Latest Issue

Mild-Mannered Muncy Mentor

It was the final game of the regular basketball season. Muncy’s varsity was looking to strengthen its hold on a Class AA number one seed. Its Junior Varsity team was looking for payback against a South Williamsport team that had inflicted one of the team’s three losses during its fine 13-3 season.

Yet, despite the importance of the moment to his team, veteran Muncy assistant coach John Brink instantly walked the length of the court to welcome a coaching rival. His gesture was sincere, his always pleasant mood apparent as he inquired about health and family and carried on a five-minute conversation that had little to do with basketball. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has ever met the man. If Webster’s Dictionary ever decides to place illustrations besides its words, John Brink’s photo should be next to the word “gentleman.”

The shadow of John Brink has long been cast over decades of Muncy sports activities. The U.S. Army veteran and member of the Muncy Athletic Hall of Fame will be coaching his 50th year in the Muncy Little League this spring. He has also served as elementary basketball coordinator for both boys and girls for 36 years, Muncy girls basketball coach for 22 years, and Junior High boys’ basketball for five years and currently is a valued member of coach Jason Gresh’s high school staff. Along the way, he has received coach of the year honors and was named the recipient of District IV’s Coach’s Sportsmanship award.

While longevity has been a trademark of Brink’s service to his community, he shuns the spotlight and is much more comfortable pushing others forward when it comes to accepting credit. Those who know him best relish the wealth of stories he sometimes shares, often in a self-deprecating way.

Muncy athletic director Curt Chilson vividly recalls the time Brink ordered a slice of pizza at the Original Italian Pizza in Millville, only to be told they were out of pizza. Chilson has also heard the tale from the late ’80s when a coach told Brink if they traveled to their place for a game, he would feed the Muncy girls team after the game. When the game ended, that coach threw a bag of apples across the floor to John.

“I’ve known John for 18 years, and he has become one of my best friends,” Chilson said. “When I took the AD job in 2003, John had been serving as the interim AD. He didn’t know much about the position, but when the school district asked him to serve as the interim, he accepted as he so often has done to help people out.

“If you need to know something about the history of how something came to be in Muncy, he usually has the answer. He is the consummate professional and is well respected by everyone that knows him. He is a fantastic role model for kids, and we are lucky to have him involved with our school district and our student-athletes. He is always prepared, always on time, and always has a great attitude.”

No one is more appreciative of Brink than varsity basketball coach Gresh.

“I am extremely blessed to have the staff that I have. John is invaluable to the success of our program. He is a wealth of knowledge. I have always said that my goal is to tap into as much as possible before he decides to retire. Not many head coaches are willing to step out of a huddle at critical times during a game and allow their assistants to take over and draw up a last-second shot, play, or inbounds, but for me, it is an easy decision. I would not be able to do that if it weren’t for John. He has drawn up game-winners for us on multiple occasions.

“He is prepared and is constantly thinking ahead. When you say, someone has “been there and done that,” that is John Brink. He isn’t fazed by any of it. As a head coach, he has 299 career wins. I always tell him my goal is to hold on long enough to pass him, but that is a lofty goal.

“He shows up early and sets the gym every day. He is retired but is always ready to go. He comes to every practice with an agenda. He breaks the game down for the JV players, so they are able to understand each part of the game and continually improve. This year has been a great example. The JV team had a record of 13-3. That is phenomenal and allows our program to continue to grow.

“He wants to see the kids improve and be successful, not just in basketball, but in life. I think that is the best part of John; he wants to make people better. I know that he has made Muncy better. I also know that he had made me a better coach, and even more importantly, a better person! My gratitude to him can’t be expressed enough.”

At a time when so much negativity is being permeated in our society our communities,
schools and athletic programs need more people like John Brink; Muncy knows they have a good thing on their hands.

“John has been there to pass on to our kids the knowledge he’s gained over the last 50 years,” Gresh added. “He’s old school in the best of ways. He doesn’t ask for anything in return. He doesn’t seek recognition or praise; he just wants to help kids.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *