Kretschy goes coast to coast: Around the world with the N.Y. Nationals
Kevin Kretschy, right, plays against the Harlem Globetrotters. The FDU alumnus led the FDU Devils in 1998 to their second appearance in the NCAA tournament, before playing professionally with the New York Nationals against the Globetrotters. (Photos courtesy of Kevin Kretschy.)
From shooting hoops in his backyard, to breaking records in the gym, to playing professionally against the Harlem Globetrotters, Kevin Kretschy has devoted his life to basketball. After graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham in 1999, with a degree in business management, he spent four years playing for the New York Nationals (now the Washington Generals), rival to the Harlem Globetrotters.
After he graduated from FDU, Kretschy started playing basketball in a European league and then happened to be in the right place at the right time. The New York Nationals, rival to the Harlem Globetrotters, scouted Kretschy and asked him to play for them. He was on the team from 1999-2003.
Playing for the Nationals was a bit of a different experience for Kretschy. After doing very well with the Devils (he led them to the NCAA tournament in 1998), with the Nationals, “You lose a LOT,” he says.
Since the Globetrotters wanted to have real competition in the games, Kretschy and his teammates spent four hours a day in the gym training. Although the Nationals were not successful in beating the Globetrotters while Kretschy was with them, they always put up a valiant effort. “Playing against the Globetrotters was like playing against an NBA team’s starting five. It was serious competition,” remembers Kretschy.
During his years at the Nationals, Kretschy visited 29 countries, 48 states, and played in almost every NBA arena. “Being able to travel all over the world was definitely the best part of playing for the Nationals. It was such an adrenaline rush playing in front of 45,000 people,” he says.
Right, Kretschy during his days an FDU Devil, playing in the gym at the College at Florham.
Although Kretschy had great success playing with the Nationals and before that, the FDU Devils, he did not start out on top. He started off slowly at FDU and did not see a lot of playing time during his freshman and sophomore seasons (1995-1997). “I just wanted to play,” he says. “But my work ethic going into college was not strong. I had to put in a lot of work to play, let alone be any good.” Kretschy eventually put in the hard work and dedication that was needed to get a starting position on the court.
Roger Kindel, coach of the Devils basketball team from 1977-2005, enjoyed coaching Kretschy. “Kevin was one of the few players that I felt really left FDU with no regrets,” says Kindel. “He met his full potential while playing for me. He listened and absorbed everything the coaches said while he was in the gym. He wasn’t just a two-hour player; he worked extremely hard outside of practice and outside the season to become a better player. He truly made himself into a great player.”
While he was with the Devils, Kretschy was able to help his team achieve some tremendous feats, including participating in the men’s basketball team’s appearance at the 1998 NCAA tournament.
“We were all listening in on the conference call for the list of the teams who got bids to the NCAA tournament, and hearing them say ‘Fairleigh Dickinson University’ was one of the most unbelievable feelings,” says Kretschy.
The NCAA tournament for the Devils was a whirlwind. “Although we were a strong team, we were a little over confident going into the tournament. We got our butts kicked, but it was still an amazing experience,” he says.
Kretschy was inducted into FDU Hall of Fame
for a multitude of achievements, including being named to the Second Team All-Freedom League in both the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 seasons, ranking 13th all-time in points scored for the Devils with 1,172 and for the most free throws made in a season with 132 in the 1998-1999 season.
After working in the business world for about eight years, Kretschy quit his job and went back to graduate school for his teaching certification; he will finish his Master of Arts in Teaching at FDU this semester.
Currently, Kretschy teaches third grade at Warren E. Sooy Elementary School in Hammonton, N.J., and is still involved with basketball. He is the director of Hoop Mountain Mid Atlantic Girls Basketball, which runs girls basketball camps, clinics, showcases and recruiting events throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. He is also in his seventh year coaching girl’s varsity basketball at Hammonton High School.
“I like teaching the game, the way it was taught to me. Watching my players become successful is a great feeling,” he says.