For Howard, fond memories at Chestut Hill Academy

Posted: July 11, 2014

GERALD HOWARD became the first black basketball player at Chestnut Hill Academy to be selected first team All-Inter-Ac in 1992 when he was chosen by league coaches after averaging 11.5 points on a team that shared the title with Germantown Academy.

Howard went on to a distinguished track and field career at the University of Virginia where he still holds school records in the 100-meter (10.42) and 200-meter (20.79) dashes. He is currently an IT professional living in Lafayette Hill with his wife and three children.

He grew up in East Mt. Airy and matriculated through the school from pre-kindergarten. And although navigating divides in race and class wasn't easy, Howard found solace and success in sports and also graduated with an award for excellence in arts and music (piano and violin).

"I think as I got older and I was recognized for some of my athletic abilities and musical talent, a lot of that stuff went away and that's been my experience anytime I've been on an athletic team," he said. "I guess that's why I liked team sports more than individual sports because everyone on the team transcends that white-black thing and it just becomes you're seen for your merits and what you're contributing to the team and not necessarily where you come from and what you look like. That's something that I cherish from my time at CHA in athletics. I have lifelong friends from that experience that will never go away."

Episcopal Academy senior Chris McNeal was a first-team basketball selection as a junior and earned second-team honors this season. McNeal, who attended EA from kindergarten on, will attend Dickinson next year and play basketball. He is also a violinist on school's orchestra and appreciated his parallels with Howard.

"It's an honor because African-American people that come before you are the reason that I'm able to do this and play sports and even go to a school like Episcopal," McNeal said. "I wouldn't be able to do that without people like him."

McNeal also hopes that in some way he may be able to influence younger generations the way future NBA players at Episcopal did for him.

"Seeing lower-schoolers and middle-schoolers at our games and maybe them looking at me and saying that they want to play would be really cool. I know I did that when I was watching Gerald Henderson [Charlotte] and Wayne Ellington [Dallas] play."

Among others in the Inter-Ac to become the first black basketball players to earn first-team honors at their respective schools were: Malvern Prep's Charlie Floyd (Wake Forest), who averaged 19.4, 19.2 and 20.4 points respectively from 1972 to 1974 . . . Germantown Academy's Rodney Duncan (Rutgers), who averaged 20.8 and 26.1 in 1975 and 1976 . . . Haverford School's Charlie Miller (Arizona), who averaged 17.2, 16.0 and 13.6 from 1976 to 1978 . . . Episcopal Academy's Charles Hickman (Drexel), who averaged 16.3, 13.6 and 19.8 from 1979 to 1981.

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