From one Crawford to another

Camden Catholic's Jim Crawford, with 713 career victories, will now assist his son, Matt. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff
Camden Catholic's Jim Crawford, with 713 career victories, will now assist his son, Matt. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff
Posted: October 21, 2013

Matt Crawford laughed when asked what it will be like to be able to boss around his dad. Crawford is in the unusual position of having his father work for him.

On Tuesday, Jim Crawford announced his resignation as boys' basketball coach at Camden Catholic, where he will switch chairs with his 33-year-old son and serve as an assistant coach.

"I will have the best assistant coach in South Jersey on my bench," Matt Crawford said.

Indeed he will.

And he'll have an assistant willing to do anything to help Camden Catholic maintain its status as one of South Jersey's finest programs.

"If Matt tells me to sweep the floor, I will do that," Jim Crawford quipped. "I am at his mercy."

No, Jim Crawford won't be walking with a broom. No longer the overseer, he looks forward to a different working relationship with the players.

"I really enjoyed being an assistant coach under Monsignor McDermott, because not only did I learn a lot, but I enjoyed giving more individual time with players," Jim Crawford said. "As a head coach, you are always doing things for the team and can't get as much into individual instruction as you would like."

The elder Crawford, who guided Camden Catholic to three state titles, seven sectional championships, and 713 victories, will be an invaluable part of the program.

Matt Crawford understands there will be questions about following such an accomplished coach, but he comes with his own impressive resume. He was a point guard at Camden Catholic and the University of the Sciences and has been an assistant for nine years, four with Camden Catholic.

So he has paid his dues and doesn't seem overwhelmed by replacing his father. The younger Crawford certainly learned a lot from being around the Irish program for most of his life. And one thing he understands is that the final decision goes to the head coach, and he's eager to take on that challenge.

It's not a power trip, but simply the most efficient way to operate.

"My dad used to listen to his assistants, but it was always his final decision," Matt Crawford said. "I will listen to my assistants, but at the end of the day, I will make decisions."

The rest of Camden Catholic's coaching staff will remain intact, and there will be plenty of knowledge to draw from with Robert and Joe Murtin, Pete Dooner and Msgr. Bob McDermott.

What is interesting is that Jim Crawford said he made this decision around Christmas time in 2011. Jim Crawford, 61, just felt it was time. He will continue to teach math at Camden Catholic and looks forward to his new role. He says his health is fine, but he understands the energy level isn't the same as when he first became a head coach at age 26.

"If you talked to some of the older coaches, they all tell you when you sit in the chair after practice, it feels pretty darn good," Jim Crawford said.

Matt Crawford said that when his father first told him of his plans in 2011, "I was hoping he would change his mind, and I would have been happy being his assistant for 30 years."

Once he realized his father was sticking to his decision, Matt Crawford became excited. He loves coaching and loves Camden Catholic, where he teaches science.

"I can't remember one winter that wasn't based around Camden Catholic basketball," Matt Crawford said. "This place means so much to me."

And it means even more to begin this new journey with a person at his side who is both a coaching legend and his dad - a desired combination if there ever was one.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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