former Camden Catholic football coach
Jim Delaney dies at 83
by Phil Anastasia, Updated: April
(philly.com, The Inquirer, Dailey News)
Jim Delaney's last football team
at Camden Catholic won nine games.
team lost nine games.
"He was exactly the
same guy both years," said Mike Cornely, a junior on the 1978 team that
went 0-9 and a senior on the 1979 team that went 9-2 and won the South
Jersey Parochial A championship.
"He was a gentleman,
at all times, in every situation."
A legendary coach for
the Irish whose influence on his players ranged far beyond the football
field, Mr. Delaney died Monday of complications from Alzheimer's
disease. He was 83.
"He's the rason I'm a coach,"
said Phil Petitte, who played for Mr. Delaney's undefeated 1966 team and
currently serves as an assistant coach at Rowan University. "I wanted to
be Jim Delaney."
Said Bill Tambussi, a prominent local attorney
who played for Mr. Delaney in the mid-1970s: "I truly mean this: If he
had called me last night and said he wanted me to walk through a wall of
fire, I would have done it, no questions asked. He was just that kind of
|Jim Delaney (right) and Monsignor Andrew
Martin at Camden Catholic's Hall of Fame induction in 2009.
Mr. Delaney was Camden Catholic's
football coach for a total of 13 seasons in two stints, from 1963-69 and
1974-79. He is the program's all-time leader in career victories with
62, and his 1966 team, which featured Notre Dame-bound Mike Kondrla, was
the school's last undefeated squad.
Joe McColgan, who like
Petitte was a player on the 1966 team and an assistant on the 1979 team,
called Mr. Delaney one of the most influential people in his life.
"He had the unique
ability to motivate young men to levels of success on and off the field
that they didn't believe was possible," McColgan said.
In a statement, Camden
Catholic said, "Coach Delaney is revered among generations of alumni for
his legendary coaching style, mentorship and inspirational leadership."
Mr. Delaney graduated
from Northeast High in Philadelphia and served a stint in the U.S. Army
before attending West Chester (Pa.) State, where he was a standout
running back and sprinter for the track team.
He was an assistant
football coach at La Salle High School and Gloucester Catholic before
becoming Camden Catholic's head coach in 1963 at age 27.
"He was tough,"
Petitte said. "Three-hour practices. Drill after drill. You had to be a
tough kid to play for him."
Mr. Delaney coached four O'Brien
brothers at Camden Catholic, including Terry in the 1960s and twins Tim
and Kevin as well as Pat in the 1970s.
"His first season in
1963 he was coaching Terry and I was 6 and the twins were 7 and we used
to tell Coach Delaney we were going to play for him one day," Pat
O'Brien said. "When he came back the twins' senior year and my junior
year in the locker room before our first game he said, O'Brien brothers,
you always said you wanted to play for me, now's your chance."
"We would have run
through a wall for Coach Delaney."
Mr. Delaney spent
years assisting the ministry work at Sacred Heart Church in South
|Jim Delaney with his undefeated 1966
Camden Catholic team.
went every Saturday morning," Terry Delaney said of his father. "It
would be 48-50 Saturdays a year, for 30 years."
Mr. Delaney also was
deeply involved with Heart of Camden, an agency that rehabilitates and
resells homes in Camden.
"That always was a
joke since he had no know-how," Terry Delaney said of his father's
carpentry skills. "But somehow some of those houses are still standing."
Mr. Delaney, who spent nearly
three decades as a guidance counselor at Cherry Hill East High School,
was something of a Renaissance man. He held season tickets to the opera,
traveled extensively to Europe as a chaperone on school trips, was a
voracious reader and was well-versed in music and art.
|Jim Delaney won 62 games in two stints
at Camden Catholic. He is the program's all-time leader in
"He used to drag us to
the art museum all the time," Terry Delaney said.
Even Mr. Delaney's
involvement in athletics reflected his diverse interests. He coached
track as well as football. He helped started the wrestling program at
Camden Catholic. He was a strong promoter of women's sports.
"He was like the
perfect Catholic-school football coach," Cornely said.
Mr. Delaney is
survived by his wife, Betty; children Terry, Maureen, Kathleen, Beth and
Mimi; and 15 grandchildren.
There will be a
visitation Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Caruso Funeral Home in Pennsauken.
There will be another visitation from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday at Sacred
Heart Church in Camden, followed by a funeral Mass.
Last Revision Date: May 2, 2019