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Abington Basketball Coach's Net Gain
Steve Chadwin's career accomplishments can be measured by the basketful.
The head basketball coach at Abington Friends School for the past 35 years is closing in on his 600th victory with a winning percentage of 70 percent and a sweet 16 Friends School League Championships.
With decades at AFS, and a decade before in a similar role at Germantown Academy — Chadwin, 68, sure has stick-to-itiveness. Indeed, his nickname — for his 6 foot-plus height — was “Sticks” when he pumped in jump shots on Germantown High’s team and then at East Tennessee State University.
The willow wonder back then has evolved into a solid stick of dynamite igniting explosive results from AFS teams that have dominated for decades.
“Steve is invaluable for his vision of education and development of character for his varsity basketball players,” said Rich Nourin, head of school at AFS.
“Much as he has a fierce competitive drive and tremendous creative skill as a basketball coach, he stands out most among his peers for being an educator first and one who lifts up all aspects of the academic and community experience for his players as being indispensable for their full development as students, athletes and people.”
There is no doubt that this Friends legend is kid-friendly. He is proud of the hundreds who have gone from the basketball boards at AFS to their law and med boards and become pillars of society.
“Many of them come back years later just to hang around,” Chadwin said with joy.
And this down-to-earth guy — “I fly under the radar,” he said — doesn’t take all the credit himself. “It takes a village of different people to raise a program such as the one we have here,” he said, giving a nod to “a good, sound administration.”
His family, too, has provided a sounding board. “It can’t be easy being a coach’s wife for 45 years,” he said of his spouse, Cherrea. But then again, she’s been there herself: She was the girls’ basketball coach at Germantown Academy while Steve headed up the boys’ program; later she spent 11 years as head of the middle school at AFS.
He is also proud of his two children, whom he calls his real legacy. His son, Jamie, now a coach at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, previously started and coached the men’s basketball team at Immaculata University. He also coached the U.S. 19-and-under boys youth basketball team that took gold at the Maccabiah Games in Israel last year.
Meanwhile, his daughter, Jessica, teaches phys ed at Villa-Maria Academy in Malvern and is head coach of its girls lacrosse team.
But being a good sport — and being a good Jewish sport — is nothing new to Chadwin, who grew up playing in the Jewish Junior Basketball League in Elkins Park. He coached the basketball team at the 2001 Philly JCC Maccabi Games and was basketball director in the ’70s at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, whose teams would compete in a league against other synagogue squads.
There’s no time out even during summer. “A big piece of my life has been Pine Forest Camp,” directing traffic for 45 years and counting on the courts of a camp with a Jewish identity.
“It’s been a great place for me; I met my wife there and my children met their spouses there.”
He’s been wed to basketball for decades, yet retirement’s not on his mind: “I’m a young 68,” he said.
He calls his upcoming Jewish Sports Hall of Fame honor “pretty cool.” And as he looks back at his time from the sideline, foremost are those moments when he’s had an impact on kids. “It’s all about getting kids to be better people.”
With characteristic humility, he said, “I’m just a teacher/ coach.”