Sunday, January 8, 2012

Special Edition: Eddie Pomykala's "View from the Q"

Eddie pays tribute to Coach Konchalski's for his 800th victory.

The story tonight is about about one man and one man only. My former coach- Steve Konchalski and his attaining his 800th career win. What an amazing accomplishment. To put that into perspective, I only coached some 600 games, never mind winning so many. It is a testament to Steve's ability as a leader, as a motivator, as a tactician and most of all as a teacher. Incomprehensible to me what he has accomplished and I am so proud to have played for him, learned under him and coached against him.

Coming out of Dawson College in the late 70's- I chose to attend STFX for one reason (he probably won't be happy to see me write this)- I wanted to become a basketball coach. I figured I could learn from one of the best in the country. Little did I know that Steve would become a Canadian coaching icon. I first encountered Steve when he was an assistant at Loyola College (now Concordia) where one of his players was John Dore. Steve, being a former Acadia Axeman, had a close relationship with my Dawson coach- Richie Spears. Steve made sure to attend our weekly intra squad scrimmages each Wednesday. Those may have been the best college games in Montreal. The guys on the team liked Steve- so much so that ultimately teammates: Varouj Gurunlian, Wayne Smith, Pat Adrien, Henry Blumenfeld and later Ed Muha, made the trek to the maritimes to enrol at STFXU. I was an easy catch for Steve- while never pretending to be a blue chip recruit- Steve was somewhat interested in me as a player. Here's how my recruitment went: I called Steve and said the following: "Coach, you are coming to my house to have supper with our family so that you can explain to my parents that I am going to STFX." That was it- no games, no bull- I knew that I wanted to continue what I had at Dawson which was a first class basketball education and I knew that Coach K would provide that for me and more. It was no coincidence, that while I was never more than 7th or 8th man at X, I always sat next to him during games so I could learn my future craft better.

When I applied for the Bishop's job in 1984, Steve wrote the finest and most sincere letter of recommendation anyone can receive on my behalf. I still have a copy of that letter. When I was struggling toward the end of my career, Steve wrote me another letter- this one was filled with encouragement and reminding me of some of the things that I had been able to accomplish as a coach. More importantly, Coach  reminded me never to lose sight of the values of being a coach and a teacher. He was there for me when I needed it most just like he has been for all his players over the years. That's Coach K's trademark. That's why I revere him so highly and that is why everone in the Canadian basketball community has to have only the highest respect for what he has been able to accomplish.

Congratulations Coach, more importantly- thank you!


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