For years, Royal Oak resident Art Massucci coached out of the spotlight, working with fifth- and sixth-grade boys basketball teams at in the winter and the eighth-grade football teams in the fall.
It was something Massucci, who owned and operated his own electrical services company, loved to do.
The former University of Iowa football player coached young athletes in the nuances and fundamentals of the two sports, pleased with the winning records his teams typically achieved. He was even more focused on helping these boys develop not just into better basketball and football players, but into better young men.
So it came as no surprise that Massucci's two sons, Mike and Marty, followed a similar path.
Mike is in his 16th season as the head varsity coach of the Shrine High Knights, where he played guard at in the mid-1980s. His brother, Marty, has been the junior varsity head coach and an assistant on the varsity team for more than a decade.
And you can bet that Art Massucci and his wife, Mimi, are in the stands for every game, full of personal, family and school pride.
But you usually don't hear about coaches below the varsity high school level. Their dedication is no less than that of coaches at higher levels. Their time commitment is largely the same, especially given that they are truly coaching the fundamentals of the game at the elementary and junior high school levels.
As a fifth-grader at Shrine Elementary, my head coach was Mike, then a senior guard for the Shrine varsity hoops team in 1985.
One year later, I played for his father, Art. Our greatest victory that year was a win over the "Los Angeles Lakers of our league," Our Lady of Refuge in Orchard Lake, a team led by future Brother Rice High star and NBA first-round draft pick Paul Grant.
In the waning seconds of that game, I had severely sprained my ankle and could barely walk off the court. In the comparable euphoria around us, Coach Art helped me off the court, ignoring the congratulations raining down upon him. Because for him, it was always about the kids.
People pay more attention to the win/loss record when you coach varsity basketball, and Mike has succeeded in that regard as well with a 206-117 record after a 4-0 start this season.
Shrine teams win, but they also carry themselves well on and off the court. It goes back to the days when Art took Mike and Marty to Catholic League high school games coached by such legends as former Shrine and University of Detroit head coach Don Sicko.
"Dad took us to those games, and I would watch the coaches more than the players because I knew that's what I wanted to do with my life," said Mike, who also spent two years as a junior varsity head coach at Birmingham Detroit Country Day.
"I wanted to coach basketball in college, but when I came back to Shrine, the community got into my blood, and I wanted to stay here," he said. "I've been blessed ever since."
For years, the basketball court was so narrow that 3-pointers were impossible to even attempt in the corners. During an important game, the number of bodies in the court could be so great that the court could become moist, a potential danger to players given the small size of the court and seating configuration, which put fans seemingly "on top" of the court, adding to humidity.
So Shrine knew that at some point, it had to build a new gymnasium. Art informally led the charge to get the funding for a new fieldhouse at 13 Mile and Woodward by using his network accumulated through the years to reach out to possible donors.
It probably took a bit longer than anyone wanted, but when it was built, Mike's and Marty's teams could line up for 20-footers from the corners.
Coaching is a love that is passed down from a father to his sons. Apparently Knighthood, at least in the Shrine version of the word, is as well. During an era where job security in any industry, including high school coaching, is tenuous at best, the Massuccis have remained at Shrine of their own accord and love for the school. Winning has only been part of the equation.
You want to know why Shrine High School typically has winning teams and great fan and school support? A certain family can take much of the credit.
(Editor's note: Art Massucci, Sr. was the long time Athletic Director and three-sport coach at St. Benedict High in Highland Park, where his two sons played for him and he exhibited the same winning traditions and sportmanship that his son and grandsons have displayed at Shrine.)