration. I have lots of fantastic stories about Joe but here is one of my favorites.

Joe was a lot of things but being a careful driver was not one of his strong suits. In the winter of 1975 Joe had used the UNCP Athletic Station Wagon to take a basketball recruiting trip to Philadelphia. During that trip the vehicle was parked on a Philly side street and got side swiped.

Example of Station Wagon UNCP Athletic Department owned in 1970’s

When Joe got back to Pembroke he had to report the damaged vehicle to Lacey Gane who was Joe’s college coach for three years and the current Director of Athletics. Lacey is a member of UNCP Hall of Fame.

Lacey was fuming and really upset with Joe and banned him from driving a UNCP vehicle. Lacey didn’t believe Joe’s story and thought Joe was actually at fault due to past vehicle incidents. After all Joe was guilty of once having all of his furniture fall off the back of pick-up truck.

Lacey and Joe had a unique relationship they could be steaming mad at each other one day and the next day bygones were actually bygones. Well in the spring of 1976 Lacey had removed the vehicular ban on Joe after the station wagon had gone under some body work from the Philly side swipe.

Joe checked the station wagon out for the first time to go on a recruiting trip back to Philly. He was still on campus near the Livermore Library in the station wagon when he spotted Dr. Bob Reising walking on the passenger side of the car. Joe was receiving reports that a player in Bob’s class was struggling and with two weeks to finals Joe wanted to get an update. He screeched on the brakes and blew the horn to get Dr. Reising’s attention.

Joe leaned over the front seat and began to try and manually roll down the passenger side window. Dr. Reising was frantically waving his arms and not coming to the car. Joe thought maybe he was in a hurry for class but wanted to get that window down and shout out something to Bob. Bob just kept waving his arms.

At about the moment Joe got the window rolled down two things happened simultaneously. First Bob Reising got a look of utter disbelieve on his face; and second the university’s garbage truck backed over the entire front end of the station wagon. The garbage truck was backing out of the alley beside the library removing trash.

Joe was momentarily stunned and realized he could not exit the station wagon thru the driver side door. He climbed his 6’8”’ frame over the front seat and exited the car out the passenger side door and examined the extensive damage with Bob Reising who now told his friend I was waving for you to get out of the way didn’t you see me?

Joe could not believe the damage to the car. The entire front end was flat to the ground. The two front tires looked like pancakes. The car was totaled.

Joe walked the 75 yards from where he picked up the car and marched into Lacey Gane’s office and broke the news to him. Lacey grabbed the keys slammed them down on his desk and told Joe “You are the reason I’m bald and have got ulcers” Get out of my office.

Two days later they were drinking beer together.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE GALLAGHER-You have made this world a better place.

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