Kyle Conrad, a Gov. Mifflin grad and the Mustangs’ boys basketball coach, passed away Monday after a long fight with esophageal cancer.
Conrad was first diagnosed in March 2019, but continued coaching throughout the entirety of his illness.
“People loved Kyle; they loved what he stood for,” said David Argentati, Gov. Mifflin’s Director of Student Services and Conrad’s high school coach. “The passion I saw from him as a player is what carried through to Kyle as the coach, and was what he wanted. He wanted people to know he wanted to teach basketball and he wanted kids to learn basketball.”
As a player, Conrad was a 1,000-point scorer for Mifflin. He graduated in 2001, then played at Elizabethtown College from 2001-05. He became the sixth best 3-point shooter in Blue Jays’ history with 138.
The Blue Jays reached the NCAA Division III in 2002, won three straight Commonwealth Conference championships and had a record of 65-21 with Conrad on the team. He was named to the Commonwealth first-team in 2004 and 2005.
“From a coaching standpoint he was a coach’s dream,” Argentati said. “His basketball IQ was through the roof. He was a student of the game. He was a tremendous teammate, and you know how he carried himself on the court was exactly how he carried himself off the court; just an outstanding kid.
“And we ended up working on the local Sixers camps together. He worked my camps and he became a friend. That’s what I’m mourning now: a friend.”
Conrad began his coaching career shortly after graduating from Elizabethtown when he coached the Gov. Mifflin JV team during the 2005-06 season. He coached at Brandywine Heights for a number of years, according to Gov. Mifflin athletic director Pat Tulley, before returning to his alma mater to coach the Mustangs’ JV team for the 2014-15 season.
“Kyle was a great person and cared a lot about the players,” Tulley said. “His players certainly looked to him as a mentor. That’s what you want out of a coach; it’s who you want a coach to be. That has nothing to do with basketball per se, it’s just Kyle as a person.”
Conrad took over as head coach for the 2018-19 season. He persevered through the trials that came with his diagnosis and never left the bench, leading Gov. Mifflin to a 46-45 record during his four seasons.
“He knew what he was facing being diagnosed with cancer, yet he still wanted to coach,” Tulley said. “I’m sure he coached through a lot of situations where a lot of times he was conscious that he probably wasn’t feeling the best, but he was still out there doing what he loved to do. His passion was coaching basketball and kids.”
Conrad led the Mustangs to a Berks runner-up finish in 2020, as well as an appearance in the District 3 Class 6A playoffs, where Mifflin defeated Warwick 77-70 in double overtime in an opening-round game.
That same season, the Mustangs defeated Reading High 55-48 for their first win over the Red Knights in 37 games.
As a player Conrad scored 18 points to lead Mifflin to a 55-48 win over Reading High in 2001.
“He upset Reading at Reading,” Argentati said. “It was because of him that we also beat Reading at the Geigle (in 2001). It’s certainly one of my fondest basketball memories, but I don’t even know how important basketball is at this point.”
As Tulley and Argentati suggest, Conrad’s passion for basketball could perhaps only be outdone by the love he had for his players.
Several of them took to Twitter on Monday to share their condolences and talk about Conrad’s impact and legacy.
“Thank you for everything throughout my basketball career,” said Matt Gehris, a 2021 Mifflin grad, on Twitter. “My friends and I looked up to you as another father figure and you were always there when we needed you, one of the most caring people I know. Rest Easy Coach Conrad.”
Matt Ziegler, a Brandywine Heights grad who, like Conrad, also played basketball at Elizabethtown College, echoed Gehris’ sentiments as he said he was thankful to have been coached by Conrad.
“Incredibly thankful to have been coached by Coach Conrad,” Ziegler said on Twitter. “He made an amazing impact in the berks county community and beyond. Praying for his family and friends. Thanks for everything coach.”
Conrad is survived by his wife, Lauren, and two sons, Carson and Logan.
“He was a terrific role model to kids,” Tulley said. “Obviously a very good basketball coach, but that aside and more importantly, he was a terrific role model. That’s who he was.”
Source: Berkshire mont