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Richard Conklin, Then and Now
Richard Conklin, Then and Now


Coach Conklin’s heart stills beating in Nanuet   

Rich Conklin, perhaps as much as anyone, holds a special place in his heart for Nanuet — more specifically, for Nanuet High School athletics and the Nanuet community.

Born in Suffern but a Nanuet resident since the age of 3, the long-time and accomplished wrestling and football coach – whose last season at Nanuet was at the end of the 2010 season – was happy to hear that a new website has been introduced to augment coverage of the Golden Knights.

The new site,, an effort launched by DigitalTown, features the latest news and information for Golden Knights fans, including news, scores,

schedules, community directory, photos, videos, live streams, as well as archival content such as yearbook images.

“I think it’s great; everything else is moving forward,” said Conklin, who came out of a two-year retirement to join football coach Mike Scarpelli’s staff at Clarkstown South HS for another two seasons as the offensive coordinator.

“Nanuet is somewhat unique … a smaller school that over time has become competitive in a number of sports,” continued Conklin, who as a schoolboy gridiron prospect spent two years at Albertus Magnus HS before switching to Nanuet, which fielded a football team. Conklin played two years for the Golden Knights, and then four years at Southern Connecticut State University.

The Golden Knights built their reputation on the backs of their football and wrestling teams, with some years the baseball team kicking in.

Winning attitude

“The winning attitude carried over to other sports, including the women’s sports programs,” noted Conklin, whose football team went undefeated in 1979. Ten 10 years later, the Golden Knights not only went unbeaten again, but held the opposition scoreless every game and did so while playing every game on the road.

“There was a major construction project going on at the time,” Conklin recalls. “We had to hop on a bus and travel to Marian Shrine behind North Rockland High School every day just to practice.”

(According to unofficial records, the Golden Knights still stand as the only high school football team to shut out every opponent while playing every game on the road.)

Conklin welcomes the new age of digital media, laughing at how much time and effort it took to obtain a game film in his early days.

“We used 8 millimeter film, and some schools still used 16 millimeter – unbelievable,” he continued. “We had to drive the film down to Paterson (N.J.) and hope to get it back in time to scout. Now when the game’s over, the assistant coach sends it to Huddle (a national firm) and they have it back the same night.”
In this vein, Conklin expects the new Golden Knights website to provide yet another avenue to gain useful information.

“It’ll even be a help to college coaches, a good win situation,’’ Conklin added. “I’m glad they did that. (Clarkstown) South has had one a couple of years, and I think other schools have them, too.”

In an email, Jack Londgren, community manager for, commented: “From our ongoing communication with members of the community, we know that there is tremendous interest in the idea of a community site for Golden Knights fans. … It is an ideal tool for fundraising, particularly for smaller teams and clubs that do not have the benefit of dedicated booster clubs.

SOFTBALL’S GREATEST: Rockland County softball fans well remember such figures as Ron Jacaruso and Bobby Aloi, not to mention John Jemison and Claude Bellando. Through the combined efforts of Rockland’s Greatest facebook page, established by Spring Valley native Andre Chiavelli, and Anthony Russo of community-involved Rockland Bakery, the Rockland County Softball Hall of Fame is being revived with an induction celebration on October 16 at Pasta Cucina in Suffern. The event is set to begin at 6 p.m. Bellando and Jemison are to receive Lifetime Achievement Awards. For information and tickets contact Steve Garbatow at 914-907-9218.

Shane Cronin, steady foot
Shane Cronin, steady foot

COLLEGIATE CLIPS: Sophomore Brittany Grandville of Tappan was victorious is singles and doubles (with Carol Tyson of Rhinebeck) as the New Paltz women