CBS basketball analyst and former college basketball coach Pete Gillen used to be a teacher at Holy Name.

Despite his tenure at HNS, I never had Mr. Gillen as a teacher.

Gillen’s name has been mentioned here on the blog in the past.

Listening to the former HNS teacher work college basketball games is refreshing.

Gillen knows the game and has a great personality.

Would love to hear from the readers who, as students at Holy Name were enrolled in Gillen’s class at Holy Name.




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47 Responses to TEACHER – COACH – ANALYST

  1. John Langton says:

    That picture gave me a little shiver up my spine! I had Mr. Gillen for homeroom in 5th grade, and then again for English in the 7th grade. My wife thinks I exaggerate about my time at Holy Name, but I was terrified of him, and I don’t think I was alone. Screaming, paddling, flying erasers – you did not want to screw up in his class. I lived in fear of getting the paddle, and never did. But I sure got smacked on the head from his college ring more than once! A nightmare!

    • Don C says:

      The man was a nut case. Hitting students with the board from under your desk. Cracking you in the head with his ring. How about making you kneel facing the wall at the back of the class holding dictionaries on the end of your extended arms. The man should be in jail!!!

    • Totally agree with you. I hated him.

  2. Glenn Thomas says:

    My late brother Drew had Pete Gillen as a teacher at Holy Name. My brother always respected Gillen, Mickey McNally, and Mr. Volastro as great teachers! When I approached the latter years at HN, Pete Gillen was long gone from Holy Name and went on to coaching and winning a CHSAA City Championship at Nazareth HS and most know the rest of that story regarding his stops in college coaching and now as a color commentator for college hoops. My older sister Laura resides and works in Charlottesville, VA for she works at UVA. She sees Coach Gillen now and then at a local coffee and bagel stop for Gillen still resides in Charlottesville. My brother always raved about what a great English teacher Gillen was back at Holy Name. I remember my brother saying how demanding a teacher he was. My brother went on and earned a full scholarship to Saint Francis College years later after high school. I know that he would often credit his teachers at Holy Name for turning him into a good student.

  3. jimmy vac says:

    Gillen was tough but fair. He encouraged us to explore high schools outside the neighborhood which opened my eyes and I considered Brooklyn Tech and Power Memorial before settling on Cathedral Prep.
    He was a good teacher but tough disciplinarian. His repotoire included
    the board on the butt, thelaser eraser throw, and the college ring turned
    upside down bop on the head which created a slot machine effect on the eyeballs, all of which I experienced and I was a good kid,, The worst I got was Gillen catching me imitating him in front of the classroom which resulted in three wacks on the rear while leaning over the sixth row first seat looking right at my cousin Drew (Thomas) who was holding in laughing…and I was a good kid… Gillen once a while would crack a joke so it’s funny to us that had him that describe him as a funny easygoing guy…

  4. Kevin Maloney says:

    Pete Gillen was a good teacher. He not only enlightened you about varous authors of English, he taught you about life. I remember he used to tell us to strive for higher education or else you would be ” Mixing Mustard down at Nathans” one of his favorite sayings. As others have said, you did not want to get on his bad side. He knew how to keep a classroom in order. It was a different time back then. That being said, as long a your paid attention in class, he was a great teacher. One of my fond memories was him coaching the class in the annual Co-op Football game between the two eighth grade classes.

    • hoopscoach says:


      Great to hear from you!

      Hope you are doing well.

      I recall watching the Co-Op Football game.

      Can’t recall if we had one in 1978.

      Those intramural football games were great though.

      • Kevin Maloney says:

        Thanks Steve,

        I know Holy Name had the game for many years. I don’t know when they finally stopped playing the game, but it was a lot of fun.

    • Mike says:

      Yes, and selling chestnuts in front of the garden.

  5. TonyF16ST says:

    I take it this Mr. Gillen was a lot of years after I left the school (69) but I can’t help feeling that part of the curriculum or the teacher interview process must have gone something like. So do you have a problem cracking kids over the head or wacking them with a board? Oh and you must have sadistic tendacies in order to get the job. Why did every teacher that worked at that school feel they had a right to beat up on kids, really I don’t get it. Did they think they would be covered because it was a “Catholic School”

    • hoopscoach says:


      It’s sure a different world we live in today as opposed to back in the day.

