Rarely does a professor keep it so real as to address an entire class as a bunch of dullard nimwits who most likely won’t graduate on time, or to exuberantly allude to failing whatever is handed in to him – all for his twisted satisfaction.
At least that’s how he makes it seem.
The truth is, Gildea cares about enriching students with knowledge, and he knows his stuff down to a tee.
As sarcastic as anyone, Tuesday night he showed his earnest side, with a reading from his newly printed book, Hoop Crazy.
To an intent group of faculty, students and guests, Gildea divulged the details of his writing process and his product, an information-packed novel about the author and basketball coaching legend Clair Bee.
Bee, who retired from coaching in the early 1950’s, holds the Division I NCAA record for highest winning percentage by a head coach, a whopping 82.6 percent.
After several of his players were indicted in the famed CCNY Point Shaving Scandal, Bee resigned from his position and had a brief stint coaching the Baltimore Bullets in the early days of the NBA.
Arguably, Bee was most impactful in the sports world with his authorship and the invention of Chip Hilton, a fictional sports hero who inspired countless boys to compete and succeed in athletics.
Gildea was one of those boys.
“I read the Chip Hilton books. Everyone did. They were great. Everyone wanted to be Chip,” Gildea recalled.
Gildea tracked down athletes who played under Bee, descendants of Bee’s contemporaries and assistant coaches, and just about anyone who could offer a point of view to the legacy of Clair Bee.
“I was lucky enough to have some really great interviews; I mean really great, with colorful individuals who could really express themselves well,” said Gildea, “Writing this book was actually quite pleasurable.”
Fellow Springfield College Professor Marty Dobrow attests to Gildea’s striving work ethic: “I live only 2.2 miles from campus, and from time to time over the past few summers, I stopped into my office. Most of the time, the light was on down the hall in Professor Gildea’s office, and he was in there plugging away at the book.”
The effort shows in his result, a detailed depiction of an icon who, for decades, was synonymous with the word basketball. It covers the good and the bad, the highs and the lows.
What might have been the best part of the evening was seeing the definitive joy on Gildea’s face when he read and spoke about what it took to write Hoop Crazy, because so many times, especially when he’s brandishing his signature grin, it’s tough to tell whether or not the incumbent joker is being truthful.