He’s helped put Huntington High School’s boys’ track and field team on the map nationally and now head coach Ron Wilson is being singled out for an honor himself.
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association has named Mr. Wilson the New York State Coach of the Year after a sensational 2016 campaign that saw the Blue Devils win county, state and national titles in several different events.
Started in 2014, the award is bestowed to selected coaches based on a number of criteria: their teams’ finishes at their respective state championships, the number of different events in which athletes were qualified, individual championships and how their teams’ performances stack up to previous years, among other criteria.
Mr. Wilson is being sent a trophy to commemorate the award. He’s now under consideration for the National High School Track & Field Coach of the Year Award. One boys coach and one girls coach will be chosen by a panel of experts.
Huntington broke a 50 year old state record en route to the 4x400m relay national title. Infinite Tucker and Kyree Johnson won national titles in their individual eents.
“It really has been an amazing season,” Mr. Wilson said. “These young men and our coaching staff have all made the necessary sacrifices for us to be successful. My heart is over-joyed! This national championship not only represented our school, family and town, but Suffolk County and New York as a whole. So many coaches in Suffolk County and athletes in Suffolk County celebrated with us as we won the national title.”
A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 1994, Mr. Wilson participated in a variety of after-school activities including the mentoring program, Student Associates Business Alliance, Black History Day, culture club and athletics.
As a junior, Mr. Wilson would go back to his old elementary school, participating in read-aloud sessions with sixth graders and discussing with them what would be expected of them in high school. It was through such programs and activities that he identified a strong inner desire to work with children.
While studying elementary education at St. John’s University, Mr. Wilson started volunteering with Teacher Opportunity Corps, serving as a mentor and tutor for inner-city at-risk youth. After obtaining a BS degree in May 1998, he began working as a substitute teacher in the Huntington and South Huntington school districts. He earned a master’s degree at Stony Brook University in 2005.
In October 1998, Mr. Wilson was hired by Tri-Community & Youth Agency to work with the young people that utilize that organization’s facilities and services. He also started volunteering as a coach with the J. Taylor Finley Junior High School football team. Players and their families quickly took a liking to him and he proved to be a highly effective motivator.
Through his connections with young people and their parents, Mr. Wilson saw a need to bridge the gap between Huntington and South Huntington athletes. He turned to Kevin Thorbourne and Crystal White, who have also dedicated themselves to nurturing area youth, collaborating with them to organize a basketball tournament that helped to shatter barriers between the two groups and pave the way for many friendships to be formed.
Mr. Wilson joined the Huntington School District’s full-time faculty in 2001. After working for many years as a second and third grade teacher at Flower Hill School and as a sixth grade teacher at Huntington Elementary School, Mr. Wilson was appointed a dean at Huntington High School.
In his work as a dean of students at Huntington High School, Mr. Wilson works closely with Principal Brenden Cusack and Assistant Principals Gamal Smith and Joseph DiTroia.
Mr. Wilson said he feels “blessed to have been given the gift of being passionate about teaching.” He has made a commitment to educate and serve the youth he crosses paths with and to be a good role model for them.
“I tell people all the time that Huntington is a great place to live and raise a family,” Mr. Wilson said. “I’ve been fortunate to have gone through the school system as a student and athlete and now work in the very system that helped to educate me and raise me. I truly enjoy working with our students and their families. Students from all walks of life struggle with life’s problems and strains. I’m just grateful for the privilege to work with them and help them get through.”