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Mixed Emotions At Gibbons Alumni Game

By Keith Mills

Amid the sobering news their alma mater is closing, some of the finest players in the rich history of Cardinal Gibbons basketball gathered last weekend for the annual Bob Flynn Alumni Basketball Game.

Flynn, a former player and coach at Cardinal Gibbons, died of a heart attack in 2007 at the age of 49. His legacy lives on through his wife Tina, his children Caitlin, Michael and Ryan, and the hundreds of players whose lives he touched in his time at Gibbons, and as a collegiate coach at Mount St. Mary's, St. Mary's and McDaniel College.

"It's always great seeing the guys come back," said Tina Flynn, who like so many other parents of Cardinal Gibbons students has been devastated by the news of the school's closing and scrambling to find a new school for her twins boys, Michael and Ryan.

Mike and Ryan Flynn are twins who play both soccer and basketball and will attend Archbishop Spalding next year for their final year of high school. They also played in the latest edition of the alumni event, featuring the current Crusaders team, coached by Jeff Cheevers, and an assorted group of returning alumni.

The game was again played on Bob Flynn Floor inside Ray Mullis Gymnasium, the legendary Crusader's coach who built the program into a state and regional powerhouse.

Bob Flynn graduated from Gibbons in 1975 and played on the first of the school's six Catholic League championship teams in 1974. It was a team that included Norman Black, Rob and Mark Valderas, Mark Massimini, and brothers Tommy and Michael Grace, whose sons, Tommy and Mike, both played in this year's game.

Tommy Grace was an All-MIAA selection in 2000. He went on to play at Villanova under head coach Jay Wright. Mike Grace is currently a student at UMBC and is an assistant baseball coach at the school. Mike's brother Nick, who graduated from Gibbons last year, also played in the alumni game.

In 2003-04, Mike Grace helped Bob Flynn's Crusaders to a 27 -7 record and a spot in the MIAA A Conference championship game. The Crusaders beat Mount St. Joe in the semifinals and were ranked No. 1 in the area when they lost to Rudy Gay and Spalding in the A finals.

That season was Flynn's Crusaders’ best record in 17 years led by Leon Williams, a two-time, first-team All-MAC Conference selection who went on to Ohio University; Ken Hasbrouck, who went to Siena and played this year with the Miami Heat of the NBA; and Brett Foelber, then a strong 6-foot-6 senior.

Foelber later played for Flynn at McDaniel College in Westminster, where ended his career two years ago one of the Green Terror's best players ever.

Foelber was back at his alma mater in the alumni game named after his former coach, as was Michael Moorhouse, (2000) son of former Gibbons player and coach Bryan Moorhouse; Steve Bageant ('05); Mike Feehely ('05); Dwight Dean ('02) and Glenn Nelson ('03).

"Bob thought the world of those two guys," said Tina Flynn, of Dean and Nelson. "Both gave 100 percent of every game and practice."

Nelson went on to play at North Carolina A&T while Dean played at South Carolina State and then professionally in Brazil.

"I told Dwight that Bob would've loved seeing Michael and Ryan playing with him and Brett," said Tina Flynn. "He would've gotten a kick out of that."

Mike and Ryan Flynn were 8 years old when Dean graduated from Cardinal Gibbons. Now, they're 15 and getting ready to change schools and leave behind a place they've always known as home. I place where they literally grew up.

"It's really sad," said Tina Flynn, "but seeing all the guys again was really nice. It was a great day."

Posted May 3, 2010