Former Fenwick Coach Ed Galvin (1933 – 2021)

Legendary, Hall-of-Fame basketball player and coach passes away at age 88.

By Leo Latz ’76

In the long and storied history of American amateur athletics, only a miniscule fraction of coaches and athletes ever earn membership in a high school, college or professional sports Hall of Fame.

As a both a player and coach, another rarity, Ed Galvin was selected as a member of not only one, but five Halls of Fame: Chicago Catholic League, Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, St. Rita High School and Loyola University New Orleans Athletics.

Even with all of these athletic achievements and recognition, Ed was most proud of his 63-year marriage to Eileen (nee Day), his six daughters, 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Galvin passed away at his home in Glen Ellyn surrounded by his wife and family on September 18, 2021, at the age of 88.

As the son of Irish immigrants, Galvin grew up on the West Side of Chicago and, at an early age, fell in love with the game of basketball on the hardwood and asphalt courts of school gyms and Chicago Park District playgrounds. As a 6’ 5” Chicago Catholic League and All-City forward for renowned Coach Clem Naughton at St. Philip’s High School, Ed was awarded a basketball scholarship to Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana. At Loyola, Galvin set team scoring and rebound records, was the Wolfpack’s most valuable player for three straight years, a member of Collier Magazine’s All-American Basketball Team, and the 77th overall pick of the 1955 NBA draft selected by the Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76er’s).

Galvin began his Hall-of-Fame coaching career as an assistant for three years at his high school alma mater, St. Philip. Galvin left Chicago’s Westside at age 28 to become head coach at Chicago’s St. Rita High School at 63rd and Western Avenues. There, Galvin led the Mustangs to immediate and unprecedented Catholic League basketball success, winning 232 “heavyweight” and “lightweight” (5’9” and under) games in only six seasons, including one heavyweight and two lightweight league championships.

Coach Galvin at Fenwick in 1974-75.

In 1969, Galvin returned to his Chicago westside roots. Fenwick High School Athletic Director and Chicago Catholic League founder, Tony Lawless, hand-picked and personally recruited Galvin to succeed another Chicago basketball coaching legend, Bill Shay, as only the fourth head basketball coach in Fenwick history. During his 10 years at Fenwick, the Friars won two Chicago Catholic League Lightweight titles and was the first team to win three consecutive Fenwick Christmas Lightweight Tournament Championships in the 34 years of the famed tourney. After the Chicago Catholic League entered the IHSA for the first time in 1974, Galvin’s Friars won two regional championships in Fenwick’s first four years of IHSA membership.

Galvin was also voted by his peers as the Chicago Catholic League Coach of the Year for all sports in 1971.

While at Fenwick, Galvin would also serve as the first Head Men’s Basketball coach at Rosary College (now Dominican University) from 1976-78. Post-Fenwick, he was head basketball coach at North Central College (1980-82) and finished his 40-year coaching career at Illinois Math and Science Academy (1988-1997) with more than 600 coaching wins at all levels.

Galvin was also a respected athletic administrative leader as the Athletic Director at St. Rita and Fenwick High Schools, and Rosary and North Central Colleges.

And if all those long hours of coaching and managing athletic departments weren’t enough, Galvin supplemented his income to support his family through a successful business career, first as a trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and then with Galvin Marketing, which he established with his life-long friend Dan O’Donnell.

During his retirement years, in addition to spending time with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Coach Galvin and Eileen would welcome and enjoy lunches and long, story-telling visits with former teammates and players from Loyola, St. Rita and Fenwick.

Coach Galvin at Fenwick in 1975-76.

Coach Galvin’s impact and influence on thousands of Chicago-area players and their families will be remembered for many generations. Here are a few reflections from a some of his greatest players:

From Jeff Carpenter All-State and All-American player at Fenwick 1974 and member of Notre Dame’s only Final Four Team in 1978:

“For whatever reason, Coach saw potential in me and always encouraged me and my teammates.

“Coach Galvin had confidence in me from the start, and I never wanted to let him down. We all knew Coach was gruff on the outside, but he loved his boys! Plus, he had an awesome hook shot and drop kick!

“My favorite coach!”

From Neil Bresnahan, All-State forward at Fenwick in 1976 and University of Illinois four-year starter and captain of the 1980 Illini:

“Coach Galvin got the most out of every player. We always played hard, and we were always the best and most-feared rebounding team in Chicago because of his teaching and emphasis on that aspect of the game. Outside of the game, he was always there for us.

“He will be missed by all who ever played for him.”