      You pose a great question, “Why did every teacher that worked at that school feel they had a right to beat up on kids?”

      I think the same question can be asked of the dads/fathers at home.

      • TonyF16ST says:

        You know what, not that I condone it but I can excuse the dads. They were out busting there asses working blue colar jobs, some were imigrants with old world ways. For the most part there were more stay at home moms. But a teacher? The one person who is entrusted to mold and nurture instead they beat and degraded. It’s a miracle we got out to become productive citizens. maybe it was the High School world that changed us.

      • hoopscoach says:


        Very interesting…

        But I can’t condone a father slapping the shit out of his son or wife. No make that, punching the shit out of them.

        I can’t speak for the teachers; explaining others’ actions is difficult.

        The agenda was there, not so sure why the rough discipline.

        Do that today, you are fired. Get accused of domestic assault, you are placed under arrest.

  6. Jerry Cole says:


    Before we moved to Missouri I was fortunate enough to play a season for Pete Gillen. I learned a lot during that year and liked that he always pushed to to be the best you can be. Wish I’d have been able to play for him a few more years though. Like Jimmy Vac said he was tough, but he was fair.

    • hoopscoach says:


      If I recall, you posted about having to make 10 FT’s in a row or something like that when Gillen coached, right?

      Or maybe that was another coach?

  7. John Langton says:

    Googled Gillen and found this:

  8. jimmy vac says:

    The funny thing is Gillen is only 64. When we had him back in the 5th grade, he was only 23.. Volastro, Mc Nally, and the other teachers were all around the same age. Hard to believe. Tony makes a great point about hitting. I remember hearing my friends almost brag about getting hit so har by their dad, I told my father it was okay to smack me if I get out of line…
    I was one of the few kids that did not get hit… I am against it because it was a badge of honor if you got hit in school and did not cry which defeats the purpose of discipline,,,

    • Don C says:

      It wasnt discipline. These teachers just like the Brothers got their Jollies hitting kids. I was one of the “good” kids” and I got beat on alot

  9. TonyF16ST says:

    Steve You are 100% on the money. I used the wrong terminology regarding fathers. I am totally against hitting of woman and children. and thank god never had that happen to me or my family.

    I guess what I meant was I would expect it in the house but not in the school.

    • hoopscoach says:


      No worries man.

      I look at my 12 year old daughter and when I do get angry at her, I could never, ever even think of striking her.

  10. TonyF16ST says:

    I guess it takes some kind of trigger to make someone act that way something that makes them snap and act out so violently. Maybe some day they will find a cure or something.

    I have 3 kids and I’m not saying they were angels or that they didn’t test us but other then yell I never had to hit them actually it really never got to that point

  11. TonyF16ST says:

    Life in general LOL

  12. Mike says:

    Intro to 5th grade……..ring to head… of course for talking in line. i think now they would discuss your feelings about talking.

  13. jimmy vac says:

    Getting hit wore off fast in school. The teachers that gave detention or punish lessons got my attention real quick. As a parent, I used communication and taking things away, an grounding to make sure they got the message. As Tony said, kids can get you nuts but cool down before
    you deliver the punishment and as my aunt said,” good or bad, whatever you promise kids, you have to deliver”.
    As a father of a girl and a boy, it was easier for me to be tough on my son..
    but can’t play favorites…

  14. Jerry Cole says:

    Yes, that was Coach Gillen alright.

  15. TonyF16ST says:

    I could just see the interview process.
    So tell me a little bit about yourself do you like beating on kids? Any problem cracking a child in the ass with a piece of wood?
    What do you find better the open palm or the clenched fist?

