He’s at the age where most high school track coaches would have long hung up their stopwatch, but Eli Acosta is not really the retiring type.
The Huntington High School’s assistant boys’ indoor and outdoor track and field coach, Acosta plays a critical role in the Blue Devil program. He’s head coach Ron Wilson’s right hand man and he brings more than 50 years of experience to work with him every afternoon.
Acosta taught biology and chemistry in the Brentwood School District for 32 years. He obtained a B.S. degree in biology education at Manhattan College, where he was All-American in the two-mile relay. He earned a master’s degree at Stony Brook University.
Acosta has coached cross country and track and field for more than a half-century at Brentwood, Walt Whitman, Half Hollow Hills, Saint Anthony’s, Deer Park and Huntington high schools.
He’s coached state champions at Walt Whitman and state and national champs at Brentwood and Huntington. Acosta has won many awards along the way, but typically prefers keeping the focus on the athletes he coaches instead of himself.
Acosta was Huntington’s cross country coach for many years before turning his attention to the winter and spring track teams when Ron Wilson assumed the head coach position following Dennis Walker’s retirement.
Since Wilson and Acosta have teamed up, Huntington has soared. The Blue Devils have won multiple league, county, state and national indoor and outdoor championships and become one of the top programs in the country.
Huntington boys' track coach Eli Acosta.
“Eli has played a role in everything we do,” Wilson said. “He’s the most experienced assistant coach in the nation. What other assistant coach brings more than 50 years of experience with him to practice every afternoon? He’s a lovely man who knows his stuff. He’s unflappable and his steadiness is just what we need.”
Acosta was honored at USA Track & Field’s Long Island chapter’s annual awards breakfast at Hofstra University last Sunday. The Huntington coach was presented with special recognition for his long and devoted service to the track community.
“Eli has a real gift for getting the most out of the kids he coaches,” Wilson said. “He’s a master of the technical aspects of every event and he knows how to motivate. His analysis and strategy is tops. We are very fortunate to have him on our staff. The kids love him.”
At last Sunday’s breakfast, Acosta choked up after receiving his award while discussing how special it has been to be associated with Huntington during its magnificent rise to national prominence. He became emotional while thanking his family for its support and expressing his appreciation for being welcomed into the Blue Devil family of coaches.
“We are looking to win state championships in March and Eli is going to play a role in all of it,” Wilson said.