Tournament will honor longtime teacher and coach, Trower

    At age 16, Kevin Trower was in attendance at the first CYO basketball tournament.
    That was 61 years ago.
    In 1963 he coached his alma mater, Jesuit, to its first CYO championship.
    Trower, who spent a lifetime teaching young men and women the fundamentals of basketball and enlightening their minds as a classroom teacher, will be honored for his contributions by the state’s longest-running tournament during its championship match.
    It is a well-deserved honor for a man who has always considered the annual tournament to be the most prestigious in Louisiana.
    He learned the game from two of the best teachers – Johnny Altobello, whose St. Aloysius teams won the first three CYO tournaments, and Cliff Wells, Tulane’s basketball coach.
    When Trower began his coaching career at Holy Name of Jesus School, he sought the advice of both men.
    “Both coaches were very nice and helpful to me,” Trower recalled. “They would talk basketball with me, and I appreciated it. I studied the things Altobello did as a coach when he was at De La Salle, and many of my former students went on to play for him.”
    Altobello moved to De La Salle in 1953 and promptly won the CYO title as a coach for the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh consecutive years from ’53 through 1956.
    Trower moved up from the elementary level to Loyola University in 1957 to teach English, education and physical education. His first coaching duties included positions as an assistant basketball and head track and tennis coach. Within two years, his ability to motivate young men attracted the eyes of the Jesuit administration, which, in 1959 encouraged the 25-year-old to return to Carrollton and Banks to teach Latin and English and to serve as head basketball and baseball coach.
    He was now in the arena having to match wits and strategy against one of his idols: Altobello.
    “It was a great challenge to play against his teams,” Trower said. “He was a basketball god who once told me about his teams, ‘We will always control the game, no matter who or where we play.’
    “So I decided that we would control the game at Jesuit as well, and when we played De La Salle, I  always felt like we were succeeding against them (win or lose) because both teams were in control of the game.”
    In the 1962 tournament, Jesuit did indeed control the game and won its first team title. Its captain, Peter Michel, was named the tournament MVP. Two years later, Jesuit overwhelmed Fair Park, 89-57, for the Class 3A state championship. Trower was named Louisiana’s High School Coach of the Year.
    During his stay at Jesuit, Trower coached the 1960 baseball team to the American Legion Little League National Championship and the 1961 state title. In 1962, his Legion team finished third in the nation. His basketball teams won two CYO titles.
    He became a hot item in the coaching ranks. He was swept away by LSU in 1964 to serve on the basketball and baseball staffs. There he worked on his doctorate degree in education. Two years later he moved on to Spring Hill as its head basketball coach.
    “But I was very unhappy living outside of New Orleans, and I always felt that teaching and coaching in high school was where I belonged,” he explained. So he returned in 1967 to teach three subjects and coach three sports at the new St. John Vianney.
    Trower’s 43-year odyssey in education has taken him to Jesuit, Holy Cross, St. John, Archbishop Chapelle and now Ecole Classique, where, at age 77, he still teaches Latin and serves as the girls’ basketball coach.
    During his career Trower has helped develop such coaches as Billy Kennedy of Texas A&M, who is also his stepson; Newman athletic director Billy Fitzgerald; Loyola head coach Dr. Mike Giorlando; Dillard head man Bernard Griffith; veteran Jesuit coach Chris Jennings; and Archbishop Shaw’s Jim Robarts, who, while at Rummel, won three state championships.

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