25-Year Veteran Carmel Football Coach Cayea on Hot Seat

Carmel grid Coach and P.E. Teacher Todd Cayea.

Rams’ Brass Must Put Kids First

The gall of the Carmel Central School District Board of Education is beyond processing should they actually carry out this quest to unseat Carmel football Coach Todd Cayea. Unless there’s something I don’t know about, which is entirely possible given the fact it’s a sensitive personnel issue, I’m confused by this board’s stand between 25-year veteran football Coach Cayea and the next generation of student athletes that would benefit from his impact/influence on and off the gridiron. 

Coach Cayea, folks, is officially on the grill, his good name and professional career at stake: This after the recently named the Section 1 Coach of the Year and the National Football League Coach of the Week escorted his Rams to the Section 1 Class AA championship and gave eventual state champ New Rochelle fits last November. 

Now, Coach Cayea is suddenly on the brink of being whacked by the axe of the Carmel Board of Education and Superintendent Andy Irvin at the next BOE meeting on January 21st at the Matthew Paterson Elementary School.  

I’ve steered clear of controversial topics in recent years because I got my own kids and I don’t want the blowback kicking back on them, but I’ll step up when I feel as though good people and the youth of our community are being affected by administrators and board members I don’t necessarily agree with.

Having lived in the Town of Carmel (in the Mahopac School District) for nearly 20 years and having worked closely with Coach Cayea and his staff, I’ll be outraged by the imminent actions of the  membership of the Carmel Board of Education if they pull the trigger on Cayea: Trustees Matt Vanacoro, James Reese, Eric Mittelstadt, Richard Kreps, Tara DeTurris, VP Michelle Yorio and John Cody, President, who did not respond to an email seeking comment.

I’ve known about this impending breakup between the Carmel School District and Coach Cayea for well over two months now, since the inception of the spat between Cayea and former basketball Coach Paul Brennan, which is at the very heart of this matter. We low-keyed it in the hopes the district could find a way to sweep the matter under the rug and move forward for the good of all parties involved, including the many student athletes Cayea has positively impacted. Has there been a handful of unhappy athletes and parents over the years? Of course there has. Coaching kids and managing parents is a bitch of a time nowadays.

In a nutshell: Cayea and Brennan got into a heated confrontation about two months ago over Cayea’s son, a sophomore, and his purported role within the Carmel basketball program. Brennan wanted the younger Cayea to try out for varsity after he worked out with them during much of the off-season. After tryouts, as per district policy, coaches speak with each player to inform them of whether they made the team, or, if they were cut, to let them know, and then advise them, what they need to improve upon in the event they wish to try out the following year.

According to Coach Cayea, Brennan told his son that he wasn’t sure what his role would be on the varsity, but that he could remain on the roster, or, if playing time was a consideration, he could go down to the JV. Cayea was in an adjacent room at the time and didn’t necessarily agree with Brennan’s handling of the situation. So, the two got into it… a boys will be boys discussion between two strong-willed coaches ensued, which happens all across the country. In fact, one is happening right now, somewhere in America, and few are losing their career over it.

The next thing to happen was Brennan resigning the next day; citing personal reasons, just days before the basketball season was set to begin. Cayea was then metaphorically “called down to the principal’s office” where he’s told he needs union representation as the district is going after him for conduct unbecoming a professional: His 25 years of loyal service be damned. 

Now, several members of the aforementioned board want Cayea’s head on a platter for said conduct, or was it because of some personal agenda that goes back a decade or so… I can’t remember which. Whatever it was: I never actually thought it would get to the point where we need to beg these school board members to do the right thing; not just by Coach Cayea, but by the thousands of student athletes to be affected should this board wrongfully determine the outcome. Not to mention the potential cost to the taxpayers of Carmel should the board proceed with the 3020-a termination. This can cost taxpayers upwards of $250,000. With people screaming about high taxes, this is an unnecessary expenditure at a minimum and utterly reprehensible on its face.

So Cayea’s future, the future of his family and the Carmel football family, now lies squarely in the hands of seven board members and one superintendent, who doesn’t appear to have his back. The room will be packed on January 21st, and one can only hope the board members listen to the room, hear the voices of parents and former players, read the letters to the editor in this newspaper and vote with their heads and not the axe of the predisposed. Additionally, students are organizing a protest, I’m told, for Tuesday Jan. 21st at 10:10 a.m. in support of Coach Cayea. Cayea has never kissed an ass in his life, and he won’t do so now, so don’t expect some mea culpa parade up and down Fair St. That said, he does regret the way things went down and would play it differently in hindsight. This was never part of the game plan. But that’s the price we pay to ensure that we maintain some old-school perspective in a coddling, politically correct world gone awry. If you ask me, the world needs more straight-shooters like Coach Cayea to provide some meat-and-potatoes balance. Toughness is a virtue, and he makes sure your kids are getting their daily dose on the gridiron.

Nobody envisioned this scenario playing out quite like this, and if there’s a chance to put this behind us and move forward, let’s do just that: For the sake of the children. I can’t imagine a year in Section 1 football where both New Rochelle football Coach Lou DiRienzo, among the brightest and most successful coaches in NYS history, and Coach Cayea, coming off one of the most successful seasons in Carmel history, are both pushed out by their respective school boards. 

And we wonder why nobody wants to coach anymore.

 

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