Tom Konchalski Classic

By Margaret Kelly (Class of 2022) and Nicholas Seibert (Class of 2025),
Archbishop Molloy High School here.

The late Tom Konchalski remains a well-known name in the world of high school and college basketball, and deservedly so. He was what Mr. Mike McCleary, Athletic Director of Archbishop Molloy High School, describes as “the premier high school basketball scout in the country.” As a scout for over 50 years, he helped thousands of student-athletes find the right colleges and scholarships for them. He observed athletes across the country, providing reports to college coaches in which players were evaluated. His work was crucial to the success of these athletes, as he ultimately helped them further their careers.

Tom, as well as his brother Steve, were esteemed Archbishop Molloy High School alumni – Tom part of the Class of 1964, and Steve a graduate in 1962. The Tom Konchalski Foundation is proud to continue celebrating Tom’s legacy through the Tom Konchalski Classic Basketball Tournament. The inaugural tournament was held on Sunday, December 5th in Molloy’s Jack Curran Gymnasium. There, incredible and hard-working athletes from eight rival schools competed over the course of the day. Participating athletes were rewarded not only with gained knowledge of the legacy of Tom Konchalski, but the opportunity to showcase their talents on a big stage, as well as the chance to win either an Outstanding Player or Sportsmanship Award. Both honors were awarded after each game that was played.

The games themselves were exciting, with close scores in the majority. Archbishop Molloy’s team won an especially intense game against Msgr. Farrell, with a final score of 46-41. Students from Archbishop Molloy who attended were thrilled about the tournament, as it signaled a long-awaited return of high-profile sporting events. Junior Isabella Jorge, Class of 2023, spoke of her feelings saying, “It was very exciting to see our school community gather around to cheer on our team and show school pride.” This excitement spanned generations, as Isabella’s family member, Gregory Jorge of Molloy’s Class of 1993, could agree: “It was great to be back at the school, and I enjoyed seeing a return to basketball after delays due to COVID-19.” The tournament also welcomed special guests Joe Dunleavy, Molloy Class of 1975, and Rich Petriccione, both Committee members of the Thomas Konchalski Foundation and close friends of Tom. The camaraderie of the day, and everyone who gathered to remember Tom, made this a very special tournament.

The Tom Konchalski Foundation was founded to honor the memory of a beloved man who lived an inspiring life of Christian virtue and charity. The foundation raises funds to provide need-based scholarships and financial assistance to students who embrace Tom’s values. At this event, all the money raised was donated to the foundation and will benefit outstanding students in the future. Earlier this year, the foundation graciously presented Archbishop Molloy with a $10,000 donation. The inaugural tournament represents only one of the many events that the Thomas Konchalski Foundation plans to host in the months and years to come. In Spring 2022, the Foundation are looking forward to a testimonial dinner and an auction, and more tournaments could be hosted in the future. All these exciting events are crucial to their goal of continuing to spread the word about Tom Konchalski and his inspiring work. 

Almost 200 friends gather to honor Tom Konchalski
Archbishop Molloy HS
Board of Directors l to r: Joe Dunleavy, Barry "Slice" Rohrssen, John Mullally, John Coman, Steve Konchalski, Omar Minaya, Mike McCleary, Greg Shemitz and Peter Goyco

Almost everyone in the gym knew Tom's phone number by heart as we have dialed it repeatedly. That familiar number, the friendly, distinctive voice on the other end of the line, that gentle, contemplative visage on the top row of the stands are all gone now.

We knew that as we filed onto the hallowed gymnasium floor at Archbishop Molloy High School on September 10. Yet, the spirit of Tom Konchalski is very present. Palpably so. Solemn at first, the mood turned joyful as we shared stories and celebrated the extraordinary life and legacy of this remarkably modest man.

In his invocation, Bishop John O Barres remembered the victims and families of 9/11 on its 20th anniversary. He then revealed Tom’s “humble secret:” devotion to daily Mass and the Blessed Sacrament. Tom lived the “rhythm of the Mass” and this was the Foundation of the integrity and excellence he brought to the basketball world.

Coach Ray Nash quipped that he was asked to emcee the event because “everyone else was in Springfield!” Tom loved (and used) this type of self-deprecating humor. 

Coach Bob Hurley recalled that Tom took public transportation to Jersey City – “I cannot begin to tell you how many times!” He always showed up – weddings, christenings, games, family gatherings – he was always there.

“If you can walk with kings,” Coach Pete Gillen recited Kipling, and keep the common touch. Tom walked with the kings of the basketball world and in his humility treated everyone he met with kindness and respect.  

 Coach Steve Konchalski pointed to the gymnasium doors where 63 years ago Tom and he walked through together. “I was 13 and he was 11. Archbishop Molloy High School changed our lives.” Steve also reflected on the Christian values, instilled by their parents. This was an integral part of family life in the Konchalski household.

1986 – Mets vs. Red Sox World Series. Game 6. Ed Hall and Tom were there to witness the pandemonium at Shea when the Mets staged an epic comeback in the 10th inning. “Tom was simply the smartest person and best person I have ever known.”

“Scouting is what connected us.” Tom was all about giving a young man a chance. Omar Minaya recalled Tom as loving, caring, and consistent. He was closer to being a saint as anyone I know.

I believe his right hand was anointed by God. Jason Curry concluded his stirring remarks: “All of us were blessed when we shook hands with Tom Konchalski.”

“Tom made people better every day of his life. He gave thousands of youngsters the opportunity to make their lives better.” We got a rousing send off and call to action by Coach Mike Krzyzewski via video. “It’s an honor to be part of Tom’s Team.” Coach K video

Thanks to all the speakers who made the evening a very special occasion.

And a HUGE thank you to Mike McCleary and his team at Molloy for all the setup, food service, bar and many game-day details. We could not have done this without you.

Through your generosity, we pledged $10,000 to Molloy as a scholarship for deserving students. Our ultimate goal is to fund a perpetual Molloy scholarship in Tom's name. As we meet with continued success, with the charity of the people in Tom’s orbit, we hope to fund additional scholarships and assistance to worthy youth at schools throughout the city.

L-R Richard Karsten, President Molloy; Joe Dunleavy, VP TK Foundation; Steve Konchalski, President TK Foundation


woman running on field

CHSAA Senior Showcase 2021

Pictured: Nathaniel Morris of Xaverian High School receives a sportsmanship trophy from Foundation VP Joe Dunleavy.

For many years Tom helped with the Senior Showcase which features the best players from NYC Catholic high schools. With his knowledge of all the city players, Tom put together the teams to assure parity.

The Showcase has now been named for Tom Konchalski and the Foundation awarded sportsmanship trophies for each of the 8 games

Testimonials

Tom is the most honorable, hardest working and kindest person I’ve ever met in my life.

Coach John Calipari, Kentucky, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame