By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – On Jan. 15, with an impressive 80-37 triumph over Holy Name of Worcester, St. John's High School basketball coach Bob Foley realized his 800th career win. With this victory, Foley became the second high school coach in New England to reach 800 career wins, joining retired St. Joseph High School (Conn.) coach Vito Montelli. Following that historic victory, Foley's career record stood at 800-329 with 16 Division 1 Central Mass. titles and state championship wins in 2000 and 2009. As of Jan. 28, the Pioneers” record for 2012-2013 was 9-3.
Foley graduated from College of the Holy Cross in 1963 where he played center for the Crusaders. He began his head coaching career at St. Peter-Marian in Uxbridge that same year. After an 11-year run as head coach, he took a job teaching history and coaching basketball at St. John's. He was named the school's athletic director (AD) in 1981. Although Foley retired from his teaching and AD positions in 2010, he remains head basketball coach. In all, he has over 50 years on the court and counting.
Foley, who was inducted into the Massachusetts Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, credits his players and their families for his success as a coach.
“I have been fortunate to have players who are intelligent, who come from good families and who listen,” he said. “It is because of them that I am able to do my job successfully.”
His philosophy, he said, is to help each player to come as close as possible to reaching his personal potential. In doing so, Foley places a large emphasis on having fun and making sure that his players come away from the program with a positive experience.
Foley's wife, Joan (a retired teacher), has been the official team score keeper since 1984.
“She has a great rapport with the officials, the players and the opposing coaches,” he said.
After more than a half century on the court, Foley's love for the game and his players has not waned.
“Coaching [basketball] is the most rewarding thing I could ever do,” Foley said. “To be able to form these young men into good players and good people is an honor. At the end of the day, it is all about the kids.”
Retirement is not something the 71-year-old Foley is contemplating at this time.
“My proudest accomplishment is 50 years as head coach,” Foley said. “I have learned to enjoy every year that I can work and, as long as I am healthy, I will continue doing what I love.”
For more on Foley's historic achievement, go to the St. John's website, http://www.stjohnshigh.org/s/804/index.aspx?sid=804&gid=1&pgid=308.