More than 500 people, including about a dozen current and former NBA players, turned out to honor Golda Och Academy’s teacher and coach Sandy Pyonin at a court dedication event Sunday, Sept. 9.
Randy Foye of the Utah Jazz, former NJ Gov. Richard Codey, Cobra Starship lead singer and GOA alumnus Gabe Saporta, and dozens of well-known basketball players, coaches, alumni and local community members celebrated New Jersey basketball legend Sandy Pyonin’s impact on so many lives.
“Sandy is the closest thing I have to a father. He means that much to me,” said Mr. Foye. “He taught me to see the floor, control a team. And he taught me if you have something special, cherish it. I learned about loyalty in those conversations.
“If it weren’t for Sandy, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
For more than 40 years, Sandy Pyonin – head coach of the Golda Och Academy Varsity Team and NJ AAU Roadrunners – has impacted the lives of countless students and athletes who have gone on to succeed in many rewarding careers.
Golda Och Academy Head of School Dr. Joyce Raynor said, “Sandy’s sensitivity to untapped potential – to what can be – and his positive outlook encourage the rest of us to do the same.”
In Mr. Pyonin’s honor, the school renamed the basketball court the “Sandy Pyonin Court” at the school’s Eric F. Ross Upper School Campus, 1418 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange.
Janet Herman, GOA’s Director of Athletics, said, “Most people only know or see Sandy when he’s coaching a basketball game, when he’s very loud and very vocal. But off the court, Sandy is one of the most sensitive, caring people I know. He’s a great colleague and a better friend.”
Mr. Pyonin has coached over 30 players who went on to play in the NBA including this year's rookie-of-the-year, Kyrie Irving, of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In addition, Mr. Pyonin has amassed 2,306 AAU wins and 571 wins as varsity coach for the Golda Och Academy/Solomon Schechter Day School.
GOA Class of 1992 alumnus Dafna Gold McCarthy said that because of Mr. Pyonin, “My self-confidence and my ability to believe in myself no matter what obstacles sit in front of me was just unprecedented. I owe very much to him.”