Photo Courtesy of Mobile Press Register
Zintel stands tall at Foley
Editor’s Note: This article about former Sullivan County resident Paul Zintel recently appeared in the Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register.
While living in Sullivan County, Zintel, who now resides in Alabama, became a legendary coach. He guided the Jeff-Youngsville football team to many winning seasons and championships in the 1970s, including a 42-game winning streak.
While coaching the J-Y boys’ basketball team, Zintel never had a losing season. Several years ago, he was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of New York (BCANY) Hall of Fame.
“Paul Zintel certainly left a lasting legacy on the Sullivan County sports scene,” Fred Stabbert III, who played against many Zintel-coached teams, said. “Not only were his teams very competitive and disciplined, but several of his former players went on to have great coaching careers.”
Zintel also went on to head the Sullivan County Community College athletic program, established a county-wide high school basketball tourney and helped start the Sullivan County Democrat Golf Tourney 31 years ago.
“When Paul got involved in something it succeeded,” Stabbert said. “His legacy is one of total commitment to the kids and sports.”
By Robert Ladnier
FOLEY, ALA. Basketball coaches have come and gone over the years at Foley High School. Though small in stature, and maybe easy to overlook because of that, the fact remains that Paul Zintel is one constant that has stood tall for the Lions.
“It’s nice working with kids,” Zintel said. “It’s on a volunteer basis.
At Foley, I started in 1994 or ’95 and have worked every year but one since then.”
An avid athlete, Zintel graduated from Waymart High in Wayne County, which is located in northeastern Pennsylvania, in 1949.
“I participated in soccer, basketball we didn't have football and semi-pro baseball, just an amateur league with some pro players,” Zintel said. “Golf is one of my biggest interests. I’ve had many golf club championships. I was also a basketball official.
“I don't think I have anything besides sports.”
After four years in the U.S. Navy following high school, it was time for marriage.
“We got married in 1956,” said his wife, Geraldine. “We were married 56 years this year on Jan. 28. We went to the same high school, he was a year ahead of me. He went into the Navy and after he got out that was the summer we got engaged, in 1955. Our kids lived in a small town but they had a good life growing up.”
Zintel graduated from East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in health and physical education.
“I went to play four years in soccer and made first team All-Eastern,” Zintel said. “I finished and had my masters at Ithaca University in New York in physical education in 1963.”
Next in line was a coaching career.
“I coached for 25 years and served as athletic director at Sullivan County Community College in New York,” Zintel said.
The coach holds the distinction of being elected to four different sports Halls of Fame.
“The East Stroudsburg Hall of Fame is for soccer and Northeastern Pennsylvania HOF for baseball and basketball for high school and amateur athletics,” Zintel said. “The Basketball Coaches Association of New York HOF is for coaching basketball that is the big one and Sullivan County Junior College is where I coached.”
As hard as it might seem, New York State did not hold a boys’ basketball tournament until 1980. Zintel, who also officiated games for 25 seasons, was a driving force in getting the state tournament implemented.
Another highlight of his career included leading the Jeffersonville-Youngsville High football team to a successful run in the mid-1970s.
“I coached football for 18 years,” Zintel said. “We had a 42-game undefeated record. One year we had an 8-0 record and nobody scored on us for eight games, around 1973 or ’74. That was quite a feat. Coach Bob Lynch was my defensive coach.
“We used the 4-4 scheme on defense and on offense we used the split-T similar to what coach [John] McKay used at USC. We never had the athletes that he had, but we were very successful.”
The Zintel couple moved to Baldwin County in the 1990s and before he knew it he was coaching once again.
“I think my doctor was Dr. Bolton and her son was in junior high,” Zintel said. “I went there and coached a couple of years in 1994. Our minister, Rev. [Dr. Mark Carl] Mueller, had two daughters and he got me involved in girls’ basketball for a few years, then I started to work with coach Randy Lee [with the Foley High boys team].”
According to Zintel, the key to longevity as a volunteer coach is hard to single out.
“I don't know, a lot of times they will pick my brain and use some of the stuff that was successful for me,” Zintel said.
Reflecting over the years, Zintel said the most exceptional athlete he has ever had the pleasure of coaching was a Foley High star who now plays with the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football League.
“It was Julio Jones in basketball,” Zintel said. “I think he could have been a Division I basketball player if we had started earlier. His athletic ability was unbelievable and he was also very coachable.”
Zintel’s wife said sports have always been important to her husband.
“He has been so involved in sports that it’s not much fun for me,” Geraldine said. “I am glad he has it because it keeps him out of trouble. He has always been helping out with teams down here since we moved, which is good. He’s coached girls for a while, too.
“He is a wonderful husband, just a good guy.”