Ron Wilson has won many awards over the years, but this one is among the most meaningful to him. The Huntington High School dean and football and track coach will be feted at the Huntington Booster Club’s annual gala on Friday, October 28 at the Crescent Club.
“I am pleased, honored and humbled to accept such recognition and join the ranks of past recipients who I have long admired and respected,” Mr. Wilson said.
The evening will feature hors d’oeuvres, dinner, open refreshments, music, dancing, raffle and prizes. Mr. Wilson will be honored along with fellow Huntington alum and multi-published author, Dr. Alfred Sforza. Visit www.huntingtonboosterclub.com to purchase tickets.
Born, raised, educated and employed here, Ron Wilson is pure Huntington. A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 1994, he 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, taking part 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 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.
Highly effective motivator
The Huntington Booster Club
is honoring Ronald Wilson.
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.
“I’ve had some great and memorable years of teaching and coaching in Huntington, however the year that just passed was the single best time I had in my coaching career,” Mr. Wilson said. “Winning countless state and national track titles was awesome! The response from the community was great. Everyone was happy for us and celebrated the remarkable victories along with us.”
Volunteered as a coach for two years
Mr. Wilson got his “humble start” by volunteering with Finley football coaches Rick Eriksen and Phil Lowe in 1999. He continued to assist the pair during the 2000 season, working with the “C” and “D” squads. “We went undefeated that year with athletes like Charlie Paar, Max Pomper, Eric Posner, Kendall Edwards, Andrew ‘Hammer’ White and Damond Gordon,” he recalled. “The following year, Steve Muller asked me to move up with the group and coach the JV with my longtime friend, Chris Petit. We didn’t go undefeated, but we battled to an incredible 6-2 mark. That was a great year. I am now friends with many of the athletes I coached that year, in addition to coaching alongside one of them now in Andrew White.”
The extraordinary educator said another career highlight came in 2003 when he coached with Tim Madden. “We had the Bratton twins and lost our first couple of games,” Mr. Wilson said. “Two of our players, Enrique Hernandez and Jason Soto lost a family member and were out. We supported them by going to wake services and kneeling down to pray with them and for them. That was a special moment because it showed just how deep our love was for one another. Our season took a turn for the better when the duo returned. We dominated every game thereafter. Zach Howell hooking up with the twins on different smash routes and deep routes for touchdowns was incredible. Big Troy Binford and Kiki Hernandez led a balanced attack on the ground. We upset longtime nemesis, Sayville in a blowout, 24-6. They came into Blue Devil Stadium boasting a three year winning streak. We ended that on the last game of the season.”
Being a member of the football staff when Huntington won the 2005 Suffolk and Long Island championships was “awesome,” Mr. Wilson said. “Riding back through the village and then through Huntington Station felt so surreal. Everyone was cheering for us because we had done what no other Huntington football team had done.”
After longtime Huntington track and field head coach Dennis Walker retired, Mr. Wilson assumed the position in 2008. “That year we won league championships and sent Eddie Santos to the state championship in the discus,” Mr. Wilson said.
“A season I hold close to my heart”
When Mr. Muller asked for a leave of absence in 2008 for family related reasons, Mr. Wilson stepped in as the Blue Devil varsity team’s head coach. “That season wasn’t a winning one by record, but it’s a season I hold close to my heart,” he said. “Brian Ruggiero, Joe Brown, Josh Daves, Jake Gayle, Nick Sammartano, just to name a few, were just spectacular. I will always remember Brian Ruggiero getting up in the middle of the huddle after a tough loss to Harborfields and saying, ‘There is no other place I’d rather be than right here with you all!’ I think I wept and to this day I still get a bit teary eyed when I think of it. It was an awesome time to be a Blue Devil.”
In 2011, Mr. Wilson saw three of his track and field athletes advance to the state championships. Tyriek Johnson, Trayvon Toney and Dante Allen all shattered Huntington records that year on their way to capturing All-Long Island and All-State honors.
The 2013 football season, which had many ups and downs is still another highlight. “Lord knows you could feel the love and respect both athletes and coaches had for one another,” Mr. Wilson said. “I believe that’s why we won another county championship. Nick Arleo, Ben Kocis, Troy Greene, Lavar Butts, Christian Jamison, Infinite Tucker and Y’Majesty Allen, and many others made this a special year. I’m glad I can call them friends now that they are much older.”
Mr. Wilson’s smile will surely be on full display the night of the Huntington Booster Club gala. He expects to see many familiar faces at the gathering and he’ll be happy to discuss some of the unforgettable moments of past years with anyone willing to listen.
“I’m sure there were many more memorable, highlights from my short career, however these few stood out,” Mr. Wilson said. “I’ve coached some great young men and women here in Huntington, too many to name. If I didn’t name you, I apologize, but know you’ve played a great role in my life and for that I am truly grateful.”