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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Friends, teammates establish basketball scholarship honoring Joe Gallagher, an all-time great at UNCP

Joe Gallagher continues to value the friends he’s made over the years playing and coaching basketball.

On March 23, some of his basketball family established the Joe Gallagher Basketball Scholarship at UNC Pembroke, where he played and coached college basketball.

Basketball Scholarship – From left: Basketball coach Ben Miller, Wiley Barrett, Chancellor Jenkins, Joe Gallagher, Sharon Gallagher, Athletic Director Dan Kenney and Barry Hopkins

Basketball Scholarship – From left: Basketball coach Ben Miller, Wiley Barrett, Chancellor Jenkins, Joe Gallagher, Sharon Gallagher, Athletic Director Dan Kenney and Barry Hopkins

Black Line

Gallagher, a 1968 UNCP graduate, still holds the University’s career scoring record. For the lanky ex-Marine, it’s not about records.

“The records are incon- sequential, and I hope they are all broken,” he said. “What’s important are the friends you make on the way.

“I want to thank you guys for this,” Gallagher said. “As teammates we liked each other from the start, and we still get along.

“This is a great thing for Pembroke, a University I support wherever I go,” he continued. “This was a great University when we were here, and it’s a great University now.”

Wiley Barrett, a college teammate from Pinehurst, N.C., led the scholarship effort.

“Joe was in the Marines before he came to college, so we were all in awe of him,” Barrett said. “He has phone numbers for everyone he’s met, and he stays in contact.”

Barry Hopkins, another teammate from Greensboro, N.C., talks with Gallagher two-three times a week.

“Joe and I have known each other since 1966 and nobody thinks more of him than I do,” Hopkins said.

But Hopkins said Gallagher never gave him enough credit as a basketball player.

“If I hadn’t missed so many shots, he never would have gotten that rebounding record,” Hopkins said. “I’m glad we’re doing this in Joe’s honor; he’s been a good friend for a long time.”

Gallagher’s basketball coaching career began at Maxton High School with stops at Pembroke, Methodist, Richmond, Belmont Abbey, UNC Greensboro, Campbell, Boston (Celtics) and Philadelphia (76ers). He may not be finished yet.

Gallagher lives in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., with his wife, the former Sharon Skipper, who he met at UNCP. He still has a fire burning for the game.

“I’m semi-retired, and I’m looking for an opportunity either in college or the pros,” he said. “I have a passion for the game; I miss it.

“When I was playing, basketball was never a job, and when I was coaching, it was never a job,” Gallagher said.

Basketball has changed considerably since Gallagher strapped on his first pair of “Chuck Taylors.”

“I study, work and teach my craft,” he said. “It didn’t come easy; there were a lot of bumps along the way.”

Gallagher returned to his alma mater on February 13 for “Joe Gallagher Night.” Chancellor Charles Jenkins, who has worked at UNCP for 39 years, attended the event.

“Joe Gallagher Night was one of the greatest events I have attended at this University,” Chancellor Jenkins said. “This scholarship is fantastic for several reasons.

“We’ve honored a lot of great players, but there is very seldom a scholarship named for them,” he continued. “This was not initiated by the University, but by Joe’s friends, classmates and teammates.

“Joe left his legacy on the court, and this is a legacy that will last forever,” the chancellor said. “It will make a difference in the lives of many, many basketball players into the future.”

UNCP basketball coach Ben Miller said upon arriving in Pembroke, he learned about Joe Gallagher.

“What you did on the court is still a huge part of what we’re doing now,” Miller said. “Your legacy is important to our program today.”

Athletic Director Dan Kenney summed up.

“This scholarship is about loyalty,” Kenney said. “We will make sure that quality continues through the recipients of this scholarship.”

To learn more about the Joe Gallagher Basketball Scholarship, please contact the Office for Advancement at 910.521.6252 or email teresa.oxendine@uncp.edu.

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