ANTIGONISH – A native of Pictou County and current president of St. Francis Xavier University says he hopes a refurbished gym and its new name as Coach K Court will be a venue people far and wide will want to attend.
Kent MacDonald said he was glad to have been part of the ceremony that officially named the gym in honour of men’s varsity basketball head coach Steve Konchalski.
The ceremony preceded the regular-season game between the visiting Dalhousie Tigers and the host St. Francis Xavier X-Men.
“This was a great opportunity to recognize someone who has dedicated 43 years of his life to this university,” MacDonald said. “To recognize him in this way is more than appropriate.
MacDonald grew up in New Glasgow and recalled his first meetings with him.
“I’ve been on this campus almost every year of my life,” MacDonald said. “I attended Steve’s basketball camps here, and I think the reach of this gym reaches into Pictou County and the neighbouring counties. I think it’s great that we have this venue a half hour away from my home town.”
Besides MacDonald, Konchalski was joined by St. FX athletic director Leo MacPherson and two other St. FX basketball legends – X-Men leading scorer John hatch and Theresa MacCuish, leading scorer for the varsity women’s team.
Konchalski, Hatch and MacCuish are all members of the St. FX Sports Hall of Fame.
Naming the venue after Konchalski coincides with major renovations to the gym that include replacing all the seating with benches on each end and theatre seats on the sides. The walls have been repainted with a white and distinctive dark blue that was also used for the out-of-bounds lines.
Coach K Court is also painted in front of the X-Men players’ bench.
Konchalski arrived in 1975 and replaced John ‘Packy’ McFarland, who came from Maine and now lives in retirement in Pictou County. He was among the some 1,200 fans who attended the ceremony.
He has numerous national records that include guiding the X-Men to 38 straight playoffs and nearly 900 wins. He graduated from Acadia University in 1965 and the most valuable player on the men’s basketball team that won the national university championship that year.
He has coached the X-Men to three national championships and nine conference championships.
“This is amazing,” Konchalski said after a standing ovation from the near-capacity crowd that accompanied his introduction. “To have a court named after me is the greatest thing I could dream of. This is a wonderful place to coach.”
Konchalski said the evening might have felt even better had his team won. The Tigers prevailed 95-78.
St. Francis Xavier X-Men head coach Steve Konchalski, centre cuts the ribbon to officially open Coach K Court. With him, from left, are: X-Women leading scorer Theresa MacCuish, university president Kent MacDonald, athletic director Leo MacPherson and leadign X-Men scorer John Hatch. (Goodwin photo)