NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Jim Calhoun told graduates of the high school where he coached and taught that “the best years are ahead of you.” Still, he wouldn’t say how he would spend his own future.
After speaking at commencement ceremonies at Dedham High School on Wednesday, the coach of NCAA champion UConn Huskies said he hadn’t decided whether to return to the job he has held since 1986.
“I’m not even thinking about that,” Calhoun said in an interview. “I’m just thinking about coming home.”
Home, at least on Wednesday, was the town where he lived for 11 years and the school where he had his first real coaching success, going 20-1 in 1970-71 and 21-1 the following season when his team went to the state Division I semifinals.
He was just 28 when he got his first college coaching job in 1972 at Northeastern, guiding the team to four NCAA tournaments.
A native of the Boston suburb of Braintree, Calhoun threw out the ceremonial first pitch on April 9 at the Red Sox home opener against the Yankees. Just five days earlier, his Huskies beat Butler 53-41 to win their third national title.
“I can guarantee you I haven’t made my mind up in any way,” he said minutes after tossing that pitch. “I’m just going to try to get this team ready for next year and we’ll see what happens.”
Nearly two months later, his message — at least about his plans — was the same.
Calhoun said he enjoyed driving around Dedham by himself for several hours Wednesday and spending time with 11 of the 15 members of his 1971-72 team at Dedham High.
He was “touched,” he said, by the invitation by the Dedham High senior class and agreed in January to speak at the ceremonies, well before the late-season run that led to the Huskies’ title.
The weather interfered with the original plans for the graduation ceremony. Thunder and lightning shortly before the scheduled late afternoon start forced graduates and guests indoors into the main building of the Endicott Estate, a sprawling 15-acre site owned by the town of Dedham.
After graduates accepted their diplomas on the porch, Calhoun gave a shortened version of the speech he had planned.
He told the seniors their graduation marked a beginning, not an end, and “I envy you for all the things that are ahead of you.”
And “you start with a clean slate,” he said. “Don’t let them buttonhole you.”
He pointed to the passion of Connecticut point guard Kemba Walker, “the joy with which he played basketball and the determination that allowed him to graduate in three years.”
Then, just before finishing, Calhoun said, “There’s a lot of things I still want to do. So I better get off this porch before I get hit by lightning.”
Will Calhoun return? Make your prediction in the comments below…
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