Rollie Massimino remembered as Keiser Basketball plays on with 'Mass Strength'
West Palm Beach (CBS12) —
Rollie Massimino made his mark in 1985 when he coached the Villanova Wildcats to a Cinderella style National Championship. But his legacy was honored in a pregame ceremony at Keiser Univeristy on Thursday night, where he coached right up until his death in this past August.
"He was 82 years old, and he was out here running up and down the court with us like he was our age," said a smiling Deion McClenton, a Seahawks senior player.
Massimino's family was in attendance as the Seahawks tried to played through the emotions of missing their legendary leader.
"It's been a long couple of days for them," says interim head coach Dante Calabria. "We went up to the memorial yesterday, came back and had practice. There's always something, coach would do this, coach would do that, something would happen in practice and coach would say this, so he's here."
And so is the motto for this season 'Mass Stregth', something the players will wear on their hearts in the form of a patch, along with red shoes, which was Rollie's favorite color.
"He was a tough guy to all of his players," says his son R.J., who won a National Championship with dad at Villanova. "But at the same time he'd give you a hug and a kiss and tell you he loved you all of the time."
"I come from long away in Serbia," remembered senior player Andrija Sarenac. "And the first thing he told me is I'm going to take care of you like you're at home."
Massimino was retired in Jupiter back in 2006 when he was asked to help put together the then Northwood Seahawks, eventually becoming Keiser. That final decade of coaching meant everything to him according to his family.
"He loved to be around the kids and I think it made him feel younger," says his son Tom Massimino, who also coached under his Dad. "I think coaching probably extended his life to be honest with you, because it meant so much to him to want to continue to coach."
And the Seahawks felt him watching on as they beat Johnson University 75-59, playing on what will forever be known as 'Massimino Court'.