For The Love Of The Game

Growing up, many children are often encouraged to get involved in sports. However, in some important circumstances, these sports stick with them, leading some to consider coaching once their playing days are behind them.

Coaching can take a tremendous amount of time and many hours of practice and planning, much of which is not even compensated. So, I went around Fair Lawn High School and asked members of the FLHS staff, who are also coaches, what made them stick with the game.

“Ever since I remember I had a glove on my hand and a ball in my other,” said varsity baseball coach and history teacher, Jamie Graceffo. “It was something I would play growing up. Just me and my dad playing whiffle ball before dinner, and then watching baseball on TV after.”

Graceffo has been coaching Fair Lawn varsity baseball for 19 years, and growing up, has played from kindergarten through high school. Graceffo is a strong believer in a team-first mentality and that showed when, two years ago, he helped lead his team to the quarter-finals of the Bergen County tournament, while also winning a league championship in the process.

Another coach in Fair Lawn High School who is a strong believer in team work and player growth is varsity volleyball coach and business teacher Peter Zisa, who has been coaching volleyball for 17 years and has won 13 league championships, nine sectional titles, and two state championships.

“My closest friendships have been developed through coaching. Seeing an impact on players and seeing how they are not just great players, but young men, gives me meaning to coach,” said Zisa.

That bond between player and coach was a common answer for all coaches. Christine McSpirit, history teacher and track and field and cross country coach for 24 years, thinks that the experiences shared are most important.

“There is a commonality between myself and my players. I’ve been there before,” said McSpirit. “I’ve gone through what they are going through not only physically, but mentally as well.”

Physical education teacher and freshman girls’ soccer coach, Molly Maguire, is comparatively new to coaching, currently starting her fifth year. She says the thing that brings her back to coaching every year is the atmosphere surrounding the game.

“I enjoy coming to coach every day... [I] love the game of soccer. I love the atmosphere that surrounds soccer,” she said.

When asked why Maguire chose to begin coaching, she added, “I wanted to become a coach so I could still be involved in the game that I love. I want to make a positive impact on my players.”

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