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Dr. Jack Ramsay, the connection between my host university SJU and Belgium

Being a former student of Saint Joseph’s University, dr. Jack Ramsay (°1925) was the headcoach for the SJU Hawks in the period 1955-1966. During this decade, he would lead the Hawks to 7 Big Five crowns, including one appearance in the Final Four.

Afterwards, dr. Jack Ramsay would become famous as NBA-coach and commentator for ESPN. Ramsay would win NBA titles as a general manager (Philadelphia 76’ers in 1967) and as a headcoach (Portland Trailblazers in 1977). Later in his career he would also coach the Indiana Pacers and work as a commentator for ESPN.

In his home university, dr. Jack Ramsay is explicitly honoured. In 2009, SJU opened its new home for their basketball teams, the Hagan Arena, containing the “Ramsay Basketball Center”. This center is a 1900 m² wing with locker rooms, offices, study space, conference rooms, and a Hall of Fame room. Dr. Ramsay’s shirt is retired in the gym and the office building has a complete wall to bring honour.

Arriving at my host university of Saint Joseph’s for the International Coaching Apprenticeship in Basketball, the name of Jack Ramsay immediately rang a bell. I remembered there was a connection between dr. Ramsay and Belgium and a little research confirmed this.

Dr. Jack Ramsay became in 1988 the assistant and advisor for the Belgian national men’s team. Two weeks before the qualifying round in Portugal, he joined the team and worked together with headcoach Tony Vandenbosch. In friendly games, they beat twice France surprisingly. Belgium won 4 straight games during the actual qualifying round in Portugal, but finally didn’t make it to the European Championship of 1989. In the next four years, Jack Ramsay would support the Belgian national team as an advisor. You can read dr. Jack Ramsay’s version of his time with the Belgian national team in this passage of his book “Dr. Jack’s leadership lessons learned from a lifetime” (Amazon).

The Hagan Arena, home of the Saint Joseph's Hawks

The Hagan Arena, home of the Saint Joseph’s Hawks

A wall in honour of dr. Jack Ramsay in the office building of SJU

A wall in honour of dr. Jack Ramsay in the office building of SJU

Within the Hagan Arena is the Ramsay Basketball Center

Within the Hagan Arena is the Ramsay Basketball Center

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Recently I did a podcast with Chris Oliver of Basketball Immersion.