Alumni look to honor beloved former Fort Hamilton basketball coach

February 13, 2017 Jaime DeJesus
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Honoring a local legendary coach.

Fort Hamilton alumni are lobbying to pay tribute to former basketball coach Ken Kern by naming the school’s basketball court and a scholarship after him.

The idea started when a former player from Bay Ridge, Dennis Murphy, visited Kern — who coached the team from 1965 to 1985 and racked up over 300 wins in the process — in Florida where he is retired and living with his wife.

“It turns out there are about 20 college basketball courts named after coaches so it was talked about that maybe they could name the court at Fort Hamilton after Coach Kern.” said Robert Adamski, a Fort Hamilton graduate who served as the basketball team’s manager from 1961 to 1964, and who, along with his brother and other alumni, began looking into how to accomplish it.

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Adamski, who is also member of the Fort Hamilton High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame, recalls the significance Kern had on his team and the community. “His effect on people goes way beyond the basketball court,” Adamski said. “He found players in junior high and convinced them to come to Fort Hamilton, telling them that they’d have a better education and chance to get ahead by playing at the school. There were many students  that wouldn’t have had that opportunity had they not met Coach Kern and followed his advice.”

Adamski and the others approached Kaye Houlihan, the school’s principal, about the possibility of naming Fort Hamilton’s court after Kern.

Photo courtesy of Robert Adamski
Photo courtesy of Robert Adamski

“In addition to renaming the court, which may be difficult because the Department of Education rules are you can only name them after people have passed away, Houlihan suggested a scholarship be given in his name,” Adamski said. “The committee went with the idea to see if we could reach out to former players and alumni to help contribute to the scholarship.”

Meanwhile, the school is looking into what it would take to put his name on the court.

According to Adamski, Kern — who is in his early 80s, is healing from a broken hip and is starting to suffer from dementia — would be honored by the recognition. “He’d take a lot of pride in the realization that his name is going to go on even after he passes,” Adamski said.

Kern recruited some notable players like Bernard King and brother Albert King, who both went onto college basketball and the NBA. Bernard was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

“Along the way there were coaches that built bridges to my dreams,” said Bernard during his induction speech. “I had great coaching from Ken Kern, my high school coach.

“He was very professional and did what needed to be done in terms of preparing the team with responsibilities,” Bernard added. “It helped me because I went on to college and was manager of the freshman team at Lafayette College.”

A Crowd Rise site has launched in an effort to raise funds for the scholarship and a possible court name change. To make a donation, visit

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