Inside Gate 6: Former Student: Lou Carnesecca

louGraduation is coming, for some students, congratulations! It already existed in their future plan. However, for others, it may be a little more than a year away, even longer. As a senior, you probably think a same question over and over again “Where will we go from there?” Should we go and seek a job, continue our education or something else?

      St. John’s University is such a diversity university. They have students all over the world, but this diversity also caused another big issue. Yaqi Zhang, a Finance major student from China will graduate in May 2009 from St. John’s. She said, “I am very nervous about the possibility of having to leave America if I don’t receive and H-1B [work] visa.”

This is the data from 2007 to our most recent in St. John’s University:  

1. After graduation

         75% of the graduates were employed at the time of the survey

         19% are furthering their education

         6% are still seeking employment

         <1% have either relocated or are not looking for employment.

 2. Of those that are employed, there are working in the following fields

         30% are working in the field of education

         20% are working in the field of accounting

         15% are working in the health care field

         13% are working in the field of business/industry

         9% are working in the field of law of government

         4% are working in the field of communication

         3% are working in the field of non-profit/ministry

         >1% are self-employed

         6% = other

 3. Of the graduates furthering their education, they are in the following fields

         22% are getting a degree in business

         20% are getting a degree in education

         15% are getting a degree in some type of science

         12% are getting a degree in law

         10% are getting a degree in the liberal arts

         4% are getting a degree in the field of health care

         4% are getting a degree in theology

         3% are getting a degree in medicine

         10% = other

By a great honor, I interviewed a former student and a former coach at St. John’s University, Lou Carnesecca.  He led the Redmen’s basketball program to 526 wins and 200 losses over 24 seasons. He is known as a basketball legend.

       He was born January 5, 1925 in New York City, and graduated in 1950. During his coaching career, his colorful name “Looie”, team reached the playoffs in every season he coached, including a Final Four appearance in 1985. He was selected as the National Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1985 by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

 “I was lost when I got that reward,” he said. Furthermore, he confessed that it is a great feeling to be included among those coaches he used to dream about. However, as he points out, without the players, one cannot achieve what he has achieved.

Carnesecca is widely known for his sense of humor and his signature sweaters. He was once asked if he was stranded on an island, what would he carry with him. He responded that he would take himself. His reply was humorous. Carnesecca always acknowledged the importance of humor. He felt that it is not only important for an individual but also for the people who are around him, as it makes them feel good and makes them laugh.

After he graduated from St. John’s, he also coached his high school alma mater, St. Ann’s (now academic and athletic powerhouse Archbishop Molloy High School), where he was succeeded by Jack Curran. Carnesecca also coached the New York Nets of the defunct American Basketball Association in the early 1970s, when they were playing in Island Garden in West Hempstead, New York (on Long Island. They are now the NBA‘s New Jersey Nets). In addition, he was a longtime announcer for the USA Network‘s coverage of the yearly NBA drafts of the 1980s.Carnesecca was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Century Hall 101 Hall of Fame in 2007. The greatest honor in November 2004, St. John’s University officially dedicated and renamed the historic Alumni Hall to Carnesecca Arena.

What a great work experience!

Even after retirement, Carnesecca still works in St. John’s. Everyday he will be in his office on time, trying to answer as many calls as possible as his phone keeps on ringing the entire day . He is extremely busy the whole day long, and jokes “Don’t they think my office is 42nd street?”  As he is holding the phone, it is not hard to see that a big shining ring on his finger, which came from 1992. “It is very important for me, and I have never taken it off since I got it.”

Carnesecca said that his parents influenced his life the most. Since he was a little kid, his mother and father, they gave him a formal education even though they weren’t well educated. “Most of my ideology and principles of life came from my parents. My father taught me three things: to be there, don’t have short arms and helping people.”

As a person, Carnesecca is a helpful person. He always likes to help others, and he even said that he thinks he would have been doctor if he wasn’t a coach. “I have a good feeling, a very good feeling about that job because one is helping people and is a hope. I would have loved to be a hope for someone.

As a coach, he thinks that technically there has to be a balance between offense and defense. You can’t be all defense and can’t be all offense,” he asserted. He thinks that one has to allow the players to express themselves, also try to place the players in an area where they can express themselves. “Remember, one cannot be soul,” he emphasized. “We should put players in a situation where they are able to show the capabilities and where they are able to use all of their qualities; help them.

“If God could make me three dreams come true, I would pray to God to give me good health, a little bit of happiness and the ability to be a good fellow so that I could be helpful to people,” he said. His wishes are nothing spectacular, nothing great, just to be a better fellow and be in good company.

      As a husband, family is the most important thing for him. “I probably have been neglectful because I was so focused, so narrow, and always thinking about basketball and baseball,” he said and his face was turning red. “Many times, I wasn’t, I wouldn’t say caring, but I didn’t do as much I should have done for my family even when I was home. Sometimes, Mary [his wife] would prepare the meal and start talking to me about the things of the day, but my mind was 6,000 miles away, thinking about a fellow who doesn’t get the free balls. I feel I wasn’t there for my family, particularly for my wife.  Although I was neglectful in many ways, we have been married for 57 years so she has got to be a saint.”

“There are a lot of things I could have done better, like I said; I wish I would have been more aware of my family. They are a big part of me, he said with a sparkle in his eyes. “Age teaches you that.

The wall of his office is hanging all over the pictures and award from his history, people can tell his stories by only watching the wall. There is a poem on the wall of his office got people’s eyes:

“Coach”

A great coaching era has come to an end

For a man know as Louie better known as a friend

Who regardless of the score told each man to stand tall

Your presence will forever be at Alumni Hall

For when it came down to coaching there was never one better

He had style and he had flare… well except for his sweaters

He grew wiser and more clever as each your would pass

And even in defeat coach always showed class

No excuses or finger pointing or tricks of the mind

Just some words of encouragement like “We’ll get them next time”

You’d seemingly produce magic when they expected the least

And you helped give birth to a conference called the Big East

With your energy and vigor we hoped you’d never step down

From your stage called the bench where you lit up this town

It was truly an honor to be part of your team

You helped me to grow and realize my dream

For you this was special more than awards on a shelf

But your accomplishments are endless your record speak for itself

Many came and fell from the coaching ranks

Yet you were a constant and for this we say thanks

So here you stand as a giant with respect from your peers

On this joyous occasion with no place for tears

I wish you the best in all lifes endeavors

And the legacy of Lou Carnesecca will live on forever!

By Mark A. Jackson

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