Legendary Annapolis coach John Brady will skip court-naming ceremony

by Pat O’Malley
(Opinion Piece)

A dedication is planned for Tuesday (Jan. 23) at Annapolis High school, but the honoree John Brady is not going to attend.

It is believed to be a first, but John Brady is known for a lot of firsts, and mosts, in his illustrious boys’ basketball coaching career and it appears he believes he has not been shown the respect he deserves in his nearly 40 years at the Capital City school.

School principal Sue Chittim and athletic director Dave Gehrdes have planned a ceremony to officially name the Panthers’ basketball court after Brady. The Annapolis hoop floor was emblazoned “JOHN BRADY COURT” last summer unbeknown to the coach until a friend emailed a photo of it to him. He was not notified by the school.

Brady, who was inducted into the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 as the winningest coach in county history, announced his resignation due to health problems before the start of the 2016-17 season and his assistant Dan Smalley, son of the former Navy basketball player and coaching great, Dave Smalley (AA County Sports Hall of Fame, 1998), took the reins. Brady received an email from Chittim saying, according to Brady, “We’re going to miss you on the sideline.” He received no similar message from his athletic director.

As for the planned dedication, Brady received an email on it from Gehrdes on Jan. 16, one week before the ceremony that could have been done last year. Gehrdes sent this reporter a copy of the email he sent to Brady, on Friday, but Chittim has not responded by email or phone to a requested for comment.

“I haven’t received a phone call from either one of them,” said Brady. “I did receive another email from Gehrdes this weekend saying he hopes I will be there on Tuesday, but I’m not going to be. I have not changed my mind (Brady said Sunday) because I don’t feel this has been handled right.”

The ceremony is scheduled between the JV game at 3.30 p.m. and the boys’ varsity game slated for 5 p.m. Hardly prime time. A 7:00 p.m. game or at halftime of the 5:00 pm game may have been more appropriate.

It just so happens that Brady is an assistant to Mike Rudd at Glen Burnie this season and the Gophers play at Annapolis on Tuesday. Why would Chittim and Gehrdes want Brady to receive the honor as an opposing coach of the team of he coached for nearly 40 years?

Brady admitted that such a situation would be awkward and “uneasy,” and that even with no dedication Brady would likely have skipped that game.

In his 38-year tenure as Annapolis coach, Brady became the winningest coach in State public school history with 772 wins finishing at 772-173 (.817) before the start of the 2016-17 season with no losing seasons. Wicomico’s Butch Waller passed Brady on Jan. 10, 2017 with his 773rd victory in his 50th season. The 76-year old Waller is currently in his 52nd season with over 800 wins and over 350 losses, placing 2nd in wins in state overall history only to legendary DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten who had 1,274 in 46 seasons at the Catholic school.

Brady now ranks 4th with former St. Maria Goretti coach Cokey Robertson third with 790 wins, 698 in 34 seasons at Goretti and the other wins at Westminster and Thomas Johnson in his 40 years overall. Brady’s winning percentage of .817 is second only to Wootten’s .868 (1,274-192).

Along the way, Brady, a Mount St. Joseph and University of Maryland graduate who taught accounting and marketing and was an Academic Advisor from 1994 to 2004, posted Anne Arundel County records of: most county titles (21), most region titles (17), most 20-win seasons (23), most consecutive wins over county opponents (76), 1999-2004, most state tournament appearances (17), most times named Coach of the Year (8).

Brady, who led the Panthers to the Class 4A State championship by 106-102 over High Point in 1990 in one of the greatest highest high school games ever played at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House, is the first in state history to coach boys and girls teams simultaneously (2001-04) when he also ran the Panthers’ girls team.

Some 85 percent of Brady’s former players went on to attend college, many of them playing Division I basketball as well. In addition, Brady is very proud of many of his former players, such as Annapolis coach Smalley and Annapolis head football coach Nick Good-Malloy, who have gone on to take up the all-important profession.

Brady has remained a friend and confidante to many of his former players and is arguably the most consistent and honest coach in Anne Arundel County history. Behind the scenes, he has helped so many of his former players with the game of life.

Do you think maybe he could have had something to do with the planning of this dedication so that he could have had time for people, like former players and family to attend instead of receiving an email just one week before?

In my opinion, this whole thing has sadly been mishandled. John Brady has not only been a great coach but a great mentor to his players and deserves more, at least a phone call well in advance. That’s all. That’s respect!!