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Nov 28, 2017 12:04 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

East End Football: Look To Westhampton Beach For Guidance To Building Successful Programs

The Westhampton Beach 7- and 8-year-old PAL team went undefeated this fall, finishing with a 10-0 record and winning its Division II Championship. Players included: Jake Calloway, Aiden Calamita, Jake Mancuso, Brady Hudson, Chris Cafone, Cole Maag, Brady Turza, Nico Grazina, Cain Church, Jacob Martin, Logan Barnabee, Kyle Coffey, Rowan Toolan, Blake Gilkes, Anaiis Mitchell, Dylan Blenk, Johnny Cafone, Luca Carriero, Gavin Vaccaro, Lily Blenk, Jackson Sword, Nicholas Simone and Brayden Smith. Artie Blenk was the head coach and he was assisted by Chris Hudson, Steve Calamita, Cieran Smith, Bran Turza and Steve Mancuso.
Nov 28, 2017 12:36 PM

For East End schools struggling to field competitive football teams year in and year out, the blueprint on how to run a successful program can be found right here on the South Fork in Westhampton Beach.

The Hurricanes just completed a perfect 12-0 season, winning both Suffolk County Division III and Long Island Class III Championships. Bill Parry has been head coach of the team for the past 21 years, and while it took some time for the Canes to get to where they are today, it’s clear that Parry and his coaching staff have found a winning formula to be successful against the best the county has to offer.

Having a stud player like Dylan Laube certainly helps, but football is the ultimate team sport—one squeaky wheel and the whole thing falls apart. Even Laube himself says that he would not be nearly as successful without his offensive line, which Parry and his staff seem to rebuild on a year-to-year basis—just about every season, their line is one of the best in the division, and this year, tops on Long Island.

The greater Westhampton Beach community is not immune from the same challenges that schools farther out on the South Fork face—a growing fear among parents of head injuries, a growing Latino population that prefers to play its native sport in soccer, and yes, Westhampton Beach also has beautiful beaches that tend to pull teenagers away from their commitments to athletics. So why has Westhampton Beach football found the kind of success that its neighbors to the east can’t seem to attain or sustain?

It starts at the top. Kathy Masterson, the longtime athletic director at Westhampton Beach, shows a deep desire for every single one of her programs to be successful. It shows in her constant visibility at games and matches. Then Parry and his coaching staff provide a strict, but fair, regimen that the players adhere to, not just during the season, but in the weeks prior—many of the players and coaches this past weekend spoke about being together for the past 26 weeks. That’s more than six months. These factors don’t make Westhampton Beach unique—plenty of schools have committed athletic directors, and hard-working coaches. What seems to set the Hurricanes program apart can be summed up in the old adage—it takes a village.

There was an estimated crowd of 3,000 people at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University on Sunday, comprised primarily of Westhampton Beach community members coming out in support of their program. In that crowd were former alumni, young and old, who wanted to support their team. Parents of former and current players came in support, and of course, there were the youths that one day hope to repeat what the Canes of this year accomplished, and they seem to be on the right track—the Westhampton Beach PAL 7- and 8-year-old team completed a perfect season of its own this fall, finishing 10-0 and winning its Division II Championship.

It’s clear that the larger Westhampton Beach community wants its program to be successful, and has made investments in a variety of ways, big and small, to make that happen, not just this year, but for the past several years. While Coach Parry and his staff need to be and should be lauded for their fervent work each year, the larger Westhampton Beach community, and its surrounding feeder programs and hamlets, also deserve recognition for their part in the success of the football program.

Success in the ultimate team sport cannot be achieved unless the entire community commits to engaging in the effort.

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