Maguire paying it forward at Penn Charter

Joe Maguire celebrates his 100th career win this year with his family. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Joe Maguire loved basketball.

But it’s a safe bet that the great coaches he had through the years are the reason he got into the business.

When he played at St. Matt’s, he played for Mike Ginley and Jim “Parise” Ricci.

Then he went to Judge and he played for Rich Miller, Bill Koch and Bill Fox.

After leaving the Crusaders, he headed up to Holy Family University where he played for Dan Williams.

Each of these men, along with his parents, taught him many things about basketball, but more importantly about family values and responsibility. Those coaches are what made him want to pass it on to the next generation of athletes, so shortly after he graduated from Holy Family, he dabbled in coaching. And soon, he dove right in.

After getting started at St. Matt, he left to help out at Judge. Then he became an assistant at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and later at Archbishop Ryan under Mike McCusker.

Then he got an offer to take over the Penn Charter girls basketball team. Before he accepted, he was asked a tough question.

“I was told that if I take a girls basketball coaching job, it’s so hard to get a boys job, and I was asked if that’s what I really wanted,” said Maguire, who took over the girls basketball team five years ago. “And I knew I would be fine with that. I wanted to coach and it was a great job. I’m very happy I took it.”

So is the school.

The Quakers get good student-athletes for just about all of their athletic programs and girls basketball was always a solid squad.

But since Maguire took over, they’ve become elite. They’ve become one of the best teams in the always-competitive Inter-Ac League, and in the past three seasons, they’ve made a lot of noise in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament, which serves as a state championship for teams that aren’t included in the PIAA.

Three years ago, Penn Charter made the quarterfinals of the prestigious tournament. Last year they made the semifinals. And this year, they fell in the championship game.

“We’ve become pretty good, it’s a long season, but these girls really worked hard and played well together,” said Maguire, who teaches second grade at Clara Barton Elementary School in Feltonville. “We’ve been pretty successful the past few years, both last year and this year we set school records for wins.

“When I first took over, we had 17 girls at tryouts, that’s both JV and varsity, we kept everyone. This year we had 30 girls at tryouts, and that means there’s competition for playing time. And we had some really good players.”

Many of the players from this year’s team are from Northeast Philadelphia, and Penn Charter has a lot of ties to our area.

The football coach is Tom Coyle, also a Father Judge grad. According to Maguire, both schools draw the same type of people.

“I love Penn Charter, it’s really a family atmosphere, the kids are great, the teachers are great,” Maguire said. “I’m really surrounded by great people, I have great assistant coaches, they have done a great job here. It makes going to work fun.”

Fun, but also hard work.

Maguire spends a lot of time with his team, helping them prepare for the next game. And he’s coaching more than 30 games a season.

And along with his wife Lauren, he’s building quite a girls basketball team at home.

He has three daughters, Macie, 5, Sawyer 4, Hadley, 1, and another child due in June.

“I couldn’t do it without (Lauren),” Maguire said. “She is a teacher, so after school she picks up the kids from my parents. And she gets into the games. She understands because her dad was a coach, so she knows it’s a lot of time. I couldn’t do it if she wasn’t so supportive.”

Maguire is proud of what he’s built at Penn Charter.

This year he had a pair of great seniors, Kait Carter and Carmen Williams. Both players scored 1,000 points, and were the leaders of the team, but they certainly had help, meaning Penn Charter should once again be one of the top teams in the area come December.

If Maguire has his way, the Quakers will remain that way for a long time. And he’ll be the one running the show.

“The way I see it, I’m going to be at Penn Charter for as long as they want me,” Maguire said. “It’s a great school. I love the kids there, it’s a great school academically and we’re doing something special with the basketball team. It’s a tough league, but we’re competing.”

And he’s doing for his players exactly what his coaches did for him.

Maybe they won’t all become basketball coaches, but if they need anything, their coach will always be there for them.

“I was so lucky to have great coaches help me,” said Maguire, who will be inducted into the St. Matt’s Hall of Fame this year. “I had great coaches and that made me want to do this. So many coaches have helped me, I’ve had good ones at every level. That’s definitely made me a better coach.”