We can all agree that over the years our neighborhood has produced many outstanding people. I have been writing the blog for a little over a year and a half now and I find it hard to believe that I have only mentioned this one person once. Maybe it’s because he isn’t one to toot his own horn, not one who is loud, big-times anyone or likes to bring attention to himself. Today, I’m here to bring recognition to a great man and give him a shout-out from Container Diaries.
To this day he still resides on Windsor Place between 8th and 9th…
He has been working as a high school teacher and basketball coach for many years, the past 27 at Msgr. McClancy located in Elmhurst, Queens.(As mentioned below, he just recorded his 400th victory at the varsity level)
I’m talking about no other than Donnie Kent.
‘DK’ as he is affectionately known by many, is one of the nicest people to reside in Windsor Terrace.
As a youngster, I never engaged in conversation with him. I’d see him walk up to the avenue every day and I’d see him at basketball games. I’d also see him up in the boys schoolyard at the summer league watching his players from Christ the King. I’ll never forget sitting down on the ground against the church wall one night watching the Royals and the Loughlin Lions; It was a battle! When we watched the summer league as kids, we adopted players as our favorites; when C.K. came to town, Buzz Matthews of Christ the King was my favorite.
It wasn’t until I entered the coaching world at Bishop Ford did I get to know the man who can always be seen siting directly behind the ESPN announcers at MSG at a college basketball game.
Donnie Kent has always been very cordial to me; when I became a coach I’d see him on the avenue where he found time to chat.
The man is filled with basketball stories and is also one of the most sincere people you will ever come across.
As I look back on all those times I had the chance to get to know a high school basketball coach living right around the corner from me, I kick myself for not befriending him. I wish I could turn back time and say something to him as he dashes across the avenue. I would’ve learned so much from him.
One night, late in the summer, I recall DK walking up to the avenue. At the time he was the head coach at McClancy High School and on this particular night he didn’t seem like himself. I was hanging out on the corner of Windsor and 9th, outside Ballard’s.
“‘Hi coach Kent”, I said to him as he lifted his head and glanced my way.
“Hey Red”, he answered back but kept on walking. (Usually on the corner he would stop and ask me how my freshmen team was doing at Ford)
I watched him as he made his way across the avenue towards Prospect Park. Maybe he was on his way to some place important I thought to myself.
A few months later found out that he had received a call from his center at McClancy, Serge Zwicker who at the time stood 6’8″ and was probably going to be a force in the CHSAA in the up-coming season. Zwicker decided to transfer to another school, out of State. Zwicker later went on to play the post at North Carolina.
Something about Kent that many people don’t know is that back in the early 1980’s when Christ the King had a teacher’s strike, Kent refused to cross the picket line, thus losing his job. So he ended up at the Elmhurst school and has been there ever since.
Jack Kelly said of DK: “This would be a perfect time to thank the people like Don Kent for putting up with a bunch of crazy 7th avenue guys and helping us learn the important lessons in life like doing the best you can and if you fall pick yourself up and try again.”
When I visit NYC in April, I will be sure to seek ‘DK’ out by getting a hold of him and talking some basketball with a guy who is also a member of the CHSAA Hall of Fame.
Would love to hear your thoughts on Donnie.