One of the greatest high school basketball programs in the country has recently been placed in jeopardy. St. Anthony High School, an inner-city private Catholic school located in Jersey City, has become a staple of the town with their outstanding success on the basketball court. Head coach Bob Hurley Sr. has also helped strike a 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate for all but two players over 42 years, and the legendary coach is one of the major factors in St. Anthony staying open.
The goal to keep St. Anthony open has been set. The campaign has been named St. Anthony 2020. The focus is to raise $10 million this year through donations, events, auctions, appearances and more to ensure the school remains open through 2020. Earlier this week at the Knicks-Pacers game at MSG, Hurley raised awareness for the campaign with a PSA.
“I want to see St. Anthony High School live on, long after I’m gone,” he says. “I’ve done a lot with these kids on the basketball court, but St. Anthony is more for them in the classroom.
“We need to do something long range now that basketball season has started. We are hoping momentum picks up.”
Of course, the more interest, the better. St. Anthony is no stranger to the national spotlight, however. Over Hurley’s 42-year coaching tenure, he was won 25 state titles, four national championships and countless games. When asked what was the most important to him, he responded with his relationship with his players, as many graduated students come back to talk to current students about how much they love college and how important it is to graduate and move on to higher education.
“The relationship of the players and I has to be the most important,” he says. “Opening up the doors to college is very important to me.”
However, school continues to become more expensive, as rates in New Jersey for private schools rise about three to four percent per year. The $10 million will help to make up for the tuition rates at St. Anthony, which in Hurley’s words, has been working year-to-year just to get by for a long time.
Even NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is getting involved. The current TNT NBA analyst grew up in neighboring Newark, just miles away from the Jersey City school, and earlier this fall spent a day showing support and meeting with the school’s kids.
“I’m happy we’re involving more people,” Hurley says. “We hope doing this can trigger more interest.”
Hurley believes the documentary on the 2007-2008 St. Anthony team that built a 32-0 record â€“ The Streets Stop Here, airing on MSG tonight — will help raise awareness of the campaign.
“I think so,” he says. “The fact that they spent a year with us, over 300 hours, should show people what we are about.”
Hurley is hoping the documentary will draw people in, along with the campaign’s main website that will have daily stories on the school and how they are doing.
If you want to know how well the school does, you can check into the website for anything from academic progress to their sports records. This is in the hope people will see how much the school impacts the inner city students of Jersey City, where St. Anthony’s graduation rate is incredible.
More information on the campaign can be found at StAnthony2020.com.
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