This is the second in a series of six articles profiling the Mars Athletic Hall of Fame's Class of 2019.
ADAMS TWP — Rob Carmody's tenure as Mars' varsity boys basketball coach seemed in peril before he ever coached a game.
Hired to take over the program as a 26-year-old in 1998, Carmody realized the work that was ahead of him when he held his first open gym.
“Three guys showed up,” said Carmody, who played at North Catholic and served as that program's junior varsity coach for four years prior to coming to Mars. “I came from a program that had 40 kids at an open gym. It was a very competitive program and I took for granted that guys are going to want to play basketball.”
Following that sparsely-attended open gym, he called his former high school coach, Don Graham.
“I asked him, 'Coach, what do I do?' He told me to find guys at (Mars) who look like athletes and talk them into playing basketball. That's what I did.”
Carmody has been promoting Mars basketball ever since and, judging from his accomplishments, he's done a pretty good job of it.
In 21 seasons of leading the Planets, Carmody has 325 wins and has directed the Planets to seven section titles. Mars has qualified for the WPIAL playoffs 12 straight seasons, winning back-to-back district titles in 2018 and 2019, and made the PIAA tournament eight consecutive times.
Carmody will be inducted into the Mars Athletic Hall of Fame Sept. 6.
“It's a huge honor,” he said. “I know some of the people who have gone in before me and I know what they meant to Mars. I'm very thankful for this.”
Two of Carmody's squads played for a state championship in March 2016 and 2018. He was named the state's Class AAA Boys Coach of the Year after the former.
“That first year we went, we obviously had talent, but I remember a determination that our guys had,” he said. “We lost to Beaver Falls in the (WPIAL) semis, so the team didn't achieve one of its goals, but we were able to regroup.
“The 2018 team had eight seniors and the guys just had a toughness to them. They just kept coming after you. Against Franklin Regional in the WPIAL final, Robby (Carmody, all-state guard) had a temperature of 103. He played, but was a shell of his usual self. People said we couldn't win without Robby, but we found a way.”
Carmody knows the success of any program is not due to the effort and dedication of just one person, or even a few.
“Mars now has a basketball culture and I'm really passionate about what we've built here,” he said. “A lot of credit goes to (Mars athletic director) Scott Heinauer, for having faith to hire me as a young coach and for supporting me, even when we had rough seasons.
“There's so much community support here. I am a demanding coach and we push our kids to get better. The players and their families have accepted that.”
Current assistant coaches Paul Rubish, Bill Cress, Scott Pfeiffer and Kent Bloom have all been with the program for many years.
“They each have a unique perspective on Mars basketball,” said Carmody. “They know where it was and what it took to get here.
“I'm going into the hall of fame, but it's really about the program and all the people who have contributed to it.”
Carmody and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: sons Robby and Michael and daughter Mackenzie.
“I couldn't dream of running a basketball program without their support,” he said.