Photo by Jeff Vorva
Shepard Athletic Director Curry Gallagher gets in some swimming practice in September with the Astros girls team.
One thing about Shepard athletic directors, they do some interesting things.
Gwaine Perkins jumped out of an airplane in 2011 as a part of a retirement gift.
Five years later, Curry Gallagher is trying something that might not be as dangerous but hasn’t been always easy so far.
He plans on participating in one practice for every athletic team that Shepard has to offer. In September, he started things off with a girls swimming practice that left him feeling quite a bit tired after it was over. He practiced with the girls tennis team, but because he was the newbie on the team, he had to go fetch the cart with the tennis balls and wheel it to the courts.
On one recent Friday, he ran cross country and then worked in a soccer practice that featured a drill called “Gilligan’s Island.’’ There is no word if Ginger or Mr. Howell were participating, too.
Outsiders may scoff that this is a stunt, but Gallagher said he is doing it to get closer to the student-athletes at the school.
And after the way he spent 2015, let the man play. Let him run, jump, grunt and do grunt work with the athletes. He’s entitled.
Last year he opened the 2015-16 school year on the disabled list.
He was recovering from having a brain tumor removed.
Just the words “brain tumor’’ are scary, but Gallagher said he lucked out, as he has an Acoustic Neuroma tumor which had to be taken out. He lost his hearing in his left ear, but he only had to spend 48 hours at Northwestern Memorial hospital in early August and was back on the job in late September.
“If you’re going to get a brain tumor, this is the one to get,” he bragged. “I got the best brain tumor available.’’
It also gave him a new outlook on life, hence his new project of practicing with the Astro athletes.
“I feel blessed to be upright, I feel blessed to be on the good side of the green, I feel blessed to have a wonderful family and a great job,” the 40-year-old Gallagher said. “The district and the supervisors and coaches were all fantastic when I was sick.
“I do look at life differently and that’s why I want to do this.’’
Aside from a few aches and pains, it’s been rewarding.
“It’s getting back to having fun with kids,” he said. “Last year, I was sick and you kind of reevaluate your job. You’re sitting behind a desk and being an administrator is time-demanding and you are further away from kids.
“I want the kids to know me a little bit. And I want the kids at each practice to teach me something. Teach me about the team. Teach me about the sport. They can also ask me questions about Shepard athletics and being an administrator. Teach me something and I’ll teach you something.’’
Gallagher said he played football, baseball, tennis and bowling in high school in Philadelphia and ultimate Frisbee on the club level in college. He tried his hand at triathlons before his family (wife Carrie, daughters Deidre and Brigid and son Liam) started to grow.
He has worked at Marist, St. Ignatius and Richards before landing the AD job at Shepard.
He said he wants Shepard athletes to know his door is always open to them.
“I don’t want kids to look at me as the administrator who doesn’t talk to them,’’ he said. “Or the administrator who is distant from them.’’
He also said the brain surgery was just a blip in his life, similar to when he had knee surgery.
“If it grew more, it could have been life threatening,” Gallagher said. “I lost my hearing in one ear – some hard wiring was destroyed. But all they did was take a little grey matter out of my head. I was in and out of the hospital in two days. I am still so amazed by that.’’