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Martelli to emcee BLOCS gala

Phil Martelli spent the last five years of his long basketball coaching career as associate head coach at Michigan, but never gave up his home in Media, Delaware County.

So when Michigan fired head coach Juwan Howard and new coach Dusty May hired a new staff, Martelli had an easy transition back to the area.

“I’ve been away from Philly too long,” he said.

Martelli is getting back into the local scene, and on Thursday night will be the emcee for Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools’ gala at the Crystal Tea Room. The theme is Lighting Up the Future.

As he looks to the future, he wants to give back.

“BLOCS is on the top of that list,” he said.

Martelli grew up in Lansdowne, attending St. Philomena Grammar School. Next month, he’ll be the school’s commencement speaker.

He played basketball at St. Joseph’s Prep, winning a Catholic League championship as a junior in 1971 under coach Eddie Burke.

Martelli went on to star at Widener, then began a teaching career that started in 1976 at St. Martin of Tours. He taught seventh grade there for two years, later returning in 2005 as guest speaker at the parish’s first communion breakfast.

Martelli coached at the old Bishop Kenrick and later was head coach at St. Joseph’s University for 24 years.

Martelli has three children, all of whom went to St. Bernadette Elementary School in Drexel Hill. His sons Phil and Jimmy, both of whom went to St. Joe’s Prep, followed him into coaching. Phil is head coach at Bryant (Rhode Island). Jimmy is an assistant at Penn State. Elizabeth, who attended Merion Mercy, is a teacher.

The Martelli family background makes it a natural for him to support BLOCS.

“This just fits,” he said. “It’s everything I believe in. They’re servant leaders. They’re making a difference in this entire region.”

Martelli might not coach again, but said he’d like to stay close to the game as an announcer. He’d also like to mentor young coaches. And what really gets “my juices flowing” is his hope to give executive talks, particularly to school teachers. He calls it “coaching the coaches.”

Martelli will be emceeing a gala for the largest scholarship organization in Pennsylvania.

Archbishop Nelson Perez will offer an invocation. The BLOCS Teacher of the Year will be announced. The Little Flower choir will entertain. And St. Hubert graduate Amelia Hemphill, a BLOCS alum who is now a senior at Penn, will share her success story.

Thanks to donors, BLOCS raises more than $100 million annually for kids in pre-K through 12th grade.

Tickets are available at www.blocs.org/gala ••

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