Former Chester High School Clippers boys basketball coach Alonzo Lewis taught the young men of Chester not only lessons on the basketball court but for life. When Lewis would say “toenails,” his players would form a line by the baseline to hear him share these lessons.
Lewis, a Chester Clippers coach from 1985-1994, passed away in February 2012 at the age of 77 after being hit by a car in the East Falls area of Philadelphia. He led the Clippers to two PIAA Class AAAA titles in 1989 and 1994. Alonzo Lewis spent 20 years of his life as a basketball coach with his overall record as 433-146.
Despite being a talented athlete himself, Lewis was not only a skilled coach but a educator and teacher who stressed the importance of education for success in life. According to former Academy Park coach Rick Pergolini, “He touched so many people on and off the court. He loved education and he loved people who wanted to learn. And I never saw him give up on a kid, on the court or in the classroom. If a kid on the team needed help, he would go to the players or his fellow teachers to get that player or student the help he or she needed.”
In addition, Chester assistant coach Derrick Spence, who had also played for Lewis while a student at Chester, reiterated Lewis’s belief that education was “the key to success” and that basketball was “a tool, a vehicle, to get where we wanted to go.”
With the passing of a basketball coach extraordinaire, it reminds us of the importance that mentors and positive influences have on young people’s development.
The Clippers have won seven state titles (1983, 1989, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2008 & 2011), and Chester’s collective record since the 1911-12 season is 1,747-710.