Nov. 11-17, 2004
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Noted SU Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim Addressed Crowd at Notre Dame Fundraiser
The Orange and Blue of Syracuse University recently met the Blue and Gold of Notre Dame for a special dinner at the Valley View Country Club in Utica. The featured speaker at the dinner was SU men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim. In the 2003, Boeheim, now entering his 29th year at the helm of the Orange basketball team, won the NCAA Championship. It was the third time he had led SU to the national championship and the first time he had won it.
The event was coordinated by Mammone Enterprises, a Utica-based agency which provides fundraising services to a number of organizations throughout upstate New York. According to Bette Mammone of Mammone Enterprises, the agency specializes in fundraising and philanthropic efforts for faith-based organizations. Along with Notre Dame, it is works with St. Joseph’s Nursing Home, as well as the Village of Whitesboro in the Utica area, and the Rochester Cemetery Heritage Foundation. The appearance by Boeheim was set up by Notre Dame alum John Petrone, a prominent Utica area attorney who is also on the law school board of directors at Syracuse University. Mammone noted that Petrone “has been a driving force behind a number of activities that have taken place over the past two years.” Petrone relayed that through the university, he has become close to the future hall of fame coach.
“Through my affiliation with Syracuse, I’ve also become pretty close with the coach, Jim Boeheim,” Petrone relayed. “Jim Boeheim is a great guy. You ask him to come and he comes. He agreed to come down and do the fundraiser tonight for no charge and on his time even though his team started practicing last week.” Mammone projected that the event would raise between $11,000 and $12,000 for Notre Dame. She said that while the event is strongly associated with athletics, the funds raised will not only benefit Notre Dame athletics, but also technology in the school, a student-initiated music program, the art program, and a new journalism program. In addition to monies raised from the dinner itself, a silent auction featuring mostly sports memorabilia was held.
Tom Coyne, a Notre Dame class of 1973 grad and sports director of WKTV in Utica, was largely responsible for sports memorabilia from Whitesboro native and pro hockey goalie Robert Esche as well as materials from the New York Knicks and other teams. Boeheim focused on issues primarily dealing with athletics. He broke down a method for success into three key points including hard work, teamwork, and “being smart.” For each point he offered an anecdote featuring such figures from the basketball community as former SU player Billy Owens, current SU player Jerry McNamara, and Michael Jordan. During the discussion, Boeheim talked about giving back to the community and detailed a number of other community service activities that he and members of the Syracuse basketball program engage in including visiting hospitals, the Coaches vs. Cancer event, and a “Basketball for Women” luncheon that raises funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. “I get more out of this kind of work than I ever put into it,” he said.
Following the speech, Boeheim permitted a question and answer period in which he fielded questions from attendees regarding the SU program. Questions ranged from the character qualities the coach looks for when recruiting players to the future of recent recruit and Utica-native Josh Wright. One member of the student-initiated music program asked if his group could play at Syracuse games as a sort of guest pep band. “I like the question and answer periods; that’s a good part of it,” Boeheim said after the discussion. “I try to talk about some of the experiences that I’ve had and how they relate to everybody and hopefully people have a good time.” Along with coaches from the Notre Dame community, many athletes were in attendance. The varsity girls soccer team arrived still in blue and gold warm-ups following a Section III Class C Tournament contest and several athletes representing boys soccer, boys basketball and baseball, were in attendance. One observer noted that there were also attendees from such rival schools at Clinton.
Following the dinner, Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Durr said that giving athletes a chance to hear a speaker of Jim Boeheim’s stature was very valuable to their development not just as athletes but as individuals. “I think it’s a great opportunity,” Durr said. “Obviously, he’s a national figure in the coaching fraternity and he talked about some great things such as teamwork and hard work. I don’t think you can tell kids that enough. When you hear it from someone of his stature, it gets that point across.” Mammone is hoping that dinners such as this will become a tradition in the Notre Dame community, but she was uncertain whether or not the speakers will be drawn exclusively from the sports community.