More than a year after his death, Tom Konchalski continues to have a lasting impact on the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA).
The late longtime high school basketball scout and consummate gentleman dedicated his life to local hoops, and now his spirit and name will be attached to scholarships for students of the 30 CHSAA member schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Archdiocese of New York.
During this year’s CHSAA Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 26, the Thomas C. Konchalski Foundation, established last summer, handed out five one-time $2,000 scholarships to CHSAA schools. The five schools picked at random were Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst; Fordham Prep, the Bronx; St. Edmund Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay; Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst; and Iona Prep, New Rochelle, N.Y.
Schools will award the scholarships to a male student who is in some way associated with the school’s basketball program as either a freshman, junior varsity, or varsity player or team manager. Despite his 6-foot-6-inch frame, Konchalski did not play basketball at Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, yet he still developed a passionate love of the game by covering the team for the school newspaper.
Konchalski – a daily communicant from Forest Hills who died in February 2021 after a two-year battle with cancer – was inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame posthumously this year. These scholarships will preserve a legacy that he carved out over more than 40 years of publishing the High School Basketball Illustrated newsletter, a valuable resource to more than 200 college basketball coaches nationwide – given its detailed analysis of high school student-athletes up and down the East Coast.
After Konchalski’s passing, his family and friends formed the foundation to honor his life and legacy. His older brother and fellow Archbishop Molloy graduate Steve serves as the president of the foundation, which is dedicated to raising funds to provide need-based scholarships and financial assistance to students who embrace Tom’s values and are committed to learning on and off the basketball court.
“We wanted to do something to keep his memory alive and continue his mission to help young people, which is what he did for his whole life through basketball,” Steve said.
Steve was a basketball standout at Molloy before being recruited to play at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. He remained in Canada where he coached basketball at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, before he retired last year after a 46-year run.
The foundation’s first official event occurred in September 2021, when nearly 200 of Tom’s closest friends shared stories about the man known as “The Glider” for how he glided through high school gymnasiums with grace. To set the foundation up for success, recently retired Duke University, Durham, N.C., head men’s basketball coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski donated $10,000, in addition to serving on the foundation’s advisory board.
“There are basketball gods, and they send angels to do their work,” Coach “K” said. “He is one of them. For Tom, it’s never about him. It’s about the kids and the game. The game of basketball is better as a result of Tom Konchalski.”
Other notable board members include Hall of Famers Mike Breen and Bob Hurley as well as basketball lifers Billy Donovan, Len Elmore, Ernie Grunfeld, and Brooklyn-Queens CHSAA President Ray Nash.
“It’s a great thing for the CHSAA as we continue to perpetuate Tom’s memory,” Nash said of the scholarships. “Knowing what Tom meant to the CHSAA of New York City, this is a great way to celebrate his legacy and keep his name associated with the league.”
The foundation also funds an annual full scholarship for an incoming freshman to Molloy. Next year, a new crop of five CHSAA schools will be awarded $2,000 scholarships. For this summer, the foundation will provide six Public School Athletic League student-athletes the opportunity to attend basketball camps to improve their game before the winter season.
“Tom wouldn’t tell people this, but I know for a fact hearing different stories from people that he would often sponsor a kid if he needed the opportunity to get to a camp environment where they could work on his skills,” Steve said. “He would sponsor kids himself out of his own pocket.”
The foundation has set a goal to raise $100,000 by 2023. In November, Fordham University, the Bronx, is hosting a four-team tournament called the Tom Konchalski Classic, and the foundation is planning to host a corresponding fundraising event called “A Celebration of Basketball.”
Tom’s life was truly a celebration of basketball, and through this foundation, his intellect, memory, sense of humor, storytelling, and Catholic faith will continue to influence recipients of the scholarships that bear his name.
To donate to the Thomas C. Konchalski Foundation, visit www.tomkfoundation.org.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.