Czar’s Got Heart


Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley is one of the greatest high school coaches in our country. He has dedicated his life to producing terrific basketball players and outstanding young men at St. Anthony High School.

Coach Hurley is campaigning to raise awareness about St. Anthony and to secure financial stability for the Jersey City school for years to come. CLICK HERE for more information about how you can help St. Anthony preserve its legacy of academic and athletic excellence.

Yesterday I spoke with Krista Saponora, the executive producer of the award-winning film The Street Stops Here, about the important work Coach Hurley has done and the major impact he’s made in his community.

STA2020: When and how did you first meet Coach Hurley?

Mike: I’m from North Jersey, Hackensack area.  My hometown and Jersey City are not that far apart, geographically.  In the inner-circles of basketball in north Jersey, we obviously came across each other.  I’ve heard a great deal about him and his team, and his great success that he’s had.  A couple of times, I took the opportunity to drive and watch his teams play.  We’d meet each other, either before or after the game, and talk a little bit.  After that, we ran into each other occasionally.  At a tournament, state Finals, out-of-state tournament that he may have entered.

STA2020: When you first saw him, and you’ve heard so much about him.  What instantly stood out to you, as a coach, seeing him when he coached?

Mike: Thinking back, early on one of the first time’s that we met – either a game or a practice.  I enjoyed so much watching the discipline he had instilled in his team and how when he spoke he had everyone’s attention.  All eyes were on him…. READ MORE!

Czar’s Got Heart

Congratulations to the St. Joan of Arc Crusaders from Chagrin Falls, Ohio on their second place finish in the CYO basketball tournament. I dropped by practice the night before the big game to talk about the different ways players can help their team win, regardless of skill level, and what it takes to be champions on and off the court. This is a great group of kids, and I’m proud of the way they fought in the finals!

St. Joan of Arc basketball team

Czar’s Got Heart: 2011 Jimmy V New Jersey Dinner

A couple weeks ago I attended the inaugural Jimmy V New Jersey Dinner at The Brownstone in Paterson, New Jersey. Hosted by ESPN’s Bob Ley, we paid tribute to North Jersey native Dick Vitale – a longtime champion of Jim Valvano’s quest to eradicate cancer. Almost 400 people participated in the fundraiser, including special guest Notre Dame Basketball Coach Mike Brey.

Towards the end of the dinner Dick got up to talk about why he’s been so relentless in his pursuit of a cure for cancer. As always Dick delivered an impassioned and moving speech, explaining that he made a promise to his close friend Jimmy Valvano to continue to fight for cancer research after Jimmy’s death.

This was a great opportunity to honor an exceptional person who has dedicated an incredible amount of time, effort and work to help raise money throughout the country for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. It was a terrific evening, and I enjoyed seeing a lot of old friends and familiar faces from the North Jersey area among those who helped researchers get one step closer to finding a cure by coming out to support Dick and the V Foundation. Hopefully next year’s dinner will be even bigger and better.

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Photos courtesy of Richard Formica via The V Foundation for Cancer Research

Please CLICK HERE if you would like to make an online donation. The V Foundation awards 100% of all donations directly to cancer research and related programs and has awarded nearly $80 million to more than 100 facilities nationwide.

Czar’s Got Heart: 2011 Project Heartbeat Charity Ball

After the Jimmy V New Jersey Dinner on Friday I was able to run over to Mayfair Farms and catch the tail end of the 46th Annual Project Heartbeat Charity Ball presented by the John I. Crecco Foundation.

The John I. Crecco Foundation has donated over one million dollars in cardiac equipment to area hospitals, installed defibrillators in police cars as well as emergency squad units, purchased fire safety teaching equipment for local schools and sponsored several hundred youth athletic teams since its inception.

Both John and Marion Crecco have dedicated decades of service to the Township of Bloomfield. In addition to serving as a Councilman and the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, John was elected Mayor of Bloomfield from 1986 to 1989 and from 2001 to 2002, while Marion served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1986 to 2002.

John and Marion have always been passionate about contributing to causes dear to their hearts. It was terrific to see that these two community-minded citizens are still at it after so many years and that they continue to make a difference in the lives of countless others.

If you would like to make a donation to the John I. Crecco Foundaton please CLICK HERE.

Czar’s Got Heart: Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation Annual Gala

Last Thursday Ali and Joe Torre hosted the 8th Annual Safe at Home Foundation Gala in New York City to benefit multi-media and school-based educational initiatives to raise awareness of domestic violence.

11-time All-Star and Yankees Team Captain Derek Jeter was the guest of honor. Sports stars and fans alike turned up to lend their generous support for a cause that means a lot to Joe, who himself grew up with an abusive father.

Ali and Joe created the foundation in 2002 in order to educate students, faculty and families about domestic violence and to provide teens experiencing abuse with a safe space and counseling.

I had to be in Denver for the Lakers at Nuggets broadcast on Thursday, so unfortunately I was unable to attend. But I know first hand that the Safe at Home staff and volunteers do an incredible job organizing the event each year.

Some of the world’s top entertainers including Billy Crystal, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Mariah Carey have performed in the past, making for a truly memorable evening.

Here’s a clip from one of the benefits I attended a few years back when someone you may recognize popped in to give me a quick plug during my interview.

If you would like to make an online donation to the Safe at Home Foundation please click here, or you can call 212-880-7360.