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A Legend . . .

Democrat File Photo by Rob Potter

MONTICELLO COACH DICK O’Neill, right, consoles John DeGroat after the Panthers lost in the opening round of the 2002 state Class B tournament.

. . . In His
Own Time

By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO — March 21, 2003 – The Village of Monticello and the surrounding area will see a slight population decline tomorrow.
Approximately 90 Monticello Central School administrators, staff members board members, parents and students and family members will be in Glens Falls to watch Monticello boys’ basketball coach Dick O’Neill earn a special honor.
O’Neill will be inducted into the New York State Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame at an 11 a.m. brunch tomorrow at the Glens Falls Civic Center. He joins former James I. O’Neill coach Jerry Kaplan, who entered the hall in 1996, as the only Section IX coaches to be so honored.
To be eligible for the hall of fame, coaches must have been coaching for at least 20 years, distinguished themselves with won-lost records and team championships and made important contributions to the sport.
“When I found out, I was in disbelief,” O’Neill said. “This is the biggest honor of my athletic life.”
For the past 16 years, O’Neill has coached the Monticello Panthers to scores of victories and four Section IX titles. In his career, the first 18 of which were spent at John S. Burke Catholic School, he has a record of 343 wins and 152 losses.
This past season, the Panthers posted a 19-3 record and won the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division II title. Monticello reached the Section IX Class A championship game, losing to a strong Kingston team.
“When I started coaching, I had no idea that I would end up in the hall of fame,” O’Neill said. “I never set reaching the hall as a goal.”
O’Neill credited many coaches for helping him to reach this career milestone.
“As a player in high school and college, I had excellent coaches,” he said. “I was fortunate to have a great basketball background.”
He noted that Joe Bayno, who coached the varsity team at Burke while O’Neill spent eight years as the junior varsity coach, was a tremendous influence on him.
Of course, O’Neill has had a number of quality players over the years helping him accumulate those 300-plus wins.
“I’m excited and my friends and family are very excited for me,” the 56-year-old coach said. “I’m really looking forward to the ceremony.”
Unlike some coaches in the hall of fame, O’Neill isn’t ready to put away his clipboard and whistle.
“I plan on coaching at least one more season,” he said. “After that, I’ll take it year by year.”

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