COHOES — After Joe Loudis had established himself as a star athlete in Schenectady, and before he led Mechanicville basketball teams to a handful state title bids, he was at Cohoes leading another hoop team to great success.
That’s where Loudis and his wife Nancy brought up their three boys, where he taught business at the high school for 35 years, and where one of Section 2’s great coaching careers began and soon blossomed in a two-decade-plus run.
“In his heart, he always had a special place for Cohoes,” said Eric Loudis, whose father died in July of 2020 at the age of 78 with an athletic resume full of accomplishments and honors. “To get recognition where he spent two-thirds of his life is nice to see.”
The recently refurbished basketball court at Greenbriar Park in Cohoes, where Eric and his brothers Joey and Scott once played, was dedicated in their dad’s name Wednesday. The ceremony, just a couple blocks from where Nancy still resides, included proclamations from the New York State Assembly and the city of Cohoes citing her husband’s efforts as a teacher, coach, mentor, athlete and community leader.
“Last year, when we decided to dedicate the court, we thought, ‘Who is the first person you think about with Cohoes basketball?’,” Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler said. “Without a blink, it was Joe Loudis.”
The Mont Pleasant and University at Albany graduate coached varsity basketball for 31 years, and also spent a quarter of a decade as the Colonial Council chairman and a member of the Section 2 basketball committee. He coached baseball, as well, at Cohoes.
“This is a great honor, and deservingly so,” Nancy Loudis said after the court was officially named Joe Loudis Basketball Court. “I’m glad the city and the mayor and everyone who had a part of it did it for him.”
Joe Loudis joined the Cohoes basketball staff in 1965 and, after two years as a lower-level coach, he began a 21-year run with the varsity that included nearly 300 of his 400-plus career wins, seven Colonial Council championships and the 1973 Section 2 Class B title.
“He was more concerned with kids being good people, and he instilled that,” Nancy Loudis said. “Make sure you did your homework. Family comes first. Those kinds of things.”
“I believe he was very influential to every individual and their families,” said Dan Szandyba, a 1971 Cohoes graduate and member of Loudis’ first Colonial Council title-winning team. “I remember him calling the players on Friday night before games the next day to make sure we were in.”
On the court, Joe Loudis was best known for the 3-2 zone defense he had his players employ.
“I went to clinics, picked things up here and there, and made some things up myself,” Loudis had said of his unique defensive scheme. “We try to take away the other team’s strength and take advantage of weaknesses. We try to block all of the passing lanes and create turnovers. We try to play offense on defense.”
“At first, he was criticized for it [the 3-2 zone], but he made it work,” said Moe Mroczkowski, another 1971 Cohoes grad who played for Loudis. “We didn’t do the same thing. We did different things with it depending on the opponent, and everyone we played had a hard time.”
Joe Loudis coached at Mechanicville from 1993-96, 2001-04 and 2005-09, with three of his teams securing Section 2 and state regional championships. His editions in 1996 and 2008 made Class C state title game appearances, and his 1995 group lost in the Class C state semifinals.
“He just loved it,” Nancy Loudis said. “He coached in summer leagues and at camps. He couldn’t wait until that first Monday.”
Joe Loudis was an assistant coach when Eric Loudis led the Schenectady varsity boys’ basketball team several years ago, and he continued in that capacity when his son went to lead the Lansingburgh varsity.
Joe Loudis was an outstanding baseball player at Mont Pleasant, and played a significant role as a senior on the Red Raiders’ undefeated team in 1960. Loudis also lettered in basketball, tennis and cross country while at Mont Pleasant, and was an excellent bowler and softball player.
@dgazette Schenectady-native player, Cohoes coach Joe Loudis honored as Cohoes park basketball court named for him – 5/24/23 – Daily Gazette
As an 11 and 12 year old, he played second base and led off for Schenectady teams that were the 1953 and 1954 Little League World Series runner-up and champion, respectively.
“Last week, NFL legend Jim Brown passed away. I mention him in the same breath as another all-time great athlete, Jim Thorpe,” Keeler said. “I bring this up because Joe Loudis was with them at the local level. He was right up there.”
Joe Loudis played basketball at Marshall University briefly and later at the University at Albany, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.
“Everything he did, he was really good at,” Bob Pezzano, chairman of the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame, had said of Loudis. “He was the No. 1 tennis player on his team and a fast runner, and he did very well in baseball and basketball.”
Not only was Joe Loudis a 2008 individual inductee into the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame based on his coaching and multi-sport playing, but his Little League World Series title team and undefeated Mont Pleasant baseball team were honored at past ceremonies, too. He is also a member of the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame and the Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame.
Cohoes also had baseball and girls’ lacrosse teams play for Section 2 championships Wednesday.
“Big doings in Cohoes sports today,” said Ed Krajewski, the Cohoes rec department head and a 1996 Mechanicville grad who played for Joe Loudis. “It starts with this.”
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