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Coach, Professor and Author: John McCarthy

by Frankie Rizzo

From the classroom to the sports fields and his contributions to the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, Montclair State University Professor John McCarthy has made an impact everywhere he has gone.

McCarthy, who is an adjunct professor at Montclair State, has been involved in both sports and education for over 50 years. During this time, he has worked with many individuals, with the ultimate goal of helping them become the best version of themselves.

McCarthy started coaching 52 years ago at West Orange High School. There, he coached soccer, basketball, football and baseball. In the 1980s, he was brought in as the associate head coach of the Montclair State men’s basketball team. He ultimately retired from coaching in 1989, but his contributions to sports were far from over.

He currently teaches Coaching Principles at Montclair State. He is also one of the supervisors for the co-op program for students enrolled in the coaching minor.

“I have a soft spot for coaches, and I think that working to prepare them is extremely important,” McCarthy said. “A lot of people that go into coaching have no idea what it entails, so I try to teach proactive strategies so we can mitigate the negatives.”

For nearly a decade, he was also a contributor to the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center located on campus. He gave talks with fellow Montclair State Professor Rob Gilbert at the museum. The pair also gave talks to hundreds of athletes, coaches and parents throughout New Jersey about how to get the most out of sports.

These talks encouraged McCarthy to go to the next level. Alongside Dave Kaplan, director of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, McCarthy was able to write and publish his book, “What Would Yogi Do? Guidelines for Athletes, Coaches and Parents who Love Sports.”

“[McCarthy] was extremely passionate and dedicated to improving the high school sports experience,” Kaplan said. “He made sure to incorporate the honorable values, which include respect, humility, teamwork and selflessness, that were exemplified by [Berra].”

Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center located on campus. Photo courtesy of Frankie Rizzo

Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center located on campus.
Photo courtesy of Frankie Rizzo

The book is filled with specific strategies for those who want to get the most out of sports. With the use of Berra’s character, McCarthy is able to show athletes, coaches and parents that sports are bigger than winning a game. It’s about the life lessons learned by playing the sport.

“[I wrote the book because] I wanted people to know the human side of [Berra],” McCarthy said. “So many books are written about his baseball accomplishments or comedic personality, and I wanted to demonstrate that he was a lot more than that.”

McCarthy, alongside Yogi Berra, on the cover of his book. Photo courtesy of Frankie Rizzo

McCarthy, alongside Yogi Berra, on the cover of his book.
Photo courtesy of Frankie Rizzo

During his time at the museum, with McCarthy’s influence, the “Teammate of the Year” award was created. This award is given to student-athletes across many New Jersey high school sports teams who best exemplify Berra’s core beliefs.

“We wanted to recognize the best teammates because that was ultimately [Berra’s] goal,” said McCarthy.

In his class, he teaches students who want to be coaches in the future how to be both successful and significant as a coach using his book. The concepts in his book include stories from his coaching career, which show where he went right and wrong during his tenure, to help guide his students in the right direction in the coaching field.

Dorian Gashi is a sophomore currently working on achieving a coaching minor at Montclair State. He is a former student of McCarthy, and also just concluded his co-op with McCarthy as his supervisor.

Gashi, who is also a football player for the Red Hawks, suffered a season-ending injury earlier this year. With the help of McCarthy, he was able to find a new role on the team as a member of the coaching staff.

“I was devastated after the doctors said my season was over,” Gashi said. “I went to [McCarthy] for some guidance shortly after, and he suggested that I enroll in the co-op program he supervised and that I help out as an associate coach. It was a great experience, and I am nothing but thankful for [McCarthy] leading me in that direction.”

Everywhere he has gone, McCarthy’s work has been praised and noticed. He was recognized as the first Teacher of the Year in West Orange in 1986, and this April, he will be inducted into “The Basketball Reunion Selection” Hall of Honor for his work promoting basketball in New Jersey.

There is no doubt that wherever McCarthy goes, he always finds a way to touch the hearts of individuals around him, and at the age of 73, he has no intention of slowing down.

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