Sports

Longtime basketball coach Raymond Townsend leaves lasting impact in South Bay


Raymond Townsend Sr. coached tirelessly for nearly six decades, across practically every court and diamond in the South Bay. So it was a little surprising to his family a few years back when he said he was ready to slow down.

Townsend, then 80, moved to Palm Springs to “play golf, you know, retirement stuff,” Raymond Jr., the oldest of five Townsend children, recalled.

It turned out Raymond Sr., always the strategist, had a different play in mind.

Raymond Sr. wasn’t in the desert more than a few days before landing a spot on the Rancho Mirage High boys basketball team’s coaching staff.

“Coaching and sports; that was his life,” said daughter Michelle. “He was so good at what he did. And he enjoyed it so much.”

A passion for teaching, competition and attention to detail are some of the legacy left by the longtime San Jose resident, who died Oct. 22 following complications from a heart attack. He was 83.

“He was always looking to help people,” said Mike Motil, the St. Francis High boys basketball coach and longtime family friend. “People gravitated toward him.”

Born July 10, 1936 in Apollo, Pennsylvania, Raymond was a child when his father, who was serving in the U.S. Army, was transferred to Monterrey’s Fort Ord. It was a move that established the roots for one of the most prolific sports family trees the Bay Area has ever seen. And it’s still growing.

Courtesy of the Townsend family.Longtime South Bay coach Raymond Townsend Sr., front row,second from the right, recently passed away. He was 83. All five of hischildren were starting basketball players at San Jose’s Camden High. Front row from the left:Michelle Peterson, Patrice Davis, Townsend and Wendy Townsend. Back rowfrom the left, Raymond Townsend Jr., and Kurtis Townsend.

It starts with Raymond Sr., an only child who was a baseball, football and basketball star at San Jose High in the mid-1950s and played briefly in the Milwaukee Braves system, where he crossed paths with Hank Aaron. His wife of 48 years, Virginia, who died in 2003, also was the sporty kind — even at little more than 5 feet tall — playing community softball and tackle football.

All five of the Townsend kids — Raymond Jr., Kurtis, Michelle, Patrice and Wendy — were high school basketball standouts. Four went on to play college sports. Only six years separate the oldest sibling from the youngest, creating a unique hardwood event during the 1974-75 basketball season. That season there were six Townsends playing competitive basketball because Raymond Sr., at the age of 39, made the San Jose City College squad (but more on that later). Raymond Jr. went on to star at UCLA and was a first-round pick by the Warriors in 1978, where he became the first Filipino-American to play in the NBA. Kurtis played in the NCAA Tournament with Western Kentucky and then followed his dad into coaching. He started at Cal and has been on Bill Self’s staff at Kansas since 2004.

The Townsend intensity and passion for sports hasn’t …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

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