One by one the photos leave his hands but not before he gives a detailed description of the images that tell the story of his life. Seated recently at a table in one of his favorite local restaurants, Taylor’s in La Canada, Abe Androff is happy to reminisce about why he likes to call himself a lucky man.
Now 83 years old and almost 30 years since he retired as men’s basketball coach at Glendale College in 1978, Androff talks like a proud father of the players he was fortunate to coach and the schools that gave him the opportunity to do what he loved best: teach and coach young people.
He calls himself lucky because how else could he describe a young man who grew up in Boyle Heights, graduated from Lincoln High in East Los Angeles, played sports for fun and ultimately earned a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Southern California.
After high school, Androff served three years in the Air Corp during World War II and served mainly as a flight instructor from 1942 to 1945. He played basketball on several service teams with players who had previously been college standouts and would become future NBA players. He called that experience one of the best of his life.
Androff was not tall or particularly fast but he could shoot the ball well and had a knack for finding the open man. Those skills served him particularly well at USC where his deft passes often made for easy scores for future Hall of Fame legend Bill Sharman, who was a Trojan teammate of his from 1947 to 1949. In 1949, Androff was named the team MVP by head coach Sam Barry.
Following the end of his college career, Androff became a graduate assistant under Sam Barry and helped coach the Trojans junior varsity team until he heard about a job opening at Hoover High in Glendale in 1952 as the boys’ head basketball coach.
He served in that capacity for two years as well as being an assistant football coach until 1954, when he took the job as the men’s basketball coach at Glendale College, replacing Abe Eliot. The transition was made easier for Androff in those years because several players who he coached at Hoover played for him at Glendale College.
In a career that spanned 24 years as the men’s basketball coach at Glendale College as well as stints as the head golf coach for six years and as an assistant coach for the football and baseball teams, Androff found success not in wins and losses but in helping young people achieve their goals.
That’s what makes Abe Androff a very lucky man indeed.