Friday, 19 March 2010 00:00
I read with great interest your recent letter requesting input on renaming the GCHS baseball field after Jon Dolecki.
I think this is a wonderful idea. As you said in your letter Mr. Dolecki served as a teacher and coach, working tirelessly for the youth of the community for 36 years. I would like to expand on his achievements.
Jon Dolecki was the head coach of the baseball team for 32 seasons from 1976-2007. His teams won an astounding 548 games while losing only 277, a two-thirds winning percentage that any major league team would love to have. In 32 seasons his team made the playoffs 28 times. As I am sure you are aware this is not one of those situations where everybody gains a playoff berth. Only the best make it.
His teams were champions of their division 12 times, averaging one division championship every three years. Furthermore, they reached the semifinals of the county playoffs eight times, and the finals six times and won three times. They were the Long Island champs and the New York State champs in 1986. Additionally they won the Gold Coast Championship, an annual event that featured local area high schools, four times and traveled to North Carolina in 2002 and 2003 where they won the Tarboro Classic.
So, in terms of achievement on the field, nobody can question Jon Dolecki’s credentials. Accordingly he was recently inducted into the city of Glen Cove Athletic Hall of Fame. But there is more. Jon Dolecki did not achieve all of the records stated above simply because he was blessed with talented players, which he was. Those records came because he consistently got the very best out of his teams, got them to play better than they ever thought they could play. He nurtured and grew the tradition of Glen Cove High School baseball excellence and made sure that incoming players were aware that they were part of a proud tradition that was bigger than themselves, and that they owed it to their teammates and themselves and to those that came before them to be the very best they could.
The tradition of the GCHS family that he fostered is why hundreds of players, spanning all of the years that he coached, returned to Glen Cove last summer, some from as far as California, in order to honor him on his retirement. Former players, some with as much as 30-year differences in age realized that they had all shared a common experience, and that there was a bond between them, and that the experience that they shared in no unimportant way helped determine just who they had become.
I believe it was out of that experience that the sentiment for the renaming of the field, which led to the petition before you, was conceived. There are those who would say, if you do this, then what about so and so and such and such. Frankly I do not think it would be a bad idea to name things after teachers and administrators who had a history of long and exemplary accomplishment in the school district. An awareness of a tradition of excellence on the part of students cannot be a bad thing. If people in the community feel strongly enough to petition for such a thing, then I believe you should give it serious consideration.
While I was not one of the original petitioners, as the father of a son who benefited greatly from playing for Jon Dolecki, I certainly endorse it wholeheartedly.