By Joseph Staszewski
Thank you, coach.
More than 200 people came to pay their final respects and celebrate the life of Chuck Granby, the legendary Campus Magnet (formerly Andrew Jackson) boys’ basketball coach at the St. Albans Congregational Church March 10. Granby, who won 722 games in 45 years on the bench, died of natural causes March 1, at the age of 81.
“He was more concerned with how we grew as men, and that was the distinction between him and different coaches,” said former player Vernon Moore, who played his college ball at Creighton.
Granby had been in and out of the hospital since he retired from coaching in 2014. Those who loved him took solace in the fact that any pain he was in is now over.
“When I first got the news I was at work, and I think I cried for nearly two periods,” said Wings coach Billy Turnage, who played his senior season for Granby. “Today was a celebration. The pastor said it best. No more pain. No more medication. No more rehab. Coach was beginning to suffer and we didn’t want to see him suffer.”
Family, friends, rival coaches, former school colleagues, follow parishioners and many former players attended the nearly two-hour-long funeral service before traveling to Calverton National Cemetery, where Granby will be buried. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky from 1956 to 1958.
His players called being under his tutelage an unbelievable experience. Granby stressed the importance of getting a college education and trying to use basketball to achieve that. If a player bought in, he did everything he could to help them.
“I came to Campus Magnet with no college opportunity whatsoever, and he made sure I played in front of enough coaches in the gym and I was able to go to Stony Brook,” Turnage said.
Granby’s niece Benita Overton spoke about how Granby poured himself into the betterment of others—whether it was family, friends, his players or the team’s loyal cheerleaders. There was no sugar coating, just straight talk.
“He kind of told you what time it was,” Overton said. “He taught us how to not have an ugly live. He taught us how to make choices and how to make them wisely and to be accountable.”
Granby won 12 coach of the year awards and is a member of the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame. He also gave his time to coach a t Wheelchair basketball tournament, Elmcor and Empire State Games. The former Bradley University standout, began his teaching career at JHS 104 in Manhattan before going to Jackson.
There he made the playoffs 42 times and won 27 division titles, plus seven Queens championships. Granby reached the city title game four times and won in the 1984-85 season. Granby coached NBA players in Boo Harvey and Kyle O’Quinn. He was the first coach in PSAL history to reach 700 wins and was one of the first African American basketball coaches in league history.
“Coach Granby left us a legacy that may never ever be equaled,” said former PSAL Executive Director Tom Hemans said. “What is the proof? Just do the math.”
His daughter Robyn Granby-Poole, his brothers Samuel Granby Jr., his sister Catherine Holley and Yvonne Granby, along with six nieces and nephews, survive Granby.
Granby’s legacy lives on through them and the hundreds of young men he turned into better players and people.
“He always preached and he always had life lessons for us,” Moore said. “When you are younger, you don’t really realize the importance of these lessons, but as you get older you saw, ‘Oh wow. This is what coach always said.’ He was always that guy.”
Thank you, coach.