Prior to tipoff on Tuesday’s home opener against East Providence, the Bishop Hendricken basketball team along with the entire Hawks community gathered to dedicate its gym floor to current coach Jamal Gomes.
Gomes, a 1991 Hendricken graduate, has cemented his place as one of the top high school basketball coaches in the state and throughout the country. Gomes has led Hendricken to 11 state championships during his tenure, which began in the 2000 season.
“It was a very special night for my family and all those players that I had an opportunity to coach over the years. It was one of the most special nights in my entire life. Not so much for the dedication, but it was really a special night because of all the alumni, my family, my team and their families, the Hendricken community that was there to support me. It is something that I will never forget until the day I die,” said Gomes of the ceremony.
Along with his state championship wins, Gomes was also named the Rhode Island Basketball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2006. He was also the 2016 USA Today RI Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.
Gomes graduated from Hendricken in 1991 as a player after guiding the Hawks to a state title in 1989, and went on to become one of Stonehill College’s most decorated players and captains. He would later spend time overseas playing at the professional level.
Gomes is currently a counselor at the school and was inducted into the Hendricken Athletic Hall of Fame back in 2012. Looking back at all he has accomplished at the school, Gomes would have never expected to reach the heights in his career that he has.
“It never crossed my mind and it was never really a goal of mine. I still remember the day that I took the coaching job back in 2000. It was pretty amazing because at the time I didn’t think that I could handle the job, didn’t think I was ready. I had a lot of people in my corner that encouraged me, a lot of people in the Hendricken community, my family. Here we are 19 years later and it has really come full circle,” said Gomes, who in 2000 became the interim coach just two weeks into the season after the previous coach stepped down. “Back in 2000, there I was, a 25-year-old man trying to figure things out. I was teaching (at Hendricken) and the program just landed in my lap. It’s been a blessing, I’m truly grateful for the opportunities and the relationships that I have been able to build and be a part of with hundreds of student-athletes and people in the Hendricken community.”
It was an emotional night for Gomes and his family, and he admits that it was not easy holding in his passion when addressing the crowd which traveled from far and wide to attend the celebration.
“My main goal was to try to not break down because it was so emotional. There were somewhere between 45-55 former players that came out, many old friends that I haven’t seen in a while, and many current friends and family. My goal was to keep it together. We also wanted to win the game, I didn’t want the ceremony to overshadow the game,” said Gomes.
Although Gomes has won championships, coached numerous players to successful careers, and is still leading one of the top programs in the state today, he still has the same love for the sport that he did back in 2000, and is taking the rest of his career one step at a time.
“It’s truly about the relationships and the love we have for each other, the culture that we have built over the year is touching. I’m in a solid place, I’ll make the decision year by year if I can still do it. It’s certainly tougher now that my family and my daughters are growing, but I still love it. I still love teaching, coaching and mentoring, so I’m going to keep doing it until I feel that I can’t do it anymore or I am not having fun, and right now I’m having a blast,” said Gomes. “It’s really probably the greatest honor that a coach can have. To have their name on the floor in which they’ve spent hours and hours coaching, hours and hours playing, countless time throughout the years. It’s a beautiful honor and a privilege, I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.”