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Greeley Lax Coach Fired as Team, Supporters Rally in Support

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Horace Greeley High School lacrosse coach Brian Zusi, pictured with some of his players during a game earlier this season, was terminated by the Chappaqua Board of Education last week. No reason was given for his firing. Andy Jacobs photo

Members of the Horace Greeley High School boys’ varsity lacrosse team vigorously defended their coach during last week’s Chappaqua Board of Education meeting moments before he was removed from his post by the board.

Coach Brian Zusi was officially relieved of his duties on Apr. 6 without an explanation from district officials.

The resolution that appeared on the board’s agenda to end Zusi’s coaching tenure for the school’s lacrosse team encouraged a majority of the squad to attend the meeting and a couple of his players to speak during the public comments in hopes of convincing officials to change their minds.

Senior defenseman Vincent Santelia said that having Zusi removed as coach mid-season was “beyond unfair.”

“Our coach is a role model for each and every one of us,” Santelia said. “I’ve been with him for four years. He’s an excellent person and he emphasizes character and he really does make us better men, and it’s heartbreaking to have him taken away from us when I believe he’s been here for five years.”

Rich Brail, the father of a Greeley lacrosse player who was speaking on behalf of the Greeley Lacrosse Association, the team’s parent booster organization, questioned why the move was being done so hastily and in the middle of the season.

He said the public and the community members associated with the team should be provided with some explanation for the sudden decision and suggested that due process may have been skirted.

“We ask that you not act on this resolution tonight and do further fact-finding and get additional input from the players most importantly, but anyone else who may have been an observer at any of these games or other activities,” Brail said.

After the vote, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Ackerman did not provide any details citing it as a personnel issue.

“Personnel matters need to remain private,” Ackerman said.

Examiner Sports covered Zusi’s final game on Apr. 2 at Putnam Valley, which was attended by Ackerman, a somewhat unusual move for a district superintendent to attend a mid-season lacrosse road game. Examiner sports staff noted that it was a chippy contest that also included accusations of anti-Semitic comments being thrown around, which was later deemed to be unfounded after an investigation by both schools.

Greeley goalie Toby Moskow said at last week’s meeting that he and his teammates were disappointed that Zusi was being let go and how many team members improved personally under his stewardship.

“Coach Zusi always emphasizes how the small details matter and I completely agree with him,” Moskow said. “He’s taught us many life lessons.”

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