UTC Coach Jim Foster Has His Philly Hoagie and a Win Streak

UTC Women Host Ga. Southern Tonight - 7 p.m.

Saturday, January 4, 2014 - by B.B. Branton

When the Chattanooga women’s basketball team open the second half of the season tonight at McKenzie Arena – 7 p.m. vs. Georgia Southern (radio broadcast on ESPN The Zone 105.1 FM) - coach Jim Foster has three things about which to smile.

A 2-0 record in the Southern Conference (10-3 overall), the nation’s second longest home court win streak (30 … Baylor Univ. is first with 67) and an authentic Philadelphia Hoagie.

While the UTC players – all from the South – have built the long win streak on talent, hard work and probably some ham, grits and biscuits and gravy, Foster’s Hoagie is All-Philly.

“Many deli’s and restaurants in this area have hoagies and Philly cheesesteaks on the menu, but without that bread from Philadelphia they are just substitutes for the real thing,” Foster said.

But thanks to the Novenson family on Lookout Mountain, coach Foster has found the authentic sandwich.

With Philly Hoagie’s in hand earlier this week (New Year’s Eve morning), pastor Joe Novenson and the women’s basketball hall of fame coach met with a smile and a handshake as a common bond was formed of home city and sandwich.

It's All About the Bread and the Water: “But it can’t be just any hoagie sandwich,” said the Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church senior pastor who grew up in Upper Darby (Drexel Hills), in south Philadelphia. “It must be made with authentic amoroso bread from Philadelphia. And there is something about the Philadelphia water that adds to it as well”

According to pastor Novenson, the family has the amoroso bread flown in around Thanksgiving, then frozen until the Hoagie’s are made on New Year’s Eve, ready for the Philly Feast as the clock strikes midnight and a new year.

“My dear 91-year-old mother-in-law makes authentic Hoagie sandwiches every New Year’s Eve for about 30 members of our family and we ring in each New Year at midnight with a Hoagie,” stated Novenson who has been the Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church senior pastor since 1996.

“This New Year’s family tradition goes back at least 37 years,” said pastor Novenson who married his high school sweetheart, Barb, (Upper Darby Senior High School) and have three children and three grandchildren.

The Novenson Hoagie has more ingredients – including lettuce, tomato, green and yellow peppers, salami, ham, prosciuto, two cheeses, oil and vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper – than Foster has defensive sets off a made basket.

And those from “Philly” are as passionate about their “authentic amoroso bread” as they are their sports teams.

“If the team has Philadelphia on the front of the jersey then I’m a fan,” said UTC women’s basketball coach Jim Foster with a smile who lists Cheltenham, Pa. as his hometown and attended Cardinal Dougherty High School announces the city’s beloved pro teams quicker than one can spell h-o-a-g-i-e. “Flyers (hockey), 76ers (basketball), Eagles (football), Phillies (baseball).”

The Palestra and American Bandstand: While the Novenson’s probably shared hoagies on a few dates in the 1960s at a corner malt shop or maybe legendary deli’s Pats or Gino’s, Foster’s first date with his wife-to-be Donna was a doubleheader basketball game in 1971 at the fabled Palestra Arena on the U. of Pennsylvania campus where legendary Saturday afternoon college games, include match-ups of the Big Five – LaSalle, Pennsylvania, St. Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

And while Foster grew up watching with intensity the greats of the Palestra hardwood and can rattle off names of coaching legends who have made their mark on the sport in the City of Brotherly Love including Rollie Massmino (Villanova), John Chaney (Temple) and Chuck Daly (Penn. U.) – pastor Novenson, who also knows his church hymns, but also can recite chapter and verse of the Doo-Wop greats, many of whom had their start in Philadelphia.

To say he knew several up close and personal is an understatement as his father, also named Joe Novenson, worked closely with rock and roll hall of fame dejay Dick Clark as the first producer of American Bandstand when the daily afternoon music show had its first national broadcast on Aug.5, 1957.

“My dad had strict rules about the way the kids dressed and acted and had to keep their grades up so as to dance on national television each afternoon,” pastor Novenson stated.

South Philly High School alums and American Bandstand legends included Chubby Checker (No.1 The Twist, The Pony), Fabian (Turn Me Loose, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter) and Frankie Avalon (Dinah, No.1 Venus)

Other greats to make a name for themselves on American Bandstand, included Danny and the Juniors (No.1 At the Hop), the Diamonds (No.2 Little Darlin’), The Crystals (No.1 He’s a Rebel, Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me), The Ronettes (No.2 Be My Baby, Grammy Award for Walkin’ in the Rain) and Bobby Rydell (No.4 Forget Him, No.2 Wild One, No.4 Volare).

Basketball Hall of Fame: While pastor Novenson has rubbed elbows with teen idols now in the music hall of fame, coach Foster has made sure his players over the years have stayed in tune long enough to win gold medals in international competitions, advanced to the NCAA Final Four at Vanderbilt and the NCAA Sweet 16 at Ohio State and helped him gain entrance into the women’s college basketball hall of fame in 2013.

So whether its hoagies, hoops or rock-n-roll, Novenson and Foster are in agreement that there is no substitute for authentic ingredients to make the real thing.


contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net

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