This falls into the category of: “You never know who you will meet…”
Friday night was a fun night. I officiated a youth hockey game, grabbed a few bucks and headed to Atlantic City to meet some of my best friends, one of which was celebrating his son’s birthday. Now being age 23 or 24, celebrating your birthday with your dad means hanging out for about an hour, probably borrowing some cash and then dashing off to meet your friends. Been there, done that. Whatever. These kids today…but I digress.
So what do three guys in their 50s in Atlantic City without their wives do on a Friday night? Well, gamble a little, have a few cocktails (on the house of course) and wonder how much trouble they can get into being in AC on a Friday night without their wives. (After returning to my friend’s condo we watched the movie Hall Pass, which I found somewhat amusing considering the situation but again I digress)
So we gambled a bit, took some money from the casinos, gave some money back to the casinos, took some cocktails from the casinos – kept those – and then around 1 a.m. figured we’d call it a night. So we hopped into the car and drove to my friend’s shore hideaway.
A few bad cable movies later – including Hall Pass – we all hit the sack and slept until around 9 a.m. After quick showers we headed to breakfast at a place on the boardwalk. Had some great food and were about to leave when Johnny – the guy who runs the eatery – introduced me to Ben Coren.
Now those of you who have been around the West Chester area for many years and who go way back would know Ben Coren. I, however, did not know the man. He found out I was a West Chester University alumni and then we were off to the races.
I heard all about the good old days, his days on the gridiron, the classroom and as a coach for a bunch of teams. I heard all about the famous athletes he knew and who he played with and on and on and on. Now there would be some people who would have run the other way figuring this guy was just some old kook reliving the past.
But the more I got to talk to him the more interesting it got. He was elected to the Sturzebecker Hall of Fame last year. And inside a booklet that he was more than happy to give to me was a list of accomplishments:
— Professor of physical education and recreation at Cheyney University
— Chairman and founder of the Sturzebecker Hall of Fame
— Awarded West Chester University’s first master’s degree
— West Chester University Distinguished Alumni Award
— Football honors: All Pacific Coast center at University of Reno, Nevada, selected by United Press 1944; first West Chester University football player to receive Little All American guard and Honorable Mention All American 1947 by the Associated Press; All Pennsylvania State and All East Coast
— Chairman of testimonial dinners for Dr. Russell L. Sturzebecker and Dr. Glenn Killinger
— Inducted into the Killinger Foundation Football Hall of Fame
— Played football in Burley Bowl at Johnson City, Tennessee, and the Cigar Bowl in Tampa, Florida, 1947-48
— Inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, 2002
— Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Delaware County chapter
— Co-chairman and found, Cheyney University Alumni Hall of Fame
— 1998 Legion of Honor Medallion, The Chapel of Four Chaplains
— Founder of Indian Springs Day Camp
Now one would think that after all of this in Coren’s life that he would be slowing down a little. Nope. This guy is still running around like he’s a spring chicken. He took me upstairs to his condo to meet his wife and to show off all of his awards – and there are a boatload of them – in fact, almost an entire wall of them.
Of course I told him that we were involved in helping to start the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame of which he is currently not a member of – for now.
Judging from his resume, though, it certainly appears that Ben Coren needs to be there.
I can’t even imagine playing against this guy when he played football. He’s smart as a whip so I am guessing he was a devil on the field. He told me a story where he was the quarterback and he would always be changing plays in the huddle – including one in a big game where he led the team to a TD. His coach of course was thrilled that he changed the play – especially when it led to the touchdown.
Yes Ben is quite the character. And right now he’s living the life we’d all love to live. He’s retired, living at the shore in a high-rise condo overlooking the ocean. Not a bad deal.
And he has lots of excellent stories to tell. I hope the people he meets (besides me) are listening. These are the jewels of our region that we need to remember and honor.
— Andy Hachadorian
Here’s a link to read about Ben: http://www.phillyjewishsports.com/viewInductee.asp?ID=118