Unlike most inner-city youths, the game of basketball gave Arundel High School boys basketball coach Gerald Moore a chance to see the world.
By playing collegiate and professional basketball on four different continents, Moore has come in contact with many prominent blackmale role models. But the four he places above all others either work or live in Anne Arundel County.
Arundel girls basketball coach/teacher Lee Rogers, Arundel JuniorHigh School principal Clifton Prince, North County assistant boys basketball coach Al Pindell and Annapolis Youth Athletic Association president Leslie Stanton are considered by the 32-year-old Washington native as his favorite black male examples.
"Coach Rogers is one ofthe hardest working men I've ever seen," said Moore, who also teaches physical education at Brooklyn Park-Lindale Junior High School. "First of all, he is a professional teacher. Second of all, he really works with his kids. And third, he is very organized.
"Al Pindell isan example of someone who is highly supportive. He's in the community, he's very congenial with everybody, he's very good at public relations and working with people in the community.
"Mr. Prince is a mentor of mine because he's highly successful. He's something I would like to become someday. He has a lot of class, he's very sharp, is well-respected and he's paid his dues.
"Leslie is another example of a hard worker. I don't know how the guy does it, but he just does a great job of working with the youth in the community. He's someone everyone can look up to."
To say that Moore, in his third season as Arundel coach, holds these men in high esteem would be an understatement. The outgoing, vocal court general wonders aloud why black youths often will look at the star athlete or the get-rich-quick drug dealeras an idol rather than these men and others like them.
"It's likemost (black) kids nowadays don't look twice at the average, everydayperson," he said. "They need to start looking at their next-door neighbors, the people across the street, the ones who get up in the morning, get dressed, go to work and come home to take care of their families like he's supposed to.
"Those are the original role models. They're the ones who our parents and the parents before them grew up with. But a lot of them don't see that. They look at the guy who's wearing the gold, the guy who's driving the fancy car, or the guy who's averaging 50 points a game."
This scenario could have been the fate of Moore, who grew up in the Benning Heights area of northeast Washington. But he was fortunate enough to be surrounded by people like his college sweetheart-turned-wife Tamara -- people who cared, people who pushed him.
There was no doubting his skills on the basketballcourt. The 6-foot-7 center/forward averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds during his senior year at National Collegiate Athletic Association school Hampton University, a prestigious, predominately black Division II university in the Tidewater area of Virginia. He helped the Pirates win two consecutive Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournaments and made the All-League and All-Tournament teams in his junior (1981-1982) and senior (1982-1983) years.
"I had been recruited by schools such as the University of Arkansas, and I also visitedKansas. But I realized that these schools wanted me because they hada couple of scholarships to give. But I had good advisers (at Eastern High School) and they steered me toward Hampton," he said.
"I knew I couldn't play at that (NCAA Division I) level; I knew I wasn't that good. In high school, I was considered a garbage player who was good enough to play with a bunch of superstars."
Without letting the glamour of the marquee schools blind his sense of judgment, Moore visited the Hampton campus and was impressed by what he saw.
"When I visited Hampton, the classes were small," he said. "I could see that I could play right away. Everyone there just took to me. I felt it was the right situation for me to grow, and I did.
"Mentally, I grew because I had some hard, hard professors who stayed on me. I'll never forget (faculty member) Mary Bridges. She was the chairman of thedepartment of education and I was one of her pet projects. I mean she was locked into me. I was almost like, 'Man, leave me alone.' But she stayed on me and she really helped me."
In addition to Bridges,Moore credits his parents and Tamara for keeping him on the right path toward a degree in physical education.
"If it wasn't for my parents and my girlfriend, I don't think I ever would have made it out of Hampton. I was into all of the fun things that college had to offer, not the serious things," he said.
His accomplishments at the collegiate level caught the eye of scouts with the Seattle Supersonics, who drafted Moore in the spring of 1983. After being cut during pre-season tryouts, Moore wound up playing in the Continental Basketball Association and in professional leagues overseas.
"Not being able to make the (Seattle) team really woke me up. I wasn't such a superstar anymore," he said. "After I got cut, I went down to Puerto Rico to play with their CBA team that eventually went defunct. Then I played overseas ball in France, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil and Mozambique.
"I had my fun, but then I "I had my fun, but then I started thinking, 'Am I really good enough?' That trip really made megrow up. So I went back to do my student teaching at Hafield High inVirginia. Then I got an assistant coaching job at Friendly High (Prince George's County).
"That's when coaching really hit me. I said to myself, 'Damn, this is all right. I'd sure like to get into teaching P.E. and coaching.' I can say that I'm one of the few players who could walk away from the game and just say goodbye. I'm very happy with what I do. This is my calling."