Perhaps it just seems as if Phil Gordon has coached basketball for as long as anyone can remember. Certainly he has provided a positive influence for thousands of youngsters he has coached and taught over the many years he’s been involved in the game. And that desire to instruct kids in the proper way to play the game has not ended just because Phil is in his 80s. After all, Phil the octogenarian was recently a volunteer assistant coach at Fowler High School.
Phillip ‘Coach’ Gordon is a 1952 graduate of Nottingham High, where he won eight letters playing basketball, baseball and football. He was selected Syracuse’s Athlete of the Year (1951-52). He then prepped at Dean Academy in Massachusetts, where he was a three-sport letterman and member of the undefeated New England Prep School champions. A 1958 graduate of Cortland State, where he played three sports, Phil also earned his Masters and Director of Health, Physical Education and Recreation certification there.
He played semi-pro baseball and began teaching phys. ed. in 1958, when he also started his coaching career at Chittenango Central. He coached the ‘big 3’ sports, but is best known for his 36 seasons as varsity basketball coach at Chittenango, where he won eight Tri-Valley League titles that spanned the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s and two Section III Class B crowns (1967 and ’77). He’s a six-time Tri-Valley Coach of the Year.
A 31-year member of the Section III Basketball Committee, Gordon’s overall head coaching record is 411-345, ranking 11th all-time among high school hoop coaches in the section. That includes a two-season stint at Canastota High (2000-02). A sought-after guest speaker, Phil has been a basketball camp clinician (including the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Coaches Clinic and NYS High School Athletic Symposium). The last three years of his 16-year stint at Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes’ All-Star Camp, Phil was camp director. For 24 years, he coached at Golden Valley Sports Camp. Phil coached the Central scholastic team at the Empire State Games and for 20 years coached boys and girls teams at the State Fair East-West All-Star Game.
His awards are too numerous to mention here, but suffice it to say he’s been inducted into many halls of fame — New York State Basketball Coaches (2004), Section III Basketball (1996) and Chittenango Athletic (2008). But Gordon is more than awards and games won; he’s always been about teaching the proper way to play the game, on and off the court.
So it is with great pleasure that the Veterans Committee welcomes Phil ‘Coach’ Gordon into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.