Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, November 07, 2014

"Celtic" Tom Freedman, Longtime Philly Women's Basketball Summer League Coach, Memorialized

By Mel Greenberg

The Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women’s Summer League lost one of its longtime coaches recently when “Celtic” Tom Freedman passed away at age 60 on Oct. 25 after a long illness.

“My family and I were just heartbroken when we heard the news,” said former Saint Joseph’s star Katie Kuester, who is now an assistant coach at Loyola, Maryland, but also played a long time in the league on championship teams headed by Freedman and Ted Hagedorn.

“He was one of the reasons I loved the league and we always took a color green because of his love for the Boston Celtics.”

Freedman was also close friends with former La Salle coach John Miller, who is currently the girls high school coach of Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy, which is located in Flourtown just north of the city and competes in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies.

Miller is going to be one of the speakers Saturday morning in a Celebration of Life Service at Flourtown Country Club where the service will get under way promptly at 11 a.m.

“He was one of my best friends,” Miller said, “and of course all our players knew him and liked him very much.

“Jen Cole (Davis) called when she heard the news and conveyed her condolences to me and the family,” Miller referred to the Explorers' all-time scorer with 1,875 points who played at La Salle 1989-93.

“When I got to the Mount, he came to all our games and he had this knack of predicting the outcome and score of a lot of them,” Miller said. “One time I remember our president said to me, `Your friend Tom is quite a genius.’”

Miller said from 1985 moving forward he and Mr. Freedman always would go to Boston for a game when the Celtics were in the playoffs.

“In fact, the family mentioned that since Tom was cremated it would be nice if I could make a trip to Boston and sprinkle some of his ashes up where the Celtics play.

"They also asked if another of our former La Salle players, Jen McGowan, who was on many of his summer teams, could say a few words at the service Saturday.”

McGowan was also a senior co-captain in 1993.

David B. Kessler, who has been commissioner of the summer league for two decades, said, “We are going to really miss him. He was devoted to the league and a big supporter.

“I know he pre-dates me,” Kessler said of how long Mr. Freedman coached in the league.

Former La Salle star Kelly Greenberg, who coached Penn to two Ivy titles and also coached at Boston University and whose brother Chip played for the Explorers men’s team, emailed several recollections to be posted in this blog.

“Celtic Tom was a terrific guy who touched many, many people," Greenberg wrote.

“I really got to know Tom as a Johnny Miller `guy.’

“As you know, Coach Miller always had a following. And, the `following’ were extremely supportive and always fun, that's for sure. (And I'm sure you know)

“A few Celtic Tom memories (of many):

1. I remember after we won a big game at Holy Cross; the coaches and parents were going out for drinks to celebrate our win.

“The Irish pub in Worcester did not allow Tom to enter because he was wearing a tee- shirt. (Surprise, surprise).

“Tom went back to the hotel and returned to the pub in a 3-piece suit!! This was not to show-up management or anything along those lines.....

“He simply had only packed this suit and his infamous line of Celtic tees!!!!

2. Celtic Tom was our summer league coach at Lawncrest recreation for several years in the Philadelphia summer league. (Tom continued to coach after I moved out of area).

“At the time, we were considered the young team......Some of my teammates: my sister Kathy, my cousin Jenny McGowan, UConn's Meghan Pattyson, Georgetown's Trish Corace, and St. Joe's Katie Curry.

“Tom loved every minute of coaching that team all summer. He loved basketball! And he loved working with people and sharing who he was. A kind man with a big heart.

"3. We used to hang out at a bar called ‘Hoops’ over in the Northeast.

“This bar had an actual FT lane and hoop!!! No one could beat Tom in taps (FT game).

“A family friend of mine was visiting from County Mayo in Ireland and I took him to Hoops for a few pints.

“At the time, Liam, was the best basketball player in all of Ireland.

“Celtic Tom beat Liam all 5 times they competed!! Til this day, Liam still claims (in his Irish brogue): "The big Celtic man just may have the softest shooting touch I've ever seen."

"4. My sister Kathy and I attended the last Celtics game in the old Boston Garden with Celtic Tom in 1995.

“What a night!

“I truly believe that Tom was at his happiest when he was on Causeway Street.

“After departing the old Garden for the last time on such a high note, I will never forget Tom's face when Kathy and I told him we sold our tickets stubs for 50 bucks each.

“Here we were so happy to have some extra cash - only to completely disappointment Tom!

“I will never forget his facial expression and his slow response: `You sold them?’

“We felt so bad.

“However, I must add, I continued to joke with Tom for years, that I would sell them again!

“Ha.”

Mr. Freedman, who formerly lived in East Oak Lane in the city’s northwest, lived in Oreland and was the cherished son of Nancy Freedman and the late Arthur Freedman and is survived by his brother Jim and two sisters - Diane (Drinker) and Patricia – and three nephews and a niece – Paul Freedman and Daniel, Williams and Emily Drinker.

Relatives and friends are invited to the service at Flourtown Country Club, 150 McCloseky Road, Flourtown, Pa., where a reception will follow the service.

According to the John F. Murray funeral home, the family requests memorial contributions may be made to Melmark, a service provider of children and adults with special needs, at 2600 Wayland Road, Berwyn, Pa.

See more at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/philly/obituary.aspx?n=thomas-freedman&pid=173029380&fhid=4492#sthash.QjB9wiz3.dpuf

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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