Jersey City Coaches Share Their Techniques for Preventing Juvenile Delinquency
Two speakers who have deep Jersey City roots discussed “Preventing Juvenile Delinquency Through Sports, Supervision and Self-Esteem” at the 17th Annual Stephen D. Doyle Criminal Justice Symposium. Jerry Walker, president and CEO of Team Walker, and Bob Hurley ’71, president and head basketball coach of Saint Anthony’s High School shared their philosophies on how athletics, such as basketball, help keep at-risk youth off the streets.
Team Walker is an organization that provides Jersey City school children access to after school programs that help them develop academically and athletically. The purpose of the organization aligns students with a positive direction for future success. In his presentation, Walker stressed the importance of prevention at an early age. He asserts that giving the students a place where they can hang out and burn energy will help them stay out of trouble. His company relies on the “Three Ds”: dedication, determination and discipline. Walker believes that education is important for prevention. Through a STEM Title V grant, Team Walker offers GED and ESL classes as well as summer day camps.
In his youth, Walker was influenced by his basketball coach, Bob Hurley, who would patrol the neighborhood to make sure none of his students were hanging out on the streets. Hurley’s dedication to his students and basketball players and their well being influenced Walker to start his business to keep kids out of trouble.
Hurley is a well-known and iconic coach in Jersey City. According to Kevin Callahan, J.D., associate professor of criminal justice, he is the “Finest basketball coach in the history of high school.” However, Hurley’s full time job is as a probation officer.
Hurley grew up in the Greenville section of Jersey City but working in the probation office allowed him to understand how to be a basketball coach and connect with inner city students. He knew that it was not easy. He knew that trouble was rampant. He knew his team came from rough situations. However, he held all of his students accountable for their actions. He would patrol the streets in the worst parts of town to make sure none of his players was tangled up in a bad situation. He had a personal investment in his students, most of who were living below the poverty line. In his coaching career, all but two of his players went to college. He has a strong belief in education and it is one of his many coaching mantras.
Another one of his life rules to live by was, “I learned you got to keep guys busy. The fuller the plate the better they are,” he said as part of his efforts to keep his team performing the best and to prevent juvenile delinquency. Also on that list was emphasizing an interest in something and the importance of motivational stories.
“People need to know there is success out there,” he said.
A man of many lists, he also had a list of behaviors that students need to encompass in order to be a good athlete including: be fair but firm, be yourself, get out of the nest, success is the best you can do, be a good person and do not do drugs.
“Make sure you always have a sound mind and sound body. Do not ever start doing drugs,” he said.
Lastly, he concluded by informing the audience that he has a contract that he makes the players sign before they can play. Each breech of contract results in an unwanted punishment for the perpetrator. On the list includes items such as “be on time” and “represent yourself properly at all times.” Hurley’s leadership style is unparalleled in Jersey City. He continues to elevate at-risk youth to success while standing as a positive role model in the community.
To learn more about Hurley, and the documentary created about his life, The Street Stops Here, follow this link.