CEDAR RAPIDS — For most, the love of family is the greatest blessing.
That’s certainly true for Xavier girls’ basketball coach Tom Lilly.
Lilly’s brother-in-law, Richard Curphey, has remained Xavier’s superfan for more than 30 years.
“I started attending Regis girls’ basketball games during the 1985-1986 school year, when Coach Lilly became the head coach,” Curphey said. “It started out as something to do in the winter and to show support for Coach Lilly, but now it has continued for over 30 seasons and is a part of my routine.”
The support Lilly has received does not go unnoticed.
“It means a great deal to me,” Lilly said. “They have always had words of encouragement after every game, win or lose.”
Curphey’s job takes up a lot of time, but it does not hinder him from attending games.
“I make time to go to all the games by adjusting my work schedule,” Curphey said. “As the administrator of a care center, I have to maintain flexible hours, so I can usually adjust my schedule as needed. There have only been a couple of conflicts over the years, but making my schedule work is definitely worth the effort.”
Curphey believes there is more to team sports than learning and developing skills.
“I participated in sports during high school and college and have always enjoyed them,” Curphey said. “There are life skills that are embedded into team sports like basketball, such as learning a strong, united team is greater than individual success, and hard work does pay off. Those skills transfer to success in life.
“It is a joy to see so many former players return to games and see how confident and successful adults they are.”
Curphey does not attend the games alone. His wife, Lilly’s sister Kathy Curphey, joins Richard to show her support, as well.
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“My sister, mom and dad were all great supporters of Regis girls’ basketball when I started,” Lilly said. “They have followed my career the whole time, and now Richard has been one of our biggest fans.”
To Lilly, Curphey is just an overall good person.
“He will drive to Des Moines for work and then head back that night and drive to Dubuque or Waterloo for a game,” Lilly said. “Richard is extremely kindhearted and has always been that way. He is extremely reliable and sometimes, with people like that, you take them for granted. I hope I never do that with him or Kathy because they are very special to me.”
The Saints play at Washington on Thursday, starting at 7:30 p.m.