Suffolk coach lends hand on and off court

Suffolk coach lends hand on and off court

Kevin Foley watches a basketball game from the sidelines. Photo from Kerry Swanson

Just keep shooting.

That’s what Kevin Foley used to tell the players on the Suffolk County Community College women’s basketball team. And encouraging them to never give up wasn’t just a message for between the paint — it went for when they were off the court as well. Even his retirement as the women’s basketball head coach earlier in 2015 didn’t stop Foley from continuing to support his players — he returned to SCCC as the institution’s athletic director that same year.

That is why Kevin Foley is a 2015 Times Beacon Record Newspapers Person of the Year.

Vice President of Student Affairs Christopher Adams said Foley has worked at the college nearly 37 years as a professor and member of the school’s athletic department. While Adams described Foley as dedicated and passionate, he said it’s his overall approach to life that resonates with him.

“He’s very big on success in the classroom and the athletic fields.”

Adams said Foley instilled important life lessons into all of his players: You’ll be successful if you’re a “good sport” who follows the rules.

Foley was like a father figure for some of his players in his 19 years of coaching, those close to him said. Former SCCC student and basketball player Colleen Quinn said she remembers Foley differently from other coaches she had when growing up. As a high school student, Quinn said she always felt like she wasn’t doing well on the basketball court.

“I only really had a few coaches to compare him to, and those coaches were similar [to one another],” Quinn said. “Now that I’m an adult and I can look at how [Foley] handled [coaching] and how he managed his team … you’ve got to kill yourself to prove anything to him [because] he already sees what your potential is and he’ll nurture it.”

Quinn played for Foley when she attended the college in 1997, graduating from SCCC two years later. Quinn, of Middle Island, was a senior in high school when Foley approached her after watching her play a game at the college.

Kevin Foley has his team huddle around him for a mid-game discussion. Photo from Kerry Swanson
Kevin Foley has his team huddle around him for a mid-game discussion. Photo from Kerry Swanson

She didn’t plan on playing basketball at the college level before Foley spoke to her. But Foley helped her, and many students just like her.

SCCC’s Athletics and Intramurals Coordinator Kerry Swanson met Foley 20 years ago when she was one of his players. Swanson attended the college in the early to mid-1990s.

She admitted that she was unsure of what she was doing with her life and Foley helped steer her in the right direction. According to Swanson, Foley has a knack for helping those who are lost find their way, regardless of who they are or his relationship with them.

“He tries to connect with people on some level. If he can go out of his way for someone, he just goes out of his way,” Swanson said about the current athletic director.

Adams said Foley also put the college on the map, as many SCCC sports teams have improved under his leadership. He’s also earned several awards on multiple occasions, including the NATYCAA Cup, otherwise known as the Pepsi Cup; the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup; the Mickey Crowley Metropolitan Officials Sportsmanship award; and the Joe DeBonis Sportsmanship Award. The college received this regional award 12 times in the past two decades.

He also celebrated his 400th career win earlier in 2015, along with several other awards for his work as a professor.

In honor of Foley and all his achievements on and off the court, SCCC will rename the basketball court on the school’s Ammerman Campus in Selden after him.

As a senior attending Seton Hall High School in 1965, Foley averaged 30 points per game. He also received a basketball scholarship to attend Seton Hall University, where he served as the team’s captain from 1968-69. In 1994, he was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame.

“He is someone that could have gone anywhere to coach big-time athletics,” Adams said. “He’s been at the college for almost 37 years. That speaks to his dedication and it speaks to his love for our college and for the students.”