IRVINGTON, NJ – Irvington High School boys basketball head coach Elias Brantley cares a lot about his team.
Brantley recognizes the importance of having nice clothes for his players. That’s why he spent his own money to fulfill this need.
“Out of his own pocket, Brantley bought screen printing equipment so he could provide ‘cool’ clothes to his players that don’t have the money to buy their own desirable apparel,” said IHS Athletic Director Dr. John Taylor. “He creates apparel using the Irvington High School logo, and adds phrases to the apparel like #family or #Represent. He then sells the apparel as a fundraiser to Irvington faculty and community members at sporting events. He then uses his profits, and buys more apparel and screen printing vinyl to design and create more clothes that he gives away to his players.”
Brantley doesn’t profit off this side screen printing business, emphasized Taylor. “He only does it so he can provide his players with new clothes they feel confident in wearing,” said Taylor.
Because of his selflessness, Taylor nominated Brantley for the LifeChanger Award by The National Life Group.
The award goes to educators who go above and beyond for their students. Some of their honorees have been featured on various media outlets, including the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Taylor learned that Brantley was one of the winners of the award.
On Tuesday, March 19, IHS held a surprise ceremony for Brantley.
“The National Life folks came into IHS today to present Elias with an award and a check for $3,000 for all of the work he has done on behalf of his students,” said Taylor in an email to The Irvington Herald. “IHS will also receive a $3,000 check.”
In addition to his apparel printing project, Brantley also conducts study hall sessions with his players throughout the year. “On non-game days during the winter, he volunteers his time to hold study hall from 3-5 p.m., and then practices from 5-7 p.m.,” Taylor noted. “He is in constant communication with me and the guidance department, and does everything he can to ensure the academic eligibility of his players.”
National Life was impressed by Brantley’s work, and informed Taylor that Brantley’s noteworthy, selfless act deserved recognition and praise.
Their fundraiser representatives also wanted to make a generous donation to help Brantley continue for him to provide apparel to students, Taylor said.
“Now Elias had no idea this is happening,” added Taylor of the surprise ceremony, noting that Brantley also is the head coach of the new IHS boys volleyball program this spring. “The rest of the IHS staff acted like they were in a faculty meeting that he is excused from. When everyone was ready, I got Elias and his players and made them go to the auditorium for the surprise. His fiancee was aware and showed up with his entire family for the surprise.”
Brantley, a 2006 IHS graduate, guided the Blue Knights to a stellar season this winter in his sixth year at the helm. IHS started 10-0 this season. The team also was 15-2 through 17 games.
IHS was seeded No. 2 in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 state tournament. Though they fell to Summit in the quarterfinals, the Blue Knights finished with an impressive 21-6 record. Brantley succeeded Eugene Robinson, his former IHS head coach and another IHS graduate, Class of 1993. Robinson also completed his sixth year as the head coach at nearby Columbia HS.
Taylor is extremely proud of Brantley.
“He’s really great. I’m honestly glad I get to work with him each day. There’s no other coach I rather have.”
Photos courtesy of IHS Athletic Director Dr. John Taylor