Jonathan Halpert, coach of the Yeshiva University men’s basketball team for four decades,
was walking off the home court on the YU campus after a victory over Maritime College last week.
His players wouldn’t let him leave the court.
“Sit down,” they told him.
Whereupon the players unfurled a banner they presented to Halpert — it marked that night’s victory, the 400th in the coach’s career.
“There were a lot of high-fives,” Halpert says. The players — the most recent of the 300 he has coached over the years — congratulated him.
His impending 400th coaching victory was anticipated; the banner was a surprise. “I was very pleased,” Halpert, 68, said. It showed that the players, some a half-century younger than he is, appreciate him.
Halpert, who played under the legendary Bernard “Red” Sarachak while studying at YU in the 1960s, succeeded Sarachak fulltime in 1972 and has nearly doubled his mentor’s 202 career coaching victories. Sarachak, who became the YU coach in 1940, died in 2005.
Halpert’s first coaching victory came against Brooklyn Polytechnic University, 40 years ago this month.
A retired CEO of residential programs for developmentally challenged adults, Halpert says he has no immediate plans to leave coaching. “I enjoy it,” he says. “I still enjoy the competition. I still enjoy the kids.”
Two days after the Maccabees beat Maritime College, they beat St. Joseph’s College, giving Halpert his 401st career coaching victory. Their next game is Tuesday, against Lehman College.
He says he has a modest goal as a coach: “To win more games than I lose.”