AMHERST – The Amherst basketball community is mourning the passing of one of its most ardent supporters.
Andy Kranack, 77, died early Thursday at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre following a lengthy illness.
“I had the honour of being coached by Andy, coaching with him and playing with him,” said Dwight Jones, who played for the ARHS Vikings from 1966-69. “He was a no nonsense basketball coach. He was very knowledgeable and he knew how to work with young men. He was a great mentor to many young basketball players.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Kranack came to Nova Scotia in 1960 to play at Acadia University, where he earned his bachelor of science and education and was a member of the Axemen team that won the national championship. He was also Acadia’s athlete of the year.
He taught biology at ARHS from 1965-74 and started the Vikettes and Vikings basketball program. The Vikings appeared in seven consecutive provincial finals and won back-to-back titles in 1970 and 1971 when there was just one division and winning a provincial championship meant going up against the larger schools from Halifax.
“He certainly new how to get the most out of his players,” Jones said. “He was also an inspiration to a group of us to form the Vikings alumni awards program. He gave us a sense of community that a lot of us still have.”
Doug Sparks, who for Kranack at ARHS and with him in intermediate basketball, said the coach never let his players get too high or too low.
“He never let our heads get too big,” said Sparks. “Even if we won a game he wouldn’t let us get complacent. He was always preparing us for the next game and he always made sure he got the most out of us.”
Kranack was regarded as a consummate mentor and instilled in his players values like discipline, fair play and athletic excellence.
Bob Howell, who taught at ARHS and was the school’s athletic director for several years before retiring, said Kranack was someone who at times was hard to get to know.
“He was always very consistent with the kids, though, and they all had a lot of respect for him,” Howell said. “He was respected because of his reputation as a winner and he was Mr. Basketball here when basketball was big in Amherst in the late 1960s and 1970s.”
Away from the court, Kranack ran Kranack’s Bike ‘n Sports from 1974 until the late 1990s.
He was also head coach of Mount Allison University’s men’s basketball team from 1981 to 1984 and ran a number of summer basketball camps.
Kranack enjoyed reading, doing crossword puzzles, gardening, watching football, American culture and taking his girls on summer vacations to his hometown.
He is survived by daughters Andrea (Craig) McCormick of Halifax and Amy Kranack (Robert Stewart) of Amherst, two grandchildren, two sisters, a brother and three nieces.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Campbell’s Funeral Home, Amherst. The date for his funeral has yet to be announced.