Lou Skurcenski was born in Braddock, PA and moved to Zelienople, PA at age 13, where he graduated from Zelienople High School. Lou began playing basketball at an early age, following in the footsteps of his father, Louis Sr. He was a standout basketball player at Zelienople High School and was selected First Team WPIAL. In addition to basketball he lettered in football and track.
Skurcenski received a scholarship to play basketball at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1988. During his sophomore year both Westminster and Grambling College were selected by the US State Department and the AAU to tour South America on a six-week goodwill tour. Lou made a strong connection with the children in South America and also formed a close friendship with future NBA star Willis Reed.
In his senior year Skurcenski was chosen to attend a week-long tryout for the 12-member NAIA team which would represent the 400 colleges of the NAIA in the 1964 Olympic trials. At the end of the week Lou made the team and the next day traveled to New York City to compete in the trials. Despite scoring 22 points in the final game and leading his team to a third-place finish, Lou was not chosen for the Olympic team. But, as fate would have it, the business manager of the Phillips 66ers attended the Olympic trials and invited Skurcenski to try out for the team. Pending graduation, Lou was offered a job as a research chemist and a spot on the 66ers basketball team.
Skurcenski graduated in 1964, was named the Westminster Varsity Athlete of the Year and was also named an All-American that year. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia 76ers but he and his wife, Stephanie, decided that the Phillips 66 route was the best path forward. Lou traveled across the United States for the next three years, playing 50 games each season in a four-and-a-half-month span. He was known as a great team player.
“The big thing about Lou was, as excellent a ball player as he was, he was even a better person. Lou never complained. He always wanted to do what was best for the team – not himself,” 66ers coach Gary Thompson had to say when asked about Skurcenski.
Lou enjoyed giving back to the Bartlesville community through sports, whether coaching Little League, YMCA football, basketball at the Boys and Girls Club or umpiring American Legion baseball. Lou also tutored chemistry students and was an active member at Redeemer Lutheran Church. His favorite memories centered around his family and children. Lou passed away at the age of 55 and is remembered for all that he gave to his family and his community.