From Jeff Norris, Fenwick ’72, St. Mary’s University MN 1976 and member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame:

“Coach Galvin taught us many things but the infamous Power Training at the very end of practice was one of the most important. Everyone thought it was physical training, but it was really mental training as well. It was the overtime of the game, and it prepared us for the realization that, no matter our situation, we can overcome it both physically and mentally. It taught us to improve our discipline to prepare for both — and the best part was we didn’t know it till later.

“Thanks again for everything, Coach. You will be deeply missed.”

From Mike “Moon” Mullins, Fenwick Captain and All-Chicago Catholic League player in 1974, St. Mary’s University MN 1978, current Head Coach of AAU Illinois Wolves:

“Words aren’t enough to thank a man who opened the doors to so many places in my life … From Fenwick, to attending college on scholarship, to my professional career as well as being an assistant for Coach Galvin at North Central College, Coach Galvin influenced my life in every area.

“He was not only my Coach, but also my father figure and my friend.

“I love you, Coach, and thank you for always being there for me.”

From Dr. Jack Gardner All Chicago Catholic League Lightweight Player at St. Rita in 1963:

“At St. Rita, Coach Galvin emphasized that, a team is not just a group of people who work together but is a group who trust each other.

“He taught us life lessons, ‘Come prepared, mentally and physically: and never, ever quit on yourself or on your teammates. Always exhibit and value honesty, compassion, optimism and perseverance.’

“We are all sad that our journey with Coach Galvin has ended, but I am forever grateful that it took place.”

From George Janky, St. Rita Class of 1966, Chicago Catholic League All-Star and two-time league scoring leader, Member of University of Dayton’s 1968 NIT Champions:

“Coach Galvin was always there for all of his players, on and off of the court. My mother passed away while I was a student at St. Rita, and Coach Galvin really helped me and my family during that difficult period of our lives.

“I was really blessed to have Coach Galvin as my high school coach. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to help me with set the foundation for the rest of my life.

“Coach Galvin not only coached me but also help make me the person I am today! He was the best!”

From Fenwick Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99: “Coach Galvin had such a positive impact on so many Friars during his tenure as Head Basketball Coach at Fenwick. Not only did he have excellent teams and players, but he was Head Coach while Fenwick transitioned to become a member of the Illinois High School Association. Over the years, his former players have shared some great memories of their time playing for Coach Galvin. Our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Galvin’s family, friends and former players.”

Arrangements are as follows: Visitation is at Williams-Kampp Funeral Home in Wheaton, IL,
on Friday, September 24th, from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Funeral Mass is Saturday, September 25th (10 a.m.), at St. James the Apostle Church, in Glen Ellyn, IL.

5 Replies to “Former Fenwick Coach Ed Galvin (1933 – 2021)”

  1. I was not one of Coaches players, but I remember him fondly from gym classes. He had a great sense of humor, and would start out each gym class by saying, “ok, line up alphabetically according to height”. I always got a kick out of it, and not everyone got it, but I always smiled when he would say it, and he would give me a smile back. He was a good guy!

  2. I am so sad to hear of one of my mentors passing.
    Mr. Galvin taught me well from my first memories at age 5 while working for my dad Howard at Fresh Meadow Golf Club. Mr. Galvin taught me life lessons that to this day resonate. Ed would drive the car with me riding “shotgun” to the York State Bank in Elmhurst with the weeks cash deposit. He made me feel important, telling me to make sure no one robbed us on route ! This was my job. Ed had skills unmatched at Fresh Meadow. He could putt a golf ball from inside the clubhouse…… thru the back door, over the cart path, past the long grass, on to the putting green very close to the hole on any given day !!

  3. Wonderful article on a GREAT coach and man. Thanks Leo for the terrific writeup. Although Ed Galvin coached at Fenwick with great success, the Fenwick basketball teams I played on in the mid sixties had to face his formidable St. Rita teams. In March 1966, we beat one of his best St. Rita teams in the CCL semis on our way to the league Championship that year. To be honest, to beat an Ed Galvin-coached team was an achievement in itself. There is no doubt he was one of the best coaches in any sport in any time that I ever saw or played against.

  4. Ed was a mentor, great resource, and teacher to a young 25yr old coach. In 40yrs of college coaching I used many of the principles and insights Ed shared with me.
    5yrs of teaching at Fenwich w/Ed will always be cherished. The Coaching World has lost a teacher and role model rest in piece buddy‼️

  5. Uncertain if my memory serves me correctly, but didn’t Coach Galvin have something to do with the formation and administration of a new Athletic Center in Elmwood Park, IL back in the day? JPH “66”

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