Bill Class came to Huntington in 1929 and over the next 34 years established a standard of excellence that continues to this day in the Blue Devil athletic program. He retired more than a half-century ago and passed away in August 1984, but he will never be forgotten in the community for his work at Huntington High School.
A $1,000 scholarship in Coach Class’ honor was presented on Wednesday night to senior Ryann Gaffney at the 49th annual Blue Devil senior athletic awards banquet. The teenager is headed to the Boston University in the fall. She plans to pursue architectural studies there and play on the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse team.
During this week’s awards dinner, Mike Connell, Mr. Class’ grandson, read a short profile of the man who spearheaded the development of Huntington’s sports program as the district’s athletic director and its leading coach.
Mr. Class is a man who is still revered by several generations of Blue Devil athletes living in the area and around the country. His lasting imprint can still be found in the district today.
The Class scholarship is awarded annually to a college bound male or female athlete who has participated in three varsity sports, demonstrated outstanding athletic achievement, character, leadership and sportsmanship qualities both in the playing arena and the classroom.
Well known for always putting forth her best effort, Ms. Gaffney has been an exceptional scholar and athlete. The teenager has excelled in soccer, indoor track and lacrosse, repeatedly winning honors in each of the three sports.
Huntington senior Ryann Gaffney
Ms. Gaffney boasts an academic grade average of 104. She’s served as a team captain for each of the three sports she’s played for the Blue Devils and has received New York State Scholar Athlete Award recognition during multiple seasons.
“Ryann’s teachers have always been impressed with her work ethic and have found her devotion to her studies, clubs and athletics to be uplifting,” Mr. Connell told a crowd of about 300 in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium. “Her physical education teachers feel that Ryann puts her all into every activity and situation and is a great role model. Huntington is very proud of her.”
Coach Class was a giant in teaching and athletics. He developed a modern physical education program at a time when only a handful existed in the country and his teams won numerous county championships in football and baseball. He was convinced that every student should participate in athletics in order to experience a more well-rounded education and to help create school and community spirit.
“I am honored to receive the Class Award and very grateful to Mr. Connell and his family for recognizing my hard work,” Ms. Gaffney said.
Coach Class comes to Huntington
Coach Class graduated from Cortland State Teachers College in 1927 and came to Huntington two years later. He coached football, basketball and baseball and started the wrestling program in 1937, coaching that team for two seasons. Serving as the athletic director, Mr. Class put together the framework for a modern sports program.
“He won county championships in football in 1946, 1947 and 1948,” Mr. Connell said. “He won seven county championships in baseball from 1929 to 1952.”
William Class was a giant in the Huntington School District.
In 1954, Mr. Class turned over his coaching duties to his trusted assistants and became the administrative head of physical education and health, special services and transportation, eventually overseeing the construction of a new Huntington High School. He retired from the district in 1963.
At a testimonial dinner held in his honor, high school Principal Robert Cushman said “Coach Class never permitted himself to do less than his best, and he couldn’t tolerate slipshod habits among his boys. Another characteristic was to teach students to play the game and then let them use their own initiative and ingenuity. His methods of training were characterized by refinement, and he never used profanity.”
When asked how athletics had affected his life, Mr. Class responded, “The opportunity to work with young men to improve their ability and knowledge of the game and to instill the desire and drive to be good in their chosen field has been both challenging and rewarding as a life’s work.”
Ms. Gaffney was presented with a handsome plaque and the $1,000 stipend the scholarship carries. A separate, permanent plaque hangs in the main athletic showcase in the lobby outside Louis D. Giani Gymnasium with the engraved names of all the William Class Scholarship Award recipients through the years.
William Class Memorial Scholarship Award Recipients
- 1985 Joseph Zirpolo
- 1986 Peter Marshall
- 1987 Justin Carey
- 1988 Tara Mizell
- 1989 Karen Fischer
- 1990 John P. Paci III
- 1991 Brian Shanley
- 1992 Daniel Maier
- 1993 Kristin Detor
- 1994 Brian Bentley
- 1995 Margaret and Jennifer Tietjen
- 1996 Caroline Turner
- 1997 Susan Fiore
- 1998 Dawid Rechul
- 1999 Douglas Logigian
- 2000 Karen Sulinski
- 2001 Donna McCann
- 2002 Meghan Turner
- 2003 Kathryn Lee
- 2004 Kevin Beck
- 2005 Erin Coffey
- 2006 John Lee
- 2007 Jacqueline Bodnar
- 2008 Leslie O’Brien
- 2009 Kerry Hicks
- 2010 Meredith McCourt
- 2011 Sarah Ehrman
- 2012 Alexandra Martinolich
- 2013 Katia DeSimone
- 2014 Lee Reiver
- 2015 Scott Gulizio
- 2016 Thomas Kopstein
- 2017 Ryann Gaffney