Baseball: Mount Carmel’s Brian Hurry the Beggars Pizza/SouthtownStar 2013 Baseball Coach of the Year
When Brian Hurry was preparing for his final season of baseball at College of St. Francis in Joliet, he experienced a moment that would alter his life forever.
“A light bulb turned on inside my head,” Hurry, now 40, recalled. “Baseball had been in my life since I was 5 years old. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is it. I can’t go without baseball in my life. I have to have baseball in my life.’ ”
A fifth-year senior at the time, Hurry already had earned a degree in journalism.
Brian Hurry, sports writer?
“I decided to shift to history and education,” Hurry said. “I figured I could teach and coach.”
Mount Carmel is very fortunate he made that decision.
Prior to his arrival in 2000, Mount Carmel never had won a sectional.
In the 14 years since, Hurry has built Mount Carmel into a powerhouse, boasting a career mark of 412-136-1 and four trips to the state finals, capped by this season’s Class 4A state championship.
Along with the state title, Hurry can add the Beggars Pizza/SouthtownStar 2013 Coach of the Year to his growing list of accomplishments.
“It’s a great honor,” Hurry said. “There are a lot of great coaches in the area. The players made the plays and I have a great coaching staff. It was a total team effort his season.”
Hurry spent a season at his alma mater, St. Francis de Sales, as a varsity assistant in 1997.
He then moved to Mount Carmel, where he was sophomore coach for two seasons.
When then-varsity coach Tony Manville departed, Hurry stepped in to take charge of the program.
The Caravan won 25 games in Hurry’s first season in 2000 and never has looked back.
“I love it at Mount Carmel,” Hurry said. “Nobody does it better as far as academic and athletic excellence in the Chicago area. It’s the perfect place for me.”
Hurry grew up in the Hegewisch community and was a member of its 1988 state champion Babe Ruth team. Ten years later, he was a coach when Hegewisch repeated the feat in 1998.
In between state championships, Hurry won an NAIA national championship at St. Francis in 1993.
Two local coaches, Andrew’s Dave DeHaan and Lincoln-Way East’s Paul Babcock, were his teammates on that Saints team.
“We’re still very good friends,” Hurry said.
Twenty years after that moment, Hurry won a state title up the road from St. Francis at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
“We won the state championship (June 8, 2013) the same week we won the national championship (June 3, 1993)” Hurry said. “Two of the greatest moments of my life.”
Hurry credits a good dose of his coaching success to having played for St. Francis legend Gordie Gillespie and having the benefit of picking the brain of Mount Carmel football coaching icon Frank Lenti.
“Gordie, to me, was the greatest coach to ever lace them up,” Hurry said. “Then to be around Frank Lenti, it’s a huge advantage I’ve had. From X’s and O’s to practice organization to trusting kids to making sure they do things the right way, I’ve learned a lot from both of those men.”
He also learned a lot from his father, Dennis, who doubled as his youth baseball coach in Hegewisch.
The elder Hurry can be seen at nearly every Mount Carmel game, home and away. When the final out was recorded during the Caravan’s 2-1 state title win over Libertyville, one of the first people walking down the stadium steps to the field was Dennis.
“He came down the steps, he was crying and he gave me a hug,” Hurry said. “He taught me to love the game and to hustle and respect the game.
“He knows how hard I tried and worked for this. It’s (state title) something I was obsessed with. It’s consumed me since 2000. I’m not married and I don’t have any children. Mount Carmel is the No. 1 priority in my life. To be able to finish off the season like this is very gratifying.”