McDaniel coach Flynn dies at 49 of heart attack

Cardinal Gibbons alumnus led alma mater back to prominence in Catholic League

January 14, 2007|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun reporter

McDaniel College coach Bob Flynn, a fixture on the local basketball scene for more than three decades, died of a massive heart attack Friday night.

Flynn, 49, was stricken at his Catonsville home and died at St. Agnes Hospital, across Caton Avenue from Cardinal Gibbons School, where he had played and coached.

"We are in shock and disbelief," said Jamie Smith, the McDaniel athletic director. "Bob was so positive and enthusiastic. He established an atmosphere here that we need to continue."

McDaniel postponed yesterday's home game against Ursinus, and Smith said it was unlikely the Green Terror would play Wednesday's scheduled home game against Washington College.

Flynn had McDaniel off to a 7-6 start, its best in two decades. Last August, while a regular at Ravens training camp, he enthusiastically talked about building the Green Terror into a contender in the Centennial Conference.

Westminster was the last stop in a career that earned Flynn many friends and few adversaries.

At Gibbons, Flynn played for the late Ray Mullis, the winningest high school coach in Baltimore basketball history. He got his undergraduate degree from Mount St. Mary's, and from 1984 to 1994, assisted the Mount's Jim Phelan, one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history.

"He was coaching a high school team here in Emmitsburg when I had an opening," Phelan said. "Bob was a knowledgeable basketball man who kept it fun for the kids. He was terrific, because he knew what we were trying to do from having watched us as a student.

"Bob went out of his way to be nice to the fringe people, from the manager to the custodial help."

Mount St. Mary's observed a moment of silence before yesterday's game against Central Connecticut.

Flynn coached St. Mary's College in southern Maryland from 1994 to 1999. His 15 wins in 1997-98 were the most for the Seahawks since they joined the NCAA in 1977.

In 1999, Flynn began a six-year stint at his high school alma mater, where he coached basketball and served as athletic director. He gradually built Gibbons back into a factor in the Baltimore Catholic League, one of the nation's premier high school leagues.

In 2003-04, the Crusaders had their best season since 1984-85, going 27-7 and ascending to the No. 1 spot in The Sun poll after an upset of Mount St. Joseph in the semifinals of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference tournament.

Gibbons alumni remember Flynn's effort to boost the school.

"He bled Gibbons red," said Rob Valderas, a Crusaders teammate and fellow member of the school's Class of 1975. "Bob didn't play much for us in high school, but he was a student of the game. He loved Coach Mullis, who was his inspiration to get into coaching, and he loved his profession."

In 2005, Flynn returned to college coaching at McDaniel, which last had a winning record in 1984-85 and last won 10 games in 1997-98.

"He was really excited about McDaniel and the direction of the program," said Mount St. Joseph's Pat Clatchey, a coaching rival and friend. "Bob spent his entire adult life helping young people. ... From the entire St. Joe community, our heart goes out to Bob's family."

Flynn is survived by his wife, Tina; a daughter, Caitlin; and twin sons, Michael and Ryan.

Breaking into the business, Glen Burnie High coach Mike Rudd was befriended on the camp circuit by Flynn. The Gophers played Dunbar last night, and Rudd planned his own tribute, one understood by anyone who saw Flynn coach at Gibbons.

"I'll have a red towel over my shoulder," Rudd said. "I feel like I've lost a brother. I don't know if Bob understood how many lives he touched."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Sun reporter Pat O'Malley contributed to this article.

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