One of the biggest moments in Tyler Relph’s days as a high school basketball player at McQuaid Jesuit High School (Rochester, N.Y.) came long after he graduated.
Relph, named Mr. Basketball in 2003 as the state’s top high school senior player, was inducted into the Section V Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. Former McQuaid coach Joe Marchese, in a wheelchair during a battle with multiple system atrophy (MSA), was there, just as he had been during a few other important moments in Relph’s life, including a rise to NCAA Division I college basketball.
“The biggest thing to me is that how much he was suffering at that time, he took the time to come and partake,” Relph said. “It meant a lot to me.
“Everything I achieved, would not have been possible without him. Out of anybody, it was the most important that he was there.”
Relph is not the only former McQuaid player with that level of respect for Marchese. Far from it. This is a tie shared through different waves of McQuaid players, including those on the 1988, 1997 and 2003 state champions, and they will remind each other of that after the death of Marchese on Tuesday. He was 68.
“He knew the game but that was kind of secondary,” Section V Basketball Hall of Famer and former McQuaid star Greg Woodard, 48, said. “He also knew the kids, that was the special thing about Joe Marchese.
“He was a McQuaid student, teacher and administrator, so he had a connection with the kids on and off the court. He got to know you, not just when you showed up for practice and the games. He didn’t have a cookie-cutter approach, where he treated everyone the same.”
There were also eight Section V champions among Marchese’s teams in 19 seasons, spanning from 1986 through 2005. His record upon retirement from McQuaid in 2006 was 306 wins, 142 losses.
“You also have guys who are big-time players in where they live, work and worship,” McQuaid athletic director Matthew Thomas said. “I’ve heard some amazing stories today, and not just basketball stories.”