By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO October 1, 2004 Kenneth Garry, long-time Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics at Monticello Central School, was recently named the Physical Education Director of the Year by the New York State Council of Administrators.
The council, part of the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NYSAHPERD), will present the honor to Garry this weekend at the Statewide Directors Conference in Utica.
In a letter, Robert Zifchock, President of the New York State Council of Administrators, informed Garry that he was being recognized due to his significant contributions to our profession at the district, zone, and state levels. It is through professionals such as you that physical education is held in high regard by educational leaders from the State Education Department to your own district.
I thank you for your dedication and hard work, Zifchock added.
The distinction is just the beginning for Garry. Next year, he will serve as president-elect of the New York State Athletic Administrators Association (NYSAAA). He is currently serving as the associations vice president. In 2006-2007, he will assume duties as president.
Garry said the council promotes health and physical education programs. It also provides training for physical education instructors and administrators.
This honor is not the first for Garry. He was presented with the Catskill Zone Honor Award by NYSAHPERD in 1991, earned the NYSAAA Chapter 9 Award in 1998, won the NYSAAA Apple Award in 2002 and was recognized with the Council of Administrators Special Service Award in 2002.
Throughout his 33 years of service to the Monticello district, Garry has promoted one important, yet simple message work hard.
The Monti AD is in his 17th year as top athletic administrator. Garry also taught physical education and driver education in the district before assuming full administrative duties.
Since he first began teaching, Garry has served as head coach of the Monticello boys and girls varsity cross country teams (1976-1989), the boys modified basketball squad, the boys junior varsity basketball team, the girls varsity basketball team and the boys and girls indoor track squads. He also coached the boys JV and varsity baseball teams and the boys varsity track team.
Garry guided a number of highly successful athletes over his tenure as a coach, including six New York State indoor/outdoor track and field champions, two Eastern States indoor/outdoor track and field teams and countless Orange County League (OCL) and Section IX track champions.
He coached three indoor track teams to a Section IX Championship, and one outdoor track squad to Section IX glory. His outdoor track and cross country teams each brought home an OCL championship. His cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams were OCL and Section IX runner-ups on numerous occasions.
Garry has contributed mightily to area and state athletics in plenty of ways, including serving as Orange County League Co-Chairman for boys and girls outdoor track and field from 1988 to the present. He served as track and field Section IX Chairman from 1984 to 1992, Chapter 9 NYSAAA representative from 1996-2004 (and this year as Vice-President).
Speaking on his current duties, he said, Everyday, there is a new challenge. I enjoy interacting with the coaches and [other administrators.]
Garry is a strong believer that sports are about more than just athleticism.
They develop knowledge and lifelong understanding, he said while watching the first game of the girls modified soccer season at Sommerville Field in Monticello. You learn how to set goals for yourself to do your personal best.
Garry thinks that sports are particularly important for todays youth, whom many scientific studies have shown are increasingly obese or out of shape. He said the reason was a lack of eating the right foods and a lack of physical activity. He believes that physical education teachers can have a significant impact on improving their students physicality.
A native of Flatlands, Brooklyn, Garry attended St. Francis Prep School in the borough. He swam the 500, 1,000 and 1,600-meter freestyle events there. Garry said the camaraderie he enjoyed on the team was rewarding. His team was far superior to their opponents, only losing three or four times in all the years Garry was on the team. He also played water polo at St. Francis Prep.
The Monticello AD said he learned a lot from his swimming coach, whom he called a great motivator.
He made you feel important, and made it fun, Garry said. At the same time, there was plenty of hard work.
Garry went on to receive his Bachelors degree from Brooklyn College and his Masters in education from Trenton State College. He also served in the 69th Infantry in the U.S. Army.
He later received certification in Educational Administration and Supervision from SUNY New Paltz.
Eventually, Garry gave up his coaching duties due to his administrative job, which he called time consuming. He lamented an increasing bureaucracy in education today. He said his administrative responsibilities had increased over the years, leaving him without enough time to give 100 percent to coaching.
Those responsibilities include working with the athletic directors throughout the region on scheduling and rescheduling games. He works with all of the Monticello coaches and sets a budget for the districts athletic department.
As he spoke, Garry kept coming back to the kids who make it all happen. He called them great and a very eclectic group. He added that many of the athletes at the school are involved in a variety of sports, clubs and activities a trend that has increased in recent years.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the districts athletes, in Garrys view, is the outstanding scholastic performance of so many of them. According to Garry, Monticello has won the most New York State Scholar Athlete championships since that program began in the 1990s.
He said that youth sports had changed over the years, in that young people have more to do than they once did.
Athletics isnt the only show in town nowadays, Garry said.
Garry was disappointed that a lot of good athletes arent participating. He called team sports participation a commitment, and noted that players have to be able to accept adversity.
Playing hard is the key, he explained. If they play hard, the coaches are happy.
The veteran educator and coach noted that scholastic athletes should always be respectful to their teammates and officials.
He thinks the Monticello sports teams can improve through more community traveling leagues. In Orange County, for example, many of the towns play each other in soccer, beginning at the age of 7 or 8. He said that gave those teams an advantage once they reached the high-school soccer level. He compared it to the advantage Monticello has held over the years in skiing over other teams since the schools home ski course at Holiday Mountain is so close.
Although he was raised in Brooklyn, Garry visited White Lake with his family throughout his childhood. He now makes the hamlet his permanent home. Among the activities he enjoys in his spare time are boating and swimming.
Evan Williams, who has taught English at Monticello High School for over three decades and has coached the boys tennis team for the last 35 years, called Garry hard-working and dedicated.
Hes interested in seeing everybody get involved in athletics, Williams said. He is interested in getting full participation. He is involved in almost all of the [sports] events. He has a real commitment.
Williams has known Garry since he first arrived at Monticello High School. Williams said that the athletic director modeled himself after coach Ed Kennedy, who was the districts athletic director, as well as a soccer and basketball coach. Williams said that Garry had the same dedication and interest in the program, as well as a great deal of loyalty to the program and its coaches.
You always had a sense that he would go to bat for you, Williams commented.