Back in 1973, Rich Hernandez had an important decision to make. After graduating from Adelphi Academy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, he accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Dowling. However, during that summer, Division I LaSalle University offered him a scholarship. Rich chose to honor his commitment to Dowling. That sense of loyalty, along with talent and dedication, helped Rich achieve much success, both during his collegiate career and since.
Joe Maniaci, an assistant to Dowling head coach Dick Berg, had heavily recruited Rich. Rich came to a Dowling playoff game, met some of the players and felt Dowling was the place for him. It certainly turned out well, as Rich finished his career as one of the finest basketball players in Dowling history.
Rich played both point guard and shooting guard, and scored 1,301 points in his career. During his four-years, he started 135 consecutive games. The team’s record during that span was 111-24. He helped lead Dowling to four consecutive Central Atlantic Conference Championships and two appearances in the NAIA national playoffs. During Rich’s career at Dowling, the team was always ranked among the top five defensive teams in the nation among NAIA schools.
After graduating in 1977 with a degree in elementary education, Rich got a job teaching 8th grade in Shoreham-Wading River. He began his coaching career with the 7th-grade team there. In 1979, he came back to Dowling College to work with Tony Nese in HEOP doing counseling work and coaching the Dowling JV basketball team along with current head coach Mike Voyack. In 1981, Rich moved to Puerto Rico to play basketball and pursue his dream of making the Puerto Rican National Team. His dream was realized later that year when he made the team.
He returned to Long Island in 1985 and worked in the air freight industry. Last year, Rich became a partner in CTS Air Freight in Queens. Rich is active in the Long Island Latin community, and was recently featured in Latin Long Island Magazine.
Rich and his wife, Julie, have been married since 1977, and have two children – Jason and Nicole. Rich’s involvement in coaching helped Jason to a standout career at Hofstra. Rich also worked with Nicole’s AAU team, the Long Island Sound. Nicole is currently attending Union College. Rich continues to do individual basketball instruction and has written a primer for youth coaches, which was published in English and Spanish.
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