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Molloy Honors Legacy of Jack Curran, Launches the Curran Fund

by Bianca Basone '15 and Joe Sommo '03

*Note: Full photo gallery from the event will be made available next week.


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2023 marked the 10 year anniversary of the passing of Coach Jack Curran, the winningest coach in New York State history. For nearly 60 years, Mr. Curran served as an outstanding coach, a role model to countless athletes, an inspiring man of faith, and a friend to many at Molloy and beyond. To honor his ongoing legacy, Molloy held the Jack Curran Gala on September 20, 2023, using the event to retire Mr. Curran’s iconic #5 jersey as well as memorialize his basketball win total of 972.

The Gala welcomed back Molloy athletes spanning many decades, as well as other alumni, family, and friends to celebrate Mr. Curran’s lasting footprint on Molloy athletics. He was a unifying, inspiring force for Molloy and throughout the larger sports world, and his wide-reaching impact and influence has inspired the creation of The Curran Fund. The Curran Fund’s goal is to provide a deserving student with a four-year scholarship to attend Molloy, and support for the fund began in earnest leading up to the Gala. In addition to the launch of the new fund, current Molloy basketball and baseball players unveiled large plaques highlighting Mr. Curran’s #5 jersey number and basketball win total of 972, which will now permanently reside on the walls of the Jack Curran Gymnasium. The gym also features new decals and signage further celebrating Mr. Curran and Stanner teams.

Mr. Mike McCleary, welcoming those in attendance, said, “I believe the people in this room often think about how [Coach Curran] made us feel. He made us feel great. Maybe it was for a moment or maybe a lifetime, but he brought greatness out in all of us. Through his guidance, we learned to perform at our best.”

Mr. Jim Larrañaga ’67, Head Coach of men’s basketball at the University of Miami, was Molloy’s special guest and the evening’s MC. Coach Larrañaga graciously took time out of his very busy schedule to help pay tribute to his coach, mentor, and friend, Jack Curran. Coach Larrañaga first chatted and took photos with many in attendance. He later delivered a keynote speech, sharing several personal stories about Mr. Curran, all illustrating the type of man he was. Coach Larrañaga spoke of Mr. Curran's strategic mind, always thinking about players and lineups for games — even in casual conversation. Coach Larrañaga recalled his many conversations with Mr. Curran during his attempted recruitment of Kenny Smith ’83, who eventually ended up going to North Carolina. He also shared a story about how Mr. Curran helped Larrañaga’s ill father get admitted into a top hospital where he would be cared for by the best doctors. “That was the kind of man he was,” said Coach Larrañaga. He also emphasized that he never uses vulgarity in his own coaching style, and that is because Mr. Curran never did so. He concluded by saying, “I love Molloy, I love Mr. Curran. He was my role model, and everything I’ve done in coaching…I hope he’d be proud. [Coach Curran] was always there to encourage you, motivate you, and lead you in the right direction. To me, he’s not only a hall of fame coach, a legend, an icon – the winning he did in baseball and basketball, nobody is ever going to match that combination. He was truly, truly one of a kind.”

The Jack Curran Gymnasium was filled with history on September 20th, as many esteemed alumni came out to show their support at the Gala. Some attendees included: Otoja Abit ‘03 (St. John’s University, Actor, Film Director), Uka Agbai ‘99 (Boston College), Mike Baxter ‘02 (MLB, Mets), Ed Braunstein ‘99 (Assemblyman, Queens District 26), Matt Bourne ‘91 (MLB Communications) Bob Carver (baseball and basketball at Molloy), Chris Caputo ‘98 (Head Coach, Men’s Basketball, George Washington University), Eugene Doris ‘66 (former Fairfield University Athletic Director), John Dunne (Marist College Men’s Basketball Coach), Sundiata Gaines ‘04 (NBA, Jazz, Timberwolves, Raptors, Nets), John Gallagher (Coach, Manhattan College), Kevin Joyce ‘69 (Olympian), Tom Kearns ‘54 (NCAA Champion, North Carolina), Ed Kull ’99 (Molloy School Board Member, Fordham University Athletic Director), Billy Mitaritonna ‘90 (St. John’s University, Author), Dennis O’Grady ‘07 (Former MiLB, Padres), Whitey Rigsby ‘74 (Player, Development, Villanova) Matt Rizzotti ‘04 (Former MiLB, Phillies, Twins, A’s), Barry Rohrssen (Player at St. Francis College, former Head Coach at Manhattan College), Nick Trotta ‘95 (MLB Media) and Brian Winters ‘70 (NBA, Bucks), and many others. Molloy was also humbled to be joined by Coach Curran’s nephew Gerard and niece Maria.

Otoja Abit shares, “It was remarkable to see generations of players gathered in one room,” with Mr. Ed Kull adding that “the energy, enthusiasm, and Stanner love in the Jack Curran Gym” made him feel like he was 16 years old again. Author Billy Mitaritonna reflected on the evening saying, “Coach Curran impacted so many lives in a positive way, it’s great that they’re doing a scholarship fund in his honor, and retiring his numbers – the first retired numbers in the school’s history – he deserves it.” Whitey Rigsby added, “A great night honoring one of the most important and influential individuals in my life and the lives of so many young men. To be able to catch up with Kevin Joyce, Brian Winters, Jim Larrañaga, and my teammates from the 1974 City Championship team was a memory I will not soon forget.”

Having such prominent figures from across the sports world return to Molloy on a Wednesday night was “inspiring,” noted President Richard Karsten ‘81, who said the presence of so many of Coach Curran’s players, colleagues, and friends was a “reminder of how Coach Curran, the Marist Brothers, and all our teachers and mentors at Molloy have made such a remarkable impact on our lives.” All in attendance shared an unmatched admiration for Coach Curran, and felt grateful to be celebrating such a prominent figure in their lives.

During the event, it was announced that the Gift Challenge in support of The Curran Fund has been extended through November 1st. Two amazing donors will be matching all gifts made to The Curran Fund 2:1 up to $75,000. That means any gift to the fund can have even more impact. Click the button below to visit our donate page and make a gift by November 1st.

Craig Katinas ‘93, Molloy’s Executive Director of Development, closed out the program saying, “Tonight we are not closing a chapter, but immortalizing a legacy. The numbers 5 and 972 now serve all of us as mile markers on the road of our baseball and basketball histories, reminding us of the countless victories, lessons learned, and the enduring impact of a great coach. Let it also remind us that we are a part of this rich history and can play a critical role in preserving our past, and make a positive impact on our present and future, just as Coach did for all of us in this room and beyond.”

The evening concluded with a special video tribute produced by our friends at Major League Baseball, including narration provided by the legendary Bob Costas! You can view the video in the player below.