Former Comet coach recognized for legacy
Greene will receive Multi- Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame’s coaching award
Published: Friday, February 28, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014 18:02
“Coach Greene — he’s a professional and he’s a teacher,” Athletic Director John Wade said reminiscing about his time at City College of San Francisco when he played basketball against an Ed Greene coached Contra Costa College squad.
Greene coached the CCC men’s basketball team from 1969-1989.
Wade said he remembers playing on good teams at CCSF but that they always failed to get a victory against Greene’s Comets.
“I remember we lost,” Wade said with a laugh. “Coach Greene had some outstanding players who were well disciplined and ran their plays precisely — they played the game the right way.”
Greene will be honored as the recipient of the Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame’s Outstanding Coaching Award, in honor of his 19 years coaching, accumulating at least 17 games won in each season and winning 71 percent of his games, while capturing six conference titles before retiring from the bench in 1989.
The ceremony will be held at the Oakland Marriott Hotel on Friday from 6-10 p.m.
In 2000 Greene was inducted into the California Community Colleges Coaches Basketball Hall of Fame.
Greene’s family moved to El Sobrante when he was just a child in 1955.
He first stepped on the pavement of CCC just as the current Comet men’s and women’s basketball coaches did — as a player. In 1959 Greene played the first of two years as a Comet forward where, in his sophomore year, he averaged 23 points per game.
Greene was always a standout basketball player, earning all Alameda-Contra Costa Athletic League honors at De Anza High School and participating on competitive teams at Cal State-Fresno after his years to CCC.
He said he did not get the itch to coach until he took a trip to Africa. He was selected as a student ambassador to travel to North Africa and teach basketball.
“When I was 22 years old I received a phone call,” Greene said. “I was selected to take a trip to (help) introduce Africa to basketball.”
Greene said that is when he fell in love with coaching.
Greene said he, in addition to other coaches, held clinics in Morocco, Algeria, Ethiopia and Sudan teaching the sport. The coaches’ mission was to prepare African athletes to participate in the basketball event at the Olympic games.
When Greene first became coach of the Comets, coming off of a 3-23 season at Logan High, he said he was scared to lose. In his first year as CCC coach the then 29-year-old led the Comets to a 23-5 overall record.
“I learned how to coach in those two years,” Greene said. “We took who we could get, strung them together and told them they were winners. I didn’t teach them basketball, I taught them how to play together and love one another.”
Once the wins came, the former coach said his players began to solidify as a team believing in his coaching philosophies and tutelage.
Players looked up to Greene as more than a coach — one player in particular that has grown a special kinship with Greene is women’s basketball coach and journalism adviser Paul DeBolt.
“He was the first coach I had who could be (brutally) honest with me and still have a heart,” DeBolt said. “I knew right away that he really cared about me as a person.”
“He was tough. Coach Greene wanted to win,” DeBolt said. “He was also a great role model for all of us who were fortunate enough to play for him.”
DeBolt played for Green from 1973-1975.
Greene and his former athletes have come to share a father/son relationship of sorts.
“He’s like my son,” Greene said. “He truly is. When he lost his father (Paul) walked up to me and said, ‘you’re my black father.’”
One of Greene’s more famous and influential former athletes is Kenny Carter, better known as “Coach Carter,” the basis of the 2005 motion picture.
Carter, famous for locking his undefeated Richmond High School team out of the gym because of poor academics, played for Greene in 1978-79.
“Our coach was more than a coach,” Carter said. “He was a great role model. He wanted us to be successful after basketball. Coach Greene is a winner at all (facets) of life.”
Carter, who was in Texas when he spoke with The Advocate, said he is scheduled to speak in Indiana on Friday. After his speech he will catch a plane to Oakland to watch Greene accept his award.
Today Greene continues to mentor the youth in the Richmond community, living with his wife Arinel Greene in El Sobrante.