LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Pearl River High School Class of 1958
Tom O’Brien grew up in Pearl River during a time when high school sports were a very important part of the lives of the people who lived in Rockland County. Pearl River High School was located right in the center of town and if there was a football or baseball game going on, everyone in town knew it and would attend. Tom starred on that Central Avenue field for four years and in the winter, he took his talents just inside to the gym and continued his exploits on the basketball court for the Pirates. Tom was a four-year member of the football, basketball and baseball teams and upon graduation in 1958 was the winner of the Silas Champ Award given to the outstanding senior Pearl River athlete. Pearl River teammate Gene Cooper remarked of Tom, “His personal characteristics of toughness, aggressiveness and competitiveness came out in every sport he played. The fact that he achieved ‘All County’ recognition is a testament to these natural abilities.”
Soon after graduation from Pearl River, Tom began his career at St. Agnes Home for Boys as the assistant athletic director. In 1963 he was promoted to athletic director and for a grand total of 47 years, Tom worked in the Human Services field as a coach, athletic director and administrator serving troubled youth and dis- advantaged children as well as people with develop- mental disabilities. During that time, Tom kept active physically as a member of the famed Modern Auto Body softball team and even served as their manager. In 1995 Tom was inducted into the Rockland County Softball Hall of Fame.
All of the previously mentioned achievements are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the impact that Tom has had upon the Rockland County athletic community. For 46 years Tom has been a Rockland County basketball official and has officiated numerous Section 1 and Section 9 playoffs plus many regional finals in both the boys and girls divisions. He has been a longtime member of the IAABO (basketball officials organization) board of directors and has also served as its president. Tom is still officiating basket- ball today. Not one to take a season off, Tom has been a varsity baseball and softball umpire in Rockland County for 45 years. He was instrumental in Title IX implementations for Section 9 and later Section 1 in getting equality for softball umpires and is still umpiring softball today. As former Rockland County Coordinator of Officials and Hall of Famer Jim Kane notes, “He does everything with dignity and expertise, scheduling nights, getting officials, timers … He was always on the preferred list by all in basketball and baseball.”
In addition Tom has been a tremendous mentor and teacher to young officials, showing them how to handle themselves as professionals on and off the court.
Currently Tom serves as the director of the Orangetown Co-ed Softball League, which competes in the fall, spring and summer with league play for men and women. He has done that job quite successfully for more than 30 years. In addition, Tom has directed the Slo-Break Basketball League in Orangetown for
46 years and this fall is aiming to add a Co-ed division. Mark Albert, the senior recreation director for the Town of Orangetown, says of Tom, “With Tom as our director we offer competitive leagues where you still leave with a smile and a handshake. Tom O’Brien is a class act. He treats all people involved in our leagues with fairness and respect. He is a person of integrity and character.” Mark goes on to say, “A very quick count of Tom’s years here will show that he has touched well over 25,000 lives.”