The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
A.E. Houseman ‘To An Athlete Dying Young’
For twenty springs, I have remembered the man, the moment and his memory. Embracing who he was and what he meant to a neighborhood, a city and a university. Every year I seem to hold on a little tighter.
I hold on because I can’t let go of Hank Gathers.
Eric “Hank” Gathers was a comet – explosive, radiant and inspiring to the point where you stood and marveled at his brilliance.
Suddenly before you knew it, like that comet – Hank was gone.
Named for his boyhood hero Hank Aaron, (hence the number 44), Gathers was a player who could turn teammates into spectators as he was the fuel in Loyala Marymount’s rocket floor attack. In 1989, Gathers had the entire nation watching as he became the second player in the modern NCAA to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season.
If Rocky Balboa is Philadelphia’s story, Hank Gathers is North Philadelphia’s Story. A place where dreams abound as does failure. Here the snares of life occur more frequently than most places. To make i through this concrete minefield, you’d better come from a strong home, have strong people in your corner and have an even stronger heart.
Gathers had all of the above – especially heart.
“Happy is the son whose faith in