Longtime former East Rockaway boys’ basketball coach Joe Lores will become just the ninth coach in Nassau County history to be inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame in a special ceremony in Glens Falls, N.Y. in March 2019.
“I’ve known for a couple of weeks and I’m still trying to process it,” Lores said of the honor. “It’s overwhelming for me.”
Lores became the Rocks head coach in 1982, and stepped down after the 2016-17 season because, he said, he felt the timing was right. He remains a fixture at the school, teaching business and coaching the varsity girls’ soccer and softball teams. During his time as boys’ basketball coach, the team won five titles — including a Long Island championship when his son, Joseph, was on the team. As a coach, he won a school-best 222 games and oversaw numerous scholar-athletes.
“The games’ been really good to me and I tried to return that,” he said.
Recalling his basketball roots, Lores, a Lynbrook High School graduate, said that when he was growing up, he started hanging out with a tough crowd. To combat this, his father took him to the gym at St. Raymond’s School, getting him involved in basketball. As a six-feet tall sixth-grader, Lores said, he learned to love the sport and honed his skills.
Years later, while working at Chemical Bank, Lores got inspired to get into coaching by watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, held each March. He then received advice to apply for jobs as a substitute teacher and was hired by East Rockaway, where he eventually became the boys’ basketball coach. Over 35 years of coaching at East Rockaway and three decades of coaching at St. Raymond’s, Lores shaped a lot of young student athletes.
“I’ve been telling kids you can get anywhere you want to go from here,” Lores said. “You can get any place you want to go from here and I guess this is proof of it because I never envisioned this at all.”
He said he has cherished a lot of memories at East Rockaway, including all the people he met. He reflected fondly on a game in 2014 when the Rocks trailed Christ the King by four points with 0.8 seconds left in regulation and managed to win the game.
Lores added that he was grateful to a lot of people for getting where he is, including Mike Deane, who coached him at SUNY Delhi and coached with him at Oswego, his late former East Rockaway coach Tom Henry, his late former Lynbrook High School coach Marty Katz, and his former coach and colleague Harry Frieslevan, among others.
Lores said he has been thinking about his speech and that he is happy his family will be there when he joins a list of just eight other past Nassau coaches who have achieved the honor of being inducted.
“If I had to look, I’d probably have the least amount of wins as anybody on that list that I mentioned,” he said, “so I must have been doing something right and I like to think that it was trying to raise young men as well as make basketball players.”