When Archbishop Carroll outlasted St Joe’s Prep 74-66 in a barn-burner of a game in the opening round of the Catholic League playoffs, it marked the final time that Speedy Morris will be coaching in a PCL game. The 77 year old Morris, citing health concerns, has announced his intention to retire from coaching at the end of this season.
Coaching in his 52nd season, the Hall of Famer Morris has practically rewritten the local record books. He has accumulated a staggering 1,036 victories in that span and taken home pretty much every coaching award possible. He has left his legacy on each stop of his basketball journey, starting at Roman Catholic, and on to Penn Charter, the La Salle Women’s and Men’s programs, and finally touching down at the Prep. Over his 19 seasons at the Prep, he has amassed an eye-popping 367 wins.
As the Catholic League season was winding down, numerous teams have given him farewell tributes as a gesture of respect and admiration. Each game has seen a small army of former players, associates, friends and extended family come out to show their appreciation as to how he has so profoundly affected each of their lives. The Carroll game was no exception with son Keith on the sideline, and his siblings Brian, Chris, Margaret Mary, his wife, Mimi, brother Dave, grandchildren, relatives and a legion of staunch supporters filling up the stands.
As much as has been written about Morris and his dedication to those around him, his faith and his moral conviction in interviews by those on the outside, we will now get some perspective on Morris from someone who doesn’t call him “Coach,” but “Dad."
Actor/comedian Chris Morris, who teamed with his father for years in a side-splitting comedy duo, gets to chime in here about his personal hero, not from a basketball point of view, but that of a devoted son. FYI : Chris’s latest movie project with actor George Wendt entitled “Stealing A Survivor” is in post-production and Morris anticipates a late Spring or early Summer release.
“Some call him Coach, I call him Dad. As I sat in the gym of my alma mater, Archbishop Carroll, watching a legend coach his final Catholic League game and looked around, I saw his former players, friends and coaches all there to watch this legend as he gets to end his 52-year career.
"I couldn’t help but think the countless lives he has touched by taking his players to practice, by teaching them the fundamentals of the game, and by helping his players after they leave his program.
"This legend has made a difference in so many lives that I can’t help but sit here thinking that I am the lucky one … because I get to call him Dad.
"I, being the youngest of the Morris kids, wasn’t around for his whole career, but I was around for a large portion of it. I have seen him coach All-Americans, Players of the Year, and 1,000-point scorers, but what amazes me most about my father was how grounded he remained through it all. He has always been humble and thanked God for his success. My dad isn’t just a coach, he is a man of faith, who along with my mother would go to Mass every day.
"He has never left our simple row home in Roxborough, and he loves his parish, family and friends. Through all of his success, he has taught us all many things, but the one thing that stands out is humility and loyalty. This sums up my father, Speedy Morris. Some call him coach … I call him my dad and my hero!”
The Morris “greatest hits” tour will have at least one more stopover as St. Joe Prep has qualified for the District 12 PIAA playoff bracket, which will start later in February.