When I reached John D’Arco tonight by phone, he told me, among other things, that everyone was put on earth for a reason. “Mine was to coach football,” he said.
The lifelong town resident and longtime Tuckahoe football coach will return for 2013 along with his staff, including his son, John Jr., and fellow assistant Pat Gallo Jr. (all pictured above).
Below is my story from tonight’s school board meeting—much ado about nothing, which, quite frankly, is all those in attendance had wanted.
EASTCHESTER When school board president Dr. Julio Urbino (pictured right) made the much anticipated announcement, the crowd broke into applause. With perhaps no exceptions, the news that John D’Arco Sr., his son John Jr., and fellow assistant Pat Gallo Jr. were returning as Tuckahoe’s varsity football coaches was met with unanimous approval.
Sure, everyone who flooded the Tuckahoe High School library came for nothing, but nothing is exactly what D’Arco’s supporters had wanted.
“I was a little bit worried, but I knew their jobs weren’t on the line,” said recent graduate Joey Bellantoni, who played on the 2010 state champs and last year’s state runner-up. “The whole community supported them. I knew it was just a bump or something that wasn’t necessary, but they got what they deserved.”
Bellantoni was joined by scores of current and former players and parents. Jarret Sommer, a 2010 state champ and the program’s all-time leading rusher, came armed with a speech that outlined his experience under D’Arco and his staff, which have led the Tigers to eight Section 1 championships, four state finals and two state titles in a 10-year stretch unprecedented in school history.
Sommer’s mom, Anne, hatched the idea during a meeting of parents this week at the town community center. She planned to read the speech on her son’s behalf but never had to.
“It was a little anti-climactic,” Sommer said. “I wanted to get up there and say something, but as long as they’re back as coaches I guess I can’t be too mad.”
After about an hour meeting in executive session, Dr. Urbino spoke briefly to the public, identifying that there had been an investigation without divulging any details. He declined comment afterward.
D’Arco, his son and Gallo met separately with administrators on Wednesday. All three had to file paperwork proving they had coaching licenses back in June, but that was not the matter under investigation.
D’Arco watched the meeting on television at home. When reached by phone, he credited the support of the community, including outgoing superintendent Edward Reilly, school principal Dr. Bart Linehan and athletic director Alex Bonci.
“It was pretty stressful the last couple of weeks,” said D’Arco, an Eastchester graduate who has coached football in the town for 40 years and has served the last 34 as the director of the community center, a post he will retire from at the end of the year. “Of course, I’m looking forward to getting back and going in a positive direction.”
With the coaches’ future in limbo, workouts were cancelled the last three weeks, much to D’Arco’s chargin. The Tigers are scheduled to attend Champions Camp at New Rochelle beginning July 28.
“We’re probably going to get right back to work and get ready,” senior lineman Mike Arborn said. “We have a game in less than two months.”