Mahopac Still Hitting High Notes as Fall Turns to Winter

We are part of The Trust Project
Mahopac A.D. Frank Miele and Brewster A.D. Lance Pliego

I’m just looking at the tea leaves here and deciphering what I see. There is no official confirmation regarding Mahopac High A.D. Frank Miele’s retirement at the conclusion of the school year, but if this is indeed Miele’s swan song as both and educator and Athletic Director for the blue and gold, he could be leaving on a high note if this athletic senior class can keep this current roll going.

Mahopac is having itself one swank year so far. The Indians drew large crowds for their state-ranked (No.16) Section 1 Class AA runner-up football program in the fall, and its upstart undefeated boy’s basketball team (5-0) is doing much the same while securing a No.22 NYS Class AA ranking.

Mahopac has also attained prime-time results across the board in sports like field hockey and boy’s soccer, which posted a historical campaign by reaching the Class AA Final Four, and wrestling, which seems to have its swag back on this winter. You remember how good the Indians were when they were winning six Section 1 titles in seven years through 2007 under four different coaches. Well, Coach Juan Garcia’s stallions, including Steve “Pags” Pagliuca, Tom Viento, Andy Scopino, Nick Bocchino and others are in it to win it again, doing so with a current No.12 NYS rank.

“No disrespect to Fox Lane but we think we’re the top team… we’re the top,” repeated Indian boss Juan Torres. “I’m not saying we’re going to better than them at the end of the year, but we’re prepared to be the best.”

Heck, even the girl’s hoops program has turned the corner with gusto, starting out 4-0 after going 0-18 last winter. Miele’s zipping around from one event to the next, loose as a goose… just loving life all too much for me to believe this isn’t the end of an entertaining era. That scowl, that infamous gaze that had drawn reverent fear for three-plus decades, is almost an incessant beam these days… like a schoolgirl with a sweetheart crush.

I had a coincidental tail on ol’ Frank Miele last week. Seen him hobnobbing with Brewster A.D. Lance Pliego as Torres’ Indians were burning up the mats by winning five of six matches from 130 pounds to 160 and eight out of the 10 classes contested between 130 and 285 where defending Section 1 champion Scopino put an exclamation point on the match with a 12-second pin in a 41-25 win.

There’s Miele, the 1967 Indian grad, sitting in the front row, full of self-contentment… bleeding blue and gold all over the mat like he’s done since the Kennedy’s ran the country.

The next night, Miele is playing host to state-ranked Kennedy Catholic (No.13), watching Coach Kevin Downes’ Indians (5-0) hold strong for a 54-53 non-league win over the gutsy Gaels behind a career game from small forward T.J. Foley (19 points). And there’s Miele, living large; giving the Mahopac Maniacs just enough rope to swing a good time from.

And when I run into him at halftime, Meile’s making sure I know about the girl’s hoops team, which, he says, has itself a nice building block in freshman Mairead Hynes, who will take the torch from her sister, senior Caitlin Hynes. Miele’s pointing out the cheerleaders, the pep squad and the five-piece band and the spill of spirit from the capacity crowd… as if I were still living across the street from PS7 in the Bronx (10463, y’all!). It’s kind of tough to miss all the euphoria that’s teeming from every set of bleachers on the Mahopac campus since the Twenty-Ten athletic season began back in early September.

Who knows what 2011 will bring and who knows if this state-ranked boy’s basketball team can come away with a league title this February or not? Maybe they can even win a Class AA tournament game along the way. It’s too far off to even predict (but I like their chances). If they go out with a league crown this winter, and Mahopac then somehow finds a way to knock off defending Class A champion Lakeland/Panas on the boys lacrosse green this coming spring, and that baseball program does business as usual, Miele’s $h!+-eatin’ grin will broaden with every victory while he, and the rest of Mahopac, await word on his replacement.

Again, there’s nothing official yet. I’m just looking in at those piercing eyes, seeing a man who knows his legacy is whole, one that knows the time is right to be with his wife and family (the lure of grandchildren is especially appealing to him). And with four decades of coaching and educating under his belt, the five Section 1 baseball championships to his credit, and having turned baseball into a way of life at Mahopac, who would say otherwise? For 22 years as varsity baseball coach, Meile used incessant passion and unrelenting authority to compile a 375-140 record that included 15 league titles, five Section 1 titles, four Regional Championships and four NYS Final Four trips. Since he hung up his spikes at the turn of the century and got behind the administrator’s desk, Miele has managed an athletic department that many would say is Putnam County’s finest.

He’ll be turning over the keys to a pretty fit kingdom if he does indeed decide to retire at the end of the school year, and the next guy/gal to sit in his chair will have some big shoes to fill (when he decides to leave).

“Don’t go running me out of here just yet, Gallagher,” he joked last week. “We still got some work to do.”

For now, just take a look at him and tell me you don’t get the same sense I do. Contentment is in the eye of the beholder, my friends, and you can see it in Frank Miele these days…

God Bless and Happy New Year, gang!

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.