Tom Troxell was positive that Steve Hurley was playing a joke on him.
There could be no other explanation for Hurley excusing himself from a football practice to go and coach the Willow Grove Bears cheerleading team.
“He says, ‘I won’t be able to hang out. I’ve got to go down and coach the cheerleaders' ” Troxell, Willow Grove Bears Football Club president said of Hurley. “There’s not many guys that could pull that off. I couldn’t pull that off.”
But Hurley, a father of five daughters and an Upper Moreland resident committed to his community, has been a favorite among the organization’s cheer coaches since starting six seasons ago.
“I would be thrilled if she could stay down there and cheer for Steve,” Cristine Rizzo said of her 8-year-old daughter, who has since moved from the 5- to 7-year-old squad that Hurley coaches to the next level.
The ever-smiling Hurley, who claps, chants and moves in unison with his squad of 20 cheerleaders during practice, never seems to miss a beat. But, he attributes his success as a cheer coach more to the girls than himself.
“I think the girls more coach me than I coach the girls,” Hurley said.
During the Willow Grove Bears’ training camp, which continues through the end of August, Hurley spends weeknights coaching the cheerleaders for the first hour and the following hour coaching the last half of the two-hour football practice.
“Then I race back for work,” said Hurley, who is a cook and general manager of Hurley’s American Grille, a Horsham restaurant recently featured on “Restaurant Impossible. “I would rather volunteer and coach kids then work any day.”
Ryan Moore, Willow Grove Bears head football coach for the 10- to 11-year-old team, said Hurley is always willing to do “whatever the club needs him to do.”
“He’s got a very outgoing personality,” Moore said. “He makes it fun for everybody.”
Even the opposing teams, according to Heather Fagan, a co-coach for the club’s senior competition squad.
“People on the other side were like, ‘why’s that guy coaching?’ ” Fagan said.
The answer, Troxell said, is because the club was short on volunteers.
“He stepped in because there was no one to do it,” Troxell said.
That may be the case, but seeing Hurley in action makes it apparent that he enjoys his coaching role.
“I never yell,” the laid-back Hurley said. “For me, it’s about them having fun. They don’t need a grown man yelling at them that’s not their father.”