  16. Tom Fields says:

    Educators and the tools of instruction:
    Brother Duane – steel ruler (the solid three-sided kind), broke a guys hand once when he pulled back a little
    Brother John – wooden paddle
    Brother Simon – Wooden paddle
    Brother Vinny – Paddle, wooden slat from the old desks, fists, books, anything handy
    Brother Baylon – Hard plastic bat (from a frog game) – hurt like hell
    Brother Blaine – paddle
    Brother Lambert – paddle “The Board of Education”
    McNally – Wood slat, Gillen ring and all other
    Mrs Lynch – slaps, and ruler
    Ms Lynn – ruler on the palms
    Nuns – pinches, slaps, gum stuck on nose.
    I got hit in every grade but the first. I was kind of small and I guess they took pity on this little wise-ass kid. Then I turned 7.
    It was part of the culture, parents understood and supported, school knowe with 60-70 kids in one class, whatever worked, worked.
    “So what’s it gonna be,

  17. Tom Fields says:

    …got cut off “So what’s it gonna be “Silence” 500 times (a written punish lesson) or 5 “shots.” Given a choice, I took the shots and moved on.

    • Ah, but you neglected a true classic of Brother Vincent’s class: write “endoplasmic reticulum” 300 times in three different colors because your row didn’t bring in a total of $1 that day for the Missions collection.

      And everybody NOT in his class thought we were just rich, generous kids to rack up over $750 every year.

  18. A Windsor Terrace Alumni says:

    Gillen was probably the most sadistic bastard that ever took on a teaching career. Some people have characterized him as “Tough but fair”. I don’t think so!!! My first encounter with this mad dog was when I was in the fourth grade. Not only was I not in his class, I was not old enough to be in his class. I was whispering a few sentences to my friend and this thing blindsides me punches me heavily in the gut and causes me to fall heavily on the ground doubled over. Also was it tough but fair when I the supreme misfortune to be in this despicable man’s class to receive the paddle five time for simply forgetting my homework after producing homework for seven months straight?!?!??!?
    I do give credit to the owner of this blog for allowing the negative comment about the cur Gillen. I always thought that since Gillen was a player in the business he was in he would censor such comments.
    I wonder how many men Gillen alienated from Roman Catholicism because of his sadism. He obviously did not do all this corporal punishment for the good of the students he was responsible for but to work out any issues/demons he had in his soul. I hope he repents of his actions, otherwise I can see him as a Supervisor Demon in hell because of his actions.

  19. TonyF16ST says:

    A sick Bastard for sure but an amature compared to Brother Vincent Skinhead.

  20. jimmy vac says:

    Tony F.,
    Agreed. I was never afraid of the other teachers. Brother Vinny was scary..
    I used to think he would kill one of us and ignore the corpse. The hitting did not start for me until the 4th grade. As I said earlier, these guys were only around 23 just out of college and their methods were limited. The first time or two getting hit scared me a little but then it stopped because if you didn’t cry, it was like a badge of honoe. As Tom Fields said, they were overwhelmed having 48 kids to deal with and hitting seemed to work. You forgot McNally with his 20 rulers srapped in rubber bands…

  21. Holy crap, GILLEN! The bane of my existence. I am a teacher now, 52 years old, and I will never forget nor forgive that bastard. Let me tell you, he was sadistic. He walked around the room and slapped kids on the back of the head just to “wake you up”. When he hit Larry Gonzalez, as he did every day in 8th grade it seemed, he took a wind-up and came down so hard it’s a wonder Larry didn’t go through the wall.

    I will never forget the force with which he hit me on the head because I differed with him on the pronunciation of the word “chasm”. I said it was “kazm” while he said it was “chazm” with ch as in church. I wanted to tell him my father knew English better than he did and that my father had instructed me to stick by my pronuciation. Wham.

    It is because of teachers — excuse me, sadists — like Gillen that corporal punishment was outlawed. He hurt innocent kids and made us afraid of school. God, how I dreaded every day.

    I’ll never forget. I’ll never forgive.


    • Don C says:

      I remember one classmate Bob Lang who was in my 5th grade class. Gillen beat on him every day. They left him back so he had Gillen again. Then when he got to 7th and 8th they moved Gillen again. So he had this sadist as a teacher for 4 years. He quit 2 months before graduation and moved to IS 88 as Gillen and Volastro were getting in their last licks on him

      • I remember Bobby Lang. It was bad enough having Gillen for three years (5, 7, 8) — but Lang’s sentence was cruel and unusual. Anyone who wasn’t with that vicious sociopath for the full 3 years will never understand the psychological scars he inflicted on so many.

    • Don C says:

      Unbelievable but I remember that “Chasm” incident. Hope all is well
      Don Cush

      • hoopscoach says:

        A reader of the blog that grew up in St. Saviour’s mentioned to me that teachers there never hit the kids…

  22. Dan B says:

    I attended Holy Name from 1968 (1st grade) to May 1975 (7th). Gillen was nasty, but I thought I learned a lot in his class. I remember reading “The Pit and the Pendulum” out loud, which was cool. In his class I was more afraid of some of the other guys, who were assholes. I wasn’t very good at defending myself back then–didn’t know Kung-Fu yet ;}. We had several teachers who used physical punishment and threat to keep us “in line”. There was science teacher there for a couple of years who was German–he was pretty bad. I had a math teacher, Grabowski, who once picked me up and banged my head against a blackboard for no particular reason. There was a Brother who taught us science in the 6th or 7th grade who once made a kid, who I think may have had a learning disability, tortuously read from a textbook, but he couldn’t do it. I think his name was John Brown, maybe? Lived near me around the corner on 10th Ave.

    We had some very good teachers, as well, like Mr. Castaldo and Mr. Jennings, and a very good teacher who taught us New York State history, if anyone remembers them.

    • You’re lucky. By 1975, the Catholic schools in New York had moved to restrict corporal punishment — primarily because they saw tuition as the only way for the schools to survive. Nobody wants to pay for a bully to beat up their kids.

      What do you want to bet nobody who ever read a book out loud — like I had to read Kidnapped out loud in Castaldo’s class — ever returned to those classics for recreational reading? For me, Kidnapped was how I felt was I was in those frightening classrooms.

      • OOPS! should be “was how I felt when…”
        <was how I felt was I was in those frightening classrooms.<

      • Dan B says:

        Ok, here’s a thought: doesn’t anyone remember how WE sometimes treated the teachers? I’m not excusing the hitting, not at all, but let’s be honest here, we (I don’t know about the girls ’cause I wasn’t allowed on that side of the building) freaked out on these people. There was a substitute teacher there around ’73 or ’74 — middle aged woman, can’t recall the name — who must have had a complete nervous breakdown after trying to survive a stint with us. Maybe they thought they needed those rulers, paddles, and college rings to protect themselves from us!

  23. TonyF16ST says:

    How can yo compare a 10, 11, 12 year old as a threat to a man? This wasn’t the South Bronx we didn’t have box cutters or knives or any kind of weapon for that matter. Also I never remember any of my class mates being disrespectful to have that kind of punishment done to them. “THEY JUST LIKE HURTING SOME ONE WHO CAN”T FIGHT BACK PERIOD”
    I don’t know if you have kids but if you do can you honestly say you wanted to crack them with a board or do the things these freaks did to us.

  24. I have one reason to be grateful I ever had Gillen as a teacher: I vowed to become a teacher so that I could be the kind of teacher he never was and never could be. My class is my little family, and we respect each other. There are kids in my class who’ve never seen one or both parents; one with both parents in prison (his father set fire to the trailer they were living in, in a vain attempt to kill his family.) Far worse stuff than anything that was going on in Brooklyn’s little Catholic corner of Windsor Terrace. Oh, yes, there was Johnny D. who lived next door, both parents beat the shit out of each other in alcoholic hazes. Big John D., the father, set fire to his house one day, drunk and asleep on the couch, smoking a cigarette.

    This means the kids need even more acutely a loving environment, an understanding teacher who cares enough to hold them accountable for their actions and words. I’ve not had bullying continue beyond November, and kids actually want to come to school because I let them be themselves in their daily learning and discovery.

    I’m not a perfect teacher and never will be, but every day I strive to be the Anti-Gillen. It works.

  25. Don C says:

    Beware of the Flying eraser

  26. The flying eraser? How about the piece of chalk, thrown at just under the speed at which it would exit the barrel of a gun?

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