As a runner, Coach John Donodeo is a marathoner. He has completed several races, including the New York City Marathon and the Disney Marathon. But as a coach, John is an "ultra" runner, and in this year’s fall season he reached the remarkable milestone of 100 seasons of coaching at Regis.
Beginning in the fall of 1982 and continuing uninterrupted since, Donodeo has coached 3 seasons—Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track—each year. This past academic year was his 34th at Regis.
On Sunday, May 22nd, members of the Regis community came together to celebrate this remarkable achievement. The day began in the Regis chapel where Bishop Raymond Chappetto, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn and a cousin of Coach Donodeo, celebrated Mass. Ron Romano ’16, a co-captain of the Cross Country team, showed a different side of his arsenal of talents by providing musical accompaniment on the piano.
After Mass, many changed from Sunday-best into shorts and t-shirts to head out to Central Park for a fun run. Under sunny skies, Coach Donodeo led a massive group of runners—former athletes, current athletes, parents, and fellow coaches—around the bridle path that rings the Central Park Reservoir.
In the fall, Co-Captains Ron Romano '16 and Massimo Morreale '16 noticed pavers commemorating different individuals and causes on the bridge that leads to the Central Park Reservoir. Most Regians know this bridge as the place to stretch before a Phys Ed class or track practice. They thought such a commemoration would be a fitting way to honor Coach Donodeo during his 100th season. A space for a stone was quietly reserved earlier this spring and the newly installed paver was revealed to Coach Donodeo right before the fun run began. Coach Donodeo’s name and accomplishment is now and will forever be etched in stone—quite literally—on the bridge.
After viewing the stone in the park and completing the fun run, the crowd gathered back at Regis for a barbecue and remarks. Jay Barry ’96, a former Captain of John’s teams and a current member of the Regis Board of Trustees, shared a reflection about John as a coach, and noted that Coach Donodeo "embodies Ignatian ideals." At the reception, Coach Donodeo was also presented with a replica of the stone now on display in Central Park.
Donodeo, a CHSAA Hall-of-Fame Coach, reflected on his many seasons as a coach, focusing on the many people who have supported him throughout his career, most notably Athletic Director and Physical Education Department colleague Kevin Cullen and his wife, Myrna, who was present along with John's children John '02 and Laura (a former guidance counselor at Regis). As always, he was full of praise for the countless runners he has coached and reflected on the meaning of coaching, which, in his opinion, goes much beyond winning titles.
"I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for attending," reflected Donodeo. "It's a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I have such fond memories of everyone and having everyone together for the day rekindled much of those."
"Coaching with John now is every bit as adventurous as running for him 20 years ago," said David Bonagura '99, a current track assistant coach and colleague. "He has not lost an ounce of his passion or enthusiasm. And those same jokes he used back then are still funny now!"
"John has been an inspiration and a role model to me, as a coach, teacher, and family man," added James Kennedy '02, another assistant coach and colleague. "As a coach, he inspires his runners to do their best, no matter their ability. As a teacher, he brings enthusiasm to everything he does. As a husband and father, he shows what love really is."
A selection of photographs from the day's celebration, taken by Nicholas Drury '18, are provided below.
Many thanks to James Kennedy '02 for contributing content to this article.
IN THE NEWS:
Coach’s Track Journey Surpasses 100 Seasons | The Tablet, June 8, 2016