The love and support of our parents can never be underestimated. It doesn't matter if you are eight, sixteen or 59 years of age like De La Salle basketball coach, Frank Allocco. This is just one of many truths I have learned from his life and legacy.
On February 8, 2013 Allocco earned his 600th career win as the Spartans beat the visiting Livermore Cowboys 64-29. Plans to recognize this feat began to materialize as the benchmark came increasingly closer. And those plans did not preclude getting his 87-year old parents, who live in New Jersey, into the stands.
It was easy to recognize Allocco's parents. At a reception after the win, they were surrounded by three younger generations, which includes three great-grandchildren! I looked at Frank's dad and was reminded of another father recently in the spotlight, Jack Harbaugh. Both men support their sons with their presence and impartiality. I loved that he was wearing a navy blue baseball cap with an interlocking ND--a symbol that speaks for both Frank and his younger brother Rich, also in attendance . They both attended and played football and Notre Dame.
When Frank introduced his mom and dad and thanked them for being there, I realized I was a witness to a new insight--a powerful example. We often think of our parents supporting us at our team banquets and academic awards ceremonies in grade school or high school. But, our lives, our accomplishments and our dreams extend for all of our days. Age is just a number.
Equally impressive was the number of former players and their parents who were in attendance at both the game and the ceremony. Perhaps they were there because they know that the role of a coach demands many things, and a key demand is love. A love that is similar to that of a parent. De La Salle senior Elliot Pitts (who one game prior just scored his 1000th point) affirmed that reality with his words "I think he just loves his teams more than any other coach. He's just so close with us. He loves us, and we love him, and that's why we play for him."
I try to attend at least one basketball game a year at my quasi-alma mater. The momentum come Friday night typically pushes most people my age plus to a night on the couch, but my living room could never reveal to me what a community does. Yes, I saw Coach Allocco become the 29th coach in California to have 600 wins, but with that I saw so much more. I met up with old friends and teachers. I joined in a celebration with everyone around me as we saw a junior who has severe learning disabilities nail two-three points shots. And after the game, I saw my friend Frank Allocco honor his players past and present for what they have taught them. And thanks be to God, his parents saw this too.