Al Keglovits

by Pete Nevins

Before he was a coach, before he was a teacher and before he was a husband and father, Al Keglovits was a basketball player. He played the game as he later taught it, with passion, intelligence and verve. Keglovits was a four-year player at East Stroudsburg University from 1970-74 and a member of some of the best teams in the Warriors' basketball history. So it is appropriate that he will be honored Sunday on the same Koehler Fieldhouse court where he played so successfully close to 30 years ago. Keglovits, who died of cancer in January, 2001, will be recognized and remembered as part of the festivities surrounding the first Arthur Perryman Basketball Classic Sunday at ESU Senior stars from the seven Mountain Valley Conference high schools plus Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg, will compete with the girls playing at 3 p.m. and the boys at 5. And one of the girls playing will have a familiar last name. Kate Keglovits was a senior player at East Stroudsburg South High School where her father taught and coached and where her mother, Linda, is a guidance counselor. Kate will be trying to put points on the Koehler Fieldhouse scoreboard just as her father did in the early 1970s. Most people know about Al Keglovits' legacy as a coach and teacher and as one of the most beloved sports figures in the community, but few remembered that he also was an outstanding player right here in their backyard. Al came to the Poconos from Whitehall High School in 1970 to play for long-time coach Ken Sisson at ESU. The 6-4 forward was one of the leading scorers on the school's freshman team which posted a 16-2 record. He was a reserve on a 20-4 team as a sophomore and then started for two years for teams which finished 23-4 when he was a junior and then fell off to an 11-14 mark during his senior year. During his career, Keglovits was the Warriors' most accurate shooter. He made 48 percent of his field goal attempts as a junior and 49 percent as a senior. And the shooting figures were even more impressive because most of his points didn't come from underneath, but rather from the corners on outside jump shots. He had what his wife and former classmate, Linda remembers as a "pretty shot." "Even though he was a big man, he could really shoot from the outside," recalls Linda, also an ESU graduate who met Al as a freshman and went to all of his home games and some of the away contests over four years. Keglovits' college teammates remember him fondly not only as a person, but also as a player. "We entered school together and played on the same teams for four years," recalls guard Charlie Bowen, now the head basketball coach at Middletown High School. "He was an intense player with an excellent outside shot and great instincts. He knew where he was supposed to be on the court at all times." Kevin Morrissey, the team's point guard and one of the school's all-time assist leaders, recalls: "Al has great hands. You sent him a blind pass and if it were anywhere near him, he could get the ball and do something about it. He really helped the team." Center Mike Reilly, now a teacher and coach for the United States Department of Defense in Germany, writes that "Al was a strong and fundamentally-sound athlete who could mix it up under the boards had a soft shooting touch and was unselfish. Off the court, he was very friendly and approachable, a jokester who enjoyed a good laugh." Keglovits had made himself into a player. His hero was 'Pistol Pete' Marovich, the LSU and NBA star often described as the quintessential gym rat. "Al used to tell me that as a kid, he came from a working class family and they didn't have a basketball hoop. He used to walk down to the playground even during the winter, shovel snow off the court and shoot every day," Linda said. "He also would put weights on his ankles and run and continually squeezes rubber balls to strengthen his hands," said Linda. After his college graduation, Keglovits' basketball playing was limited to recreation and lunchtime ball. He always found time, however, to help his son, Michael, a former player at East Stroudsburg High School and now a junior finance major at the University of Delaware, and his daughter, Kate, who plans to attend either Muhlenberg or Scranton in the fall, learn the game. "He always stressed the fundamentals. He told them they couldn't be good players unless they knew the fundamentals of the game," Linda said. Al would love the Perryman Basketball Classic because he loved playing, coaching and being part of the sport. And also because the game is being played during month of March. "For Al, March Madness was as good as it gets. It was like Christmas for him," Linda said. And so maybe the creation of the Arthur Perryman Basketball Classic should be considered a special March Christmas present to the local basketball community in honor of Al Keglovits and Perryman.