Grohol’s ability, wisdom touched fellow coach

I enjoyed Ted Beam’s article last week on my dear friend, John Grohol.

While in the seventh grade at Roosevelt Junior High School, I remember attending Altoona High games at the Jaffa Mosque in 1966, watching point guard sensation Dick Johnston display flashy ballhandling and deft sharpshooting.

Little did I know I would develop and treasure a long-time friendship with a man from the same talent-laden era coached by the late Frank Mastrocola: Starting point guard John Grohol III from the class of ’63.

Grohol and I were employed as elementary teachers by the Bellwood-Antis School District, and after our first encounter, I knew I had found a kindred spirit.

We also coached the boys varsity B-A Blue Devils basketball team together. Though I was head coach, he was a great mentor to me, and his presence and unwavering support was unparalleled.

He was an extremely wise man, and I particularly appreciated how he delivered his marvelous one-liners.

His words were brief and simple but direct and thought-provoking, reminiscent of the great wit Oscar Wilde.

We shared many war stories and good times that I hold dear to my heart.

Using “the swish” from basketball parlance defining the perfect shot, I will say this: Grohol’s loyalty, comradeship and personage will always be “nothing but net” to me.

He deserves the rest for having played the game of life fully and most admirably.

No substitute off the bench could take his place.

Galen Bickel



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