Speedy Morris, a legendary basketball coach in Philadelphia and previous PC boys coach, was celebrated by Penn Charter on Dec. 10 with the dedication of an annual invitational tournament in his honor.
At halftime in a Friday night hoops game, before a gathered crowd of students, families and OPC basketball players in the new Graham Athletics & Wellness Center, the PC winter basketball tournament was named the Speedy Morris Invitational. In addition to naming the tournament, two coaches' chairs bearing his name were dedicated for use by coaches on Kenneth M. Caldwell OPC '89 Court. See photos on Flickr.
"Many people here...knew of Speedy's talent on the court," said Head of School Darryl J. Ford, referencing the 1,024 wins in Morris' coaching career. Morris coached the PC boys basketball team from 1982 to 1984, including the Inter-Ac Championship 1984 team.
"Speedy cared about his students on the court, he cared about his student-athletes off the court. You may have seen the wins and youth development," Ford said. "What you may not have seen was how he cared about his students outside of the arena, whether helping them with college or helping them with an opportunity or helping them get out of a troubling circumstance. That is Mr. Morris' legacy ... Speedy you have lived a life that made a difference through your support of your students and athletes on the court and off."
Members of Speedy's two Penn Charter teams were present to honor him, as were members of his family. Two players, Andy Vye OPC '83 and Joe McGarvey OPC '84 also spoke, offering memories and honors to their coach.
"Coach Morris came here in 1982 and changed the culture," said Vye. "We went from playing basketball to working to play basketball. In just two years, we flipped the balance of power and these guys won the Inter-Ac Championship in 1984."
Standing center court with his former players and PC's boys and girls basketball players behind him, Speedy Morris took the microphone. "This was a great place. I loved this place and I'll never forget these guys," he said.
Referring to the Graham facility, he drew a laugh from the crowd when he continued: "It's a great place — an amazing place. We played in a little dungeon. We had a lot of fun and we won a lot of games, but this is fantastic.
"Thanks to everyone that made this possible."
"Forever this tournament will be the Speedy Morris Invitational and the chairs on which the coaches will sit are in honor of you," said Ford. "Friends, student-athletes, coaches, students in the stands, give a nice big thank you to Speedy. You are part of a rich tradition at Penn Charter. You are part of a rich tradition at Penn Charter that is basketball. You are part of a rich tradition where your coaches and teachers are educating you to live lives that make a difference. 1-2-3; Thank you, Speedy!"
Penn Charter welcomed Central High School and Abington Friends, and Taylor Allderdice of Pittsburgh, Pa. Penn Charter's boys varsity went 2-0 in the tournament (60-53 v. Allderdice, 79-46 v. Central). Playing on Friday before the tournament began, PC's girls varsity defeated Mastery Charter 63-44.
The Speedy Morris Invitational is a basketball tournament with a public purpose. Funds donated at the tournament were given to Community Health and Gardens, inc., a non-profit committed to improving the quality of life for families in West Philadelphia through health, education and nutritional awareness.