Aside from being one of the winningest head coaches at Georgia Tech, Josh Pastner is a humble man. His voicemail message alone shows his appreciation for life: “Dear G-d. I woke up. I am healthy. I am alive. Thank you.”
Pastner was equally modest when the AJT asked the Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball coach for his reaction to being inducted in the Jewish Sports Heritage Association’s Class of 2019. He said that maybe the selection committee mixed up his name with someone else’s “way more deserving than I am.”
“It is an unbelievable honor and obviously a privilege,” he said. “To be considered and to be put in for it, I am sincerely grateful for the honor.”
Pastner, a head coach for 10 years, is starting his third year at Georgia Tech. He was chosen among five other athletic achievers selected for the JSHA honor this summer. They will be inducted next year in New York. JSHA is a not-for-profit organization that educates the public about the role Jewish men and women have played, and continue to play, in the world of sports.
In addition to being on a team that won a national championship, JSHA noted his overall record: tied as the 10th winningest head coach for first seven seasons in Memphis Tigers basketball history, and the second-winningest active coach under the age of 40 in NCAA Division 1
Among the other winners is an MLB relief pitcher who helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series and a world kickboxing champion who was Israel’s duathlon champion and won the women’s solo category of the Race Across America.
Pastner said he tries to stay involved in the Jewish community and just returned from speaking to 1,600 athletes at the Maccabi Games in Orange County, Calif.
He is looking forward to the Yellow Jackets basketball season starting Aug. 20. “We lost Josh Okogie to the NBA draft, which really hurts, but is great for the future.” He spoke about rebuilding the team when he took over as head coach three years ago, but how well the team is playing now.
Alan Freedman, JSHA founder and director, said he has followed Pastner’s career from Memphis to Atlanta. Pastner was considered last year for the induction, but wasn’t able to attend the awards ceremony, a qualification for receiving the honor, said Freedman, who is also founder and director of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.