L. to r.: Gary Makowicki, national chairman of Girls' Track and Field, Bruce MacDonald and Sara Kinney, president.
Late in November, the New York State High School Athletic Coaches' Association selected Port Washington's Bruce MacDonald as the girls' Track and Field Coach of the Year. Along with the letter informing Mr. MacDonald of this honor was an application to be considered as one of the top track and field coaches in the United States. Upon completion of the application, Bruce MacDonald was chosen as one of the top eight coaches in the country. The awards ceremony took place in Fargo, North Dakota.
When asked who had nominated him for New York State Coach of the Year, Bruce MacDonald's response was modest. "I do not know, and I am not sure why." He mentioned the many outstanding girls' and boys' track and field coaches in New York State, as well as the distinguished coaches in Nassau County alone. Mr. MacDonald is pleased that he would even be considered in such a field of coaches.
Bruce MacDonald began his teaching career at Port Washington High School in 1957. He taught at the high school for 34 years and has been a resident in the Port Washington area for 43 years. During his first year at Schreiber High School, he began the first boys' cross-country and indoor track and field teams. (At this time, there was no competition for the female students.) In three short years, Kevin Powers, one of Bruce MacDonald's first Port Washington athletes, won the country cross-country championships and qualified for the state championships. In spite of great confusion before the state championships due to his lost bus driver and lack of adequate warm-up, Powers was strong enough to finish ninth out of the runners from the larger schools in the state.
In 1966, Bruce MacDonald began the girls' track and field team. He comments that, over the years, he has had more than his share of exceptional athletes. Each has had a strong desire and commitment to develop his/her talents. Under MacDonald's tenure as coach, 11 athletes from Schreiber High School have competed on national teams and in international competitions. His most recent international competitor is Samantha Maskowitz, a long-jump competitor in Israel's Maccabean Games. Samantha, one of only three girls invited to compete from the United States, finished third in the competition. Other international competitors from Schreiber High School include Ron Dancil, who competed on several senior national teams, and Ellen Minkow, who broke American records in the 5K and 10K racewalk and the world record for the one-mile racewalk. Ellen also broke the boys' state and national high school records for the one-mile racewalk. She was the first woman to compete in the men's college IC4A indoor championships. Not only did she compete in the men's one-mile racewalk, but she also won it as a freshman.
Another of Bruce MacDonald's athletes, Jim Menchie, competed against the Russian team as a member of the USA Junior National Track and Field team while he was still in high school. He won National Junior Championships in the 5K, 10K, 15K and 20K racewalks and held national records for the one-mile indoor and outdoor high school racewalks. Joanne Shima, upon her completion of eighth grade, competed for the USA Senior National racewalking team in Denmark and then competed in Sweden for the World Championships. As a senior in high school, she qualified for the World Racewalking Championships in Denmark. Chris Shea, who competed in the World Racewalking Championships in Norway for the USA National team, was one of the best mile and two-mile high school runners in New York state. She set the high school national record for the indoor one-mile racewalk and broke world records in the one-mile racewalk and in the one-hour racewalk.
Neni Davis competed in the World University Games in the shot put, held several school records at St. John's University, and recently broke the US record for her age group. More former Schreiber athletes include Mariquita Patterson, who broke 12 track records in her years at Harvard University. She won the 60-yard hurdles in the indoor championships, breaking the record (which still stands today). In the same meet, she also placed third in the long jump. Hope Hallock competed on the USA Junior National team in Montreal; her performance in the 5K racewalk helped the USA team win the tri-meet against Canada and Mexico. Another of MacDonald's distinguished female athletes includes Marianne Berndt, who competes now on the Chilean Senior National team in the shot put and discus. At Schreiber High School, she came in second place in the shot put at the high school indoor state championships and first in the Eastern indoor high school championships. She also holds the 168th Street Armory record in the shot put.
As if this distinguished group was not enough for a successful career as coach, it marks just a few of Bruce MacDonald's outstanding performers. Still others include Claudia Silva, winner of the one-mile indoor racewalk in a meet record in '78, and Nicole Dumpson, winner of the pentathlon in the outdoor state championships in 2000 and winner of the 400-meter hurdles in the New York State Empire Games. During the first track meet of her freshman year in Central Connecticut, Nicole broke four school records. In addition, Karen Skinner won the 60-yard dash in the indoor championship and set the state record in '83.
As a team, the Schreiber girls have had five state champions, three of these champions have set records for the Indoor State Champions. Mr. MacDonald was disappointed that he did not have enough time to credit all the other outstanding athletes with whom he has been privileged to work. He plans to write an article about the history of the team shortly in order to honor all his dedicated and distinguished athletes.
Bruce MacDonald mentions that, to be a good track and field athlete, a person has to put in many tough workouts to develop their ability. Having had a long, distinguished career as a national and international competitor himself, he understands the work ethic that makes a great athlete. Reflecting on the memories he has stored from his career as a coach, Macdonald comments that every athlete he has coached has been a winner. Whether they have set a national or state record or have never scored a point at a meet, the athletes he has coached have "won" because they have developed their physical and inner strength, qualities which will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Bruce MacDonald stressed his gratitude to each athlete who has been a member of his team. He credits the team for the achievement they have enjoyed throughout the years. The team's success, according to MacDonald, is a direct result of each athlete's determination to do his/her best. The success of the team throughout the years, however, makes us realize the quality of the coach. The Port Washington track team has always been a source of pride to the community and an inspiration to all athletes.
Congratulations to Bruce MacDonald for being selected Coach of the Year! MacDonald thanks his team for the wonderful memories, just as his athletes and the Port Washington community must thank him for his years of dedication and service.