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Jesuit boys basketball coach Neal Goldman earns 700th career win

The USF alumnus is the area’s second-winningest boys prep coach.
 
Longtime Jesuit High boys basketball coach Neal Goldman celebrates with his players after collecting career win No. 700 with a 69-33 win Saturday at Carrollwood Day.
Longtime Jesuit High boys basketball coach Neal Goldman celebrates with his players after collecting career win No. 700 with a 69-33 win Saturday at Carrollwood Day. [ JOEY KNIGHT | Times ]
Published Dec. 3, 2023

TAMPA — For nearly four decades, he has bowed to a superstition steeped in tension and tidiness. At 64, Jesuit High boys basketball coach Neal Goldman still cleans parts of his house the day of a game.

On Saturday, it was the windows of the Westchase home he and wife Mary purchased last year.

“It’s like nervous energy,” Mary said. “He used to always vacuum, but we don’t have too much rug or anything.”

For the 700th time in his career, Goldman celebrated in spotless digs Saturday afternoon. The Tigers’ 37th-year coach earned victory No. 700 with a 69-33 road triumph against Carrollwood Day in his second attempt at the milestone.

A USF alumnus who starred as a point guard at Walt Whitman High in Bethesda, Maryland, Goldman (700-313) stands at No. 2 on the all-time victories list for Tampa Bay area boys coaches. Tampa Prep’s Joe Fenlon, the Terrapins’ coach since 1983, has 835 victories. Retired Lakewood coach Dan Wright (686) is third on the list.

“My wife and my kids have supported my whole career, just allowing me to do this,” said Goldman, a father of two grown sons. “I’m so lucky, I get great kids to coach every year. They’re high-character guys, they’re fun to coach, they work so hard for me, and that’s why I’ve been able to stay at one place for all these years.”

An assistant on the 1984 Jesuit team that won a Class 3A state title behind current Tigers athletic director Terry Rupp, Goldman was promoted three seasons later when John Szponar resigned as Tigers coach. Since then, his teams have collected 15 district titles and earned three final four berths, highlighted by a Class 5A state crown in 2013.

During that stretch, his mop of black hair has betrayed nary a strand of gray, and his game-day attire — white or light-blue dress shirt, dark tie, dark slacks — hasn’t changed. Joe Sansonetti, his assistant for 19 years, remains at his side.

“Since (Sansonetti) has been on our staff, our program’s (gone) to another level,” Goldman said.

On Saturday, Goldman’s team rallied from an early five-point deficit with an 18-6 run to end the first half. Senior Nate Boakye (game-high 26 points) scored 10 points during the surge including two 3-pointers and a two-handed dunk from the baseline.

“Jesuit High School, the whole community is so behind me,” Goldman said, “and I’ve learned so much and grown from just being in that spot for all these years.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls