Spring Valley High School Coach Beats the Odds
In honor of Black History Month, we turn the spotlight on our very own Willie Worsley, who has been working as a basketball coach and security guard for the past 36 years.
Mr. Worsley’s is one of our country's barrier-breakers! He played at Texas Western as a member of the all-black starting five — the first in NCAA history — that defeated all-white Kentucky to win the 1966 National Championship. That historic moment was depicted in the 2006 film Glory Road.
Worsley was only 5 foot 6.
“I was told I was too short, and the last thing I would be is a basketball player.” Worsley recalls.
Mr. Worsley went on to play for the New Jersey Nets in the American Basketball Association (paired against the legendary Tiny Archibald, his childhood friend), has been inducted into 12 Halls of Fame (thus far), and met several U.S. Presidents.
With his decorated resume and prolific life experiences, Worsley could have coached anywhere. In 1986, he chose to coach basketball at Spring Valley High School. Last spring, Spring Valley celebrated winning his 300th game last spring, and is in the top 5 all-time wins for Boys Varsity Basketball in Rockland County History.
“I identify with the kids here, with the problems they have. I was raised by a single mother working two jobs. She believed in me and encouraged me to work hard for what you want every step of the way,” Worsley smiles. “Just like me, these kids need to be convinced of their potential, not reminded of their limitations.”
Mr. Worsley continues to coach, and enjoys interacting with the students on a day-to-day basis as a member of the security staff. He is proud of his twin granddaughters, Kayla and Mahogany, who are currently playing college basketball at Montclair State University. Their “Papa” hopes to watch a game soon, once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Fox Five Interviews Mr. Worsley in August 2017