Coach’s death triggers spat over game

A New York City high school girls basketball team mourning the death of its coach will not be able to play a scheduled game Thursday because their opposing team’s administrators think more respect should be shown for their former leader.

Hours after coach Apache Paschall’s sudden death from cardiac arrest Tuesday afternoon, Nazareth athletic director Rochelle Murphy said Thursday’s game at rival Bishop Ford would be postponed.

But upon talking to the coaches and players, as well as the Ford staff and girls, it was decided they wanted a game.

Their opponent’s administration, however, did not agree and will not allow its team to take the court.

"We are a Catholic school," Bishop Ford president Ray Nash said. "The gentleman isn’t even buried yet. The day that we put more importance on any sort of a game before life and death is a day that we should stop being educators."

Nationally ranked Nazareth is insisting on the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens girls basketball game being played at 6 p.m. local time Thursday in Park Slope — or they will ask the league to recognize that Ford forfeited.

Nash is not concerned with the possibility of Ford forfeiting the game.

"If they want to prove to the world that a basketball game is more important than the death of their coach, let them go right ahead," he said. "The game means absolutely nothing in the realm of life."

Nazareth assistant coach Ron Kelley, however, believes no one should dictate how his team wants to move forward from the death of Paschall, who was considered a father figure to many of the girls.

Paschall, he said, would have wanted them to play, and they would like to take the court in his honor.

"I think it’s arrogant that adults would take the joy away from these children," Kelley said. "We didn’t ask these kids to play. They decided on their own to play the game."

Nash, on the other hand, believes this is where adults intervene and teach the life lesson that mourning lost loved ones is more important than any game.

"We’re the adults here," Nash said. "We’re the ones who made the decisions that are not supposed to be made by coaches or kids, period … It just blows my mind that they would even want to play the game."