Direct Rays: Now is the Time to Stand up for Greater Good… Our Kids

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Once upon a time, there were scores of qualified educators/teachers serving as trusted varsity and jayvee athletic coaches, who worked within the confines of their own school districts to recruit athletes into their programs and serve the greater good of their respective school districts; happily ever after.

Ray Gallagher
Ray Gallagher

This happened all across the Section 1 landscape, and the key to their success was oftentimes a strong administration that stood up to malcontents and ne’er-do-wells, but something happened near the turn of the century and administrators started backing down and coaches, who actually taught within the district, began dropping like flies, replaced by non-district rookies in some cases.

Some superintendents and athletic directors lost their will to fight the bellyaching, so the squeaky wheel would often get the grease, and veteran coaches were often fired or forced to resign in an effort to retain their primary teaching jobs in order to provide for their families. In some cases, the pros of coaching high school sports are simply outweighed by the cons without the full support of a stout administration.

When school districts do this type of stuff in mid-season, the wheels can come off the wagons; even a historical basketball season can come unglued by a weakened or compromised administration that kowtows to the nit-pickers.

Somehow, Putnam Valley High managed to upstage contemptible Lance Armstrong and dim-of-wit Manti Te’o last week (in PV only that is) by accepting the coerced resignation of JV basketball Coach Mike Douma, who was one of many coaches at PV High who does not teach within the district. While its state-ranked varsity basketball program remains a legitimate contender for a Section 1 championship for the first time ever, the boat is now being rocked by a handful of junior varsity malcontents overly concerned with playing time issues and alleged favoritism stemming from claims of nepotism. In mid-season, these are the hurtful things that can unhinge the doors and prevent an otherwise magical season from occurring if the players let it affect them. With any luck, these resilient kids can pull through these unfortunate circumstances and continue to provide the PV community with an unprecedented, whirlwind season and a run at the County Center.

You know, just because some of our predecessors did things off kilter in PV; doesn’t mean progressive, rational thinking is not an option for the next body of living beings. There’s a reason why educators in some school districts are fearful of jeopardizing their futures by coaching at the modified, JV and varsity levels, and they are sometimes on display at PV High where some excellent, innovative coaches refuse to get involved on account of what they deem to be a weakened administration that often caves to the wayward ways of the disgruntled. I’m not making this stuff up, so please; don’t kill the guy who tells it like it is.

Class B Putnam Valley players, who had a trying week off the court, rush to congratulate Tiger junior Kevin Fitzsimmons after his game-winning shot beat the buzzer in overtime during a 56-55 win over host Class AA Carmel last Monday. Photo by Ray Gallagher
Class B Putnam Valley players, who had a trying week off the court, rush to congratulate Tiger junior Kevin Fitzsimmons after his game-winning shot beat the buzzer in overtime during a 56-55 win over host Class AA Carmel last Monday. Photo by Ray Gallagher

Look, I’m not saying people don’t have the right to complain about playing time and alleged nepotism, if indeed that is factual and 100% justified; I’m simply wondering why some administrators are fearful of telling these mid-season malcontents; “Yeah, we’ve heard your concerns and while you may feel they’re justified we don’t think you represent the greater good right now for the kids on the team. We’ll look into it after the season has concluded, but for now; don’t let the door hit you in the rear on your way out.”

Instead, we’ve got far too many administrators in this neck of the woods that cave in and negatively affect the dynamics and morale of a team on a roll. Folks need to understand that every player on the team has their roles during the course of the season (stars, grunts, reserves, etc.) and sometimes the role we figured our li’l Johnny would have isn’t necessarily the one the coach has in mind for him/her. It’s life; and sometimes our children understand the pecking order better than their parents do…

I don’t know a whole lot about Section 1 wrestling these days; mostly because I can’t spread myself much thinner than I already do between boys/girls’ hoops and ice hockey, but I think I know enough to know that Yorktown High Coach John Tornambe deserves serious consideration for Coach of the Year honors.

What that cat has done with a one-time fledgling wrestling program is nothing short of amazing. You know, sometimes it takes five years or so to build a winning program, which is why I get so ticked off at the turnover rate irritable people force upon school administrators. But Tornambe took over a veritable doormat of a wrestling program some five years or so ago and took them to top five in Section 1 last year with a pair of sectional champions in 170-pounder Steve Sabella and heavyweight David Varian. The 2013 season has been quite fruitful with Joe Mastro, Kyle Santucci, Jimmy Kashian, Tom Murray, Varian and Sabella leading the way toward a top three finish. Tornambe has been the difference; that much I know…

In my Fantasy Football chat room on RTSports, on September 10th RayG3 wrote: 49ers vs. Ravens in Supe XLVII. A regular Ramonstradamus, I am. And now we’ll have to prepare ourselves for 14 days’ worth of Brother Harbaugh stories as we await Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. It is a pretty remarkable feat for two brothers – Jim and John — to find themselves coaching head-to-head against one another on the world’s biggest stage. Heck, we’ll know which side they parted their hair on and who had more cavities as youngsters before all is said and done. Suck it up, people, they deserve the fanfare. Brothers haven’t managed against each other in a professional sport since Yonkers-born George and Harry Wright did so in 1879 (baseball)…

Arrogant Bill Belichick is an NFL football coach, possibly the best coach in the history of sport. He’s not here for our entertainment purposes, so get over the fact that he outfits like a well-dressed hobo and is as glib as glib can be during his press conferences. In his mind; the less we know the better. Deal with it…

Well, the NY Rangers’ 0-2 start is certainly something to get down about, considering the lockout-shortened season and the sprint to the playoffs and all, but their first two opponents – the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins – are two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. That said, I saw no cohesion and very few clean, tape-to-tape breakouts, plus some sub-par goaltending from 2012 Vezina Trophy winner King Henrik Lundqvist. It’ll be about a month before I start working my way toward the panic button if this keeps up. But the NY Jets have shown us enough about rock-bottom to know we’ve got to show some patience before we panic.


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