Advisor for NCAA College-Bound Student Athletes
Oceanside High School (NY)
What drew you to the world of college counseling and working with college-bound student athletes?
I have worked for over 39 years as a high school English teacher and football coach. In that time as a teacher and coach, I worked with all my players to help them find and select the best college for themselves as students first, and then, as athletes second. It was always so amazing and enjoyable to help my students find the right college and see them be successful once they were there. And so, 10 years ago, our superintendent and our athletic director came to me and asked if I would leave my role as English teacher and come to fill a need our school had -- to help our student-athletes find the right school, the right athletic program and the right coach and to help them navigate the NCAA Eligibility Center. It felt like a natural move.
One of the most important students I ever worked with was my own son, Oliver, who was an outstanding student and athlete, playing football and lacrosse. I helped him follow a journey and path to find the best school and athletic experience, and ultimately, he was recruited and accepted at Harvard University.
That was the beginning of this journey for me and it has never ended. As a high school coach involved with the NCAA for football, lacrosse, baseball and other sports, I have established almost 40 years of relationships with the organization and with coaches and colleges throughout the country. And as great coaches have said to me, “Success in college academics and college athletics is all about relationships. They are the heart of all that we do.”
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is helping students learn that they can do it, that they can reach their dream. As the West Point football coach Jim Young put it, “What the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”
I also enjoy having students come to my office and ask directly for my help. I know I am called to serve and care for all types of students -- the most talented and those who struggle. I am called to show them and help them believe that they can.
How has NACAC played a role in your career?
NACAC has helped me enormously. NACAC and its members are such an amazing team of talented, knowledgeable, caring, and yet, also humble people who take joy in serving and helping young people. They do this with young people directly, but they also do this by mentoring and guiding teachers, coaches, counselors, and advisors like me.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
We need to help our young people discern and make the good and beautiful choices for their lives. Though students may not verbalize it, they deeply wonder, “What is this life all about? Who should I be?” I lean on the lyrics of a beautiful song that “even non-believers can believe in” to help students find their own answer to those questions.
As Dionne Warwick sang, “When you walk, let your heart lead the way.”
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I love to play with my grandson, Julian, and my granddaughter, Cecelia, and take them to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania and to Dees Nursery in Oceanside, a place where Santa Claus comes each December and the Easter Bunny comes in the spring. The people at Sesame Place and Dees Nursery are so nice and care so much. They make everyone -- young and old -- smile.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
I would be a Paw Patrol character, Rocky, because my grandson, Julian, loves him so much. Rocky is never afraid to pitch in and move even the biggest obstacles. Julian loves him because he always looks to help others and he does it with a smile.
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