Nastase Was A Coaching Great On and Off the Court
It may be that I owe getting hired at WOBM to Bob Nastase. It was July of 1979 and the radio station was looking to hire its first-ever full-time Sports Director. I had been approached about interviewing for the position and had a meeting at the offices which were located in Bayville at that time. The General Manager met me in the lobby and brought me to the office of Bob Levy who it turns out would be the one conducting the interview. He asked me five questions and I only remember two of them. Who were Warren Wolf and Bob Nastase? I gave a full detailed answer and Levy then called the GM on the intercom and said…”he’s the guy.” I started later that month and have never left.
I bring this up because it was my first thought when I heard that Nastase had died in a Charlotte, North Carolina hospital on March 13 following a prolonged stay due to pneumonia. Today family and friends will gather in Fort Mill, South Carolina to pay their final respects to a true coaching legend. Depending on your era Bob is best known for tenure at Lakewood High School which included state basketball titles in 1967 and 1975 and three Shore Conference Championships or at Toms River North in the 90’s when he guided the Mariners to three consecutive division titles, the Shore Conference Tournament Finals in 1996 and the WOBM Christmas Classic crown in 1998. He would return for a second brief stint before retiring for good in North Carolina. I remember very well him holding court during the seeding meetings for our holiday tournament and continuing to talk basketball over a nightcap…he was always among the last to leave.
By the way, in between Lakewood and Toms River North he was a college assistant at what was then UNC-Charlotte and Oral Roberts, coached a high school team in Charlotte, and later even coached an ill-fated pro team that played at the Piner Palace for one summer. A Penn State graduate he came to Toms River in 1964 and before taking the Lakewood job had a successful season at what is now TR South around the same time another PSU grad (Ron Signorino) was building a football program. Those two would be linked to coaching greatness for decades.
Nastase was 24/7 basketball and loved practices even more than games…he would think nothing of 3-hour sessions because there he could teach which is what he loved. He also loved his family which included his wife of 61 years “Aggie”, five children (Robby, Jill, Jodi, Jay and Cara) and six grandchildren.
More noteworthy than his won-loss record was the impact he had on players, many of whom thought of him as a second father. That is the ultimate measure of success.