Arena builders

PERSPECTIVES: ‘Old Man Arena Basketball’ continues the love of the game | local sports

A bit like a boxer who believes he has one, his last remaining fight (TO SEE, George Forman, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr., Mike Tyson), so also for basketball players (TO SEE, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Vince Carter, Robert Parrish, Kevin Willis): They will always feel like they always have one last hit that beats the buzzer.

But as their legs get heavier over the years, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a little boy’s love of the game going, no matter what age.

The same goes for “‘Old Man Basketball,’ as we call it,” Paul Kurelko recently said.

As the players came and went… and came and went… and… Kurelko, although late to the party, was a constant, as was Chris O’Brien. In fact, it would be fair to call O’Brien a founder and a commissioner.

“We started at St. Joe’s (the former St. Joseph Elementary School in Sharon) around 1999 with a few guys like Mark Fill, Jim Hawley, Dion Magestro, Shane Wiesen, Jon Flickinger, Darren Gilson and others,” Kurelko noted.

“It started when Chris (former men’s basketball coach, who led the Spartans to a parochial state championship) was trying to provide a tougher challenge for some of the kids in St. Joe’s basketball programs. After mingling the kids, the older guys started sticking around afterwards for more games against each other, and it turned into the start of an “Old Man Basketball event” that happened pretty much. nearly every week since.

“I understand it changed over the years – from St. Joe’s, Notre Dame School (now Blessed John Paul II), Brookfield, Arbanas Gym in (Transfer), then to Sharon’s Case Avenue Elementary Gymnasium,” continued Kurelko.

“I’m a little newer to the group. I started in the last five years,” Kurelko said, “so I can only provide details on some of the players I’ve seen through my time. I started with the group when transitioning from the gymnasium (Arbanas) to the Case Avenue gymnasium, where my friend Brian Pollock introduced me to the group.

“Since then he moved to the Sharpsville High gymnasium for a year, before COVID forced us to do what we are doing now. None of us will ever say the pandemic is a good thing; However, it turns out that ended up being the catalyst for what all of this evolved into.

“We still meet weekly at Chris O’Brien’s indoor gymnasium in Masury. We now call it ‘Old Man Arena Basketball’, and it’s more competitive and fun than ever,” Kurelko said, later admitting, “I think you (would) need to see us in action… to better understand that.

He came up with this current roster from “Old Man Arena Basketball”:

Chris O’Brien – Owner, Penn-Ohio Electric; former coach at St. Joseph’s; 56 years old.

Paul Kurelko – Bank Mortgage Agent; former assistant men’s basketball coach at Hickory High; 49 years.

justin Pricing – Owner, General Builders, Reynolds; 46 years.

brian Pollock – Farrell Area School District; former Sharon High elementary boys basketball, youth baseball coach; 50 years.

John flicker – Pennsylvania state parole officer; Hermitage youth baseball coaches; 49 years.

Mike Martin – Sergeant, Hermitage Police Department; 48 years old.

Dan Gorsitch – Owner, Dan G. Tech.; coached Kennedy Catholic High athletics; 52 years.

Tap Scullin – Medical sales; Ermitage youth baseball coaches at Hermitage; 50 years.

Phil Rodenbaugh — Sales of Powered Aire Inc.; 46 years.

Mast Durisko – Sharpsville High boys’ basketball head coach; 30 years.

David Mogle – Former head boys’ coach at Marvelwood Prep School in Connecticut; 30 years.

Rob Sheridan – Pennsylvania state parole officer; 35 years.

Jason Burnet – Officer, Hermitage Police Department; 37 years.

Craig Wellman – Owner, Unique Landscaping; former assistant men’s basketball coach at Hubbard High; 35 years.

David jackson – Former Penn State Shenango Men’s Assistant Basketball Coach; played professionally overseas after 4 years at Penn State University; 32 years old.

Chris anderson – Teacher, West Middlesex Schools; local high school sports official; 52 years.

Dr. Anthony Jones – Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, Thiel College; 36 years.

Doug dorio – Reynolds High Women’s Basketball Head Coach; 35 years.

justin Townsend – Hickory High JV/College Boys Assistant Basketball Coach; 40 years.

“We have other guys coming, including some of our sons and nephews who are all in their twenties,” Kurelko said. “I know I miss some, but here are some of the other guys I remember coming to Case Avenue and Sharpsville High before COVID. This group below also included 90% of the list above.

Some of the ‘youngsters’ include current school head coaches Tyler Babcock (West Middlesex) and Scot Vannoy (Greenville), as well as Marco Miller (Hickory JV coach) and former college head coaches such as Brian Hoover (Sharon) and Lou Mastrian (Wilmington), and former college coach Marcus Anderson (Hermitage).

Also, many men who coach local youth sports, including Brian Burns (Neshannock).

They are between 30 and 50 years old.

Newbies who can’t get enough of the game have also ventured into the arena, Kurelko said, noting that “many local high school big names such as Matt Votino, Marsell Holden, Jimmy Hawley, Lou Brown, Devin O ‘Brien, Jordan Wilds who have come to enjoy a few nights of basketball with us over the past few years.

“Thanks to ‘Old Man Basketball’ we kept in shape, satisfied our thirst for competition, nurtured old friendships, forged new friendships and for the most part just had a blast,” he said. .

The group held their first OMAB summer party in September. “We have planned this so that all of our women can meet each of us and we can meet all of them. It was a great event including a buffet, drinks, live music (full band), beautiful surroundings.

“It was an amazing atmosphere that everyone really enjoyed. We’ve had discussions about possibly having a few events each year for players and families so that we can all enjoy ourselves and have fun in a relaxed environment – outside of wanting to kill each other when competing on the pitch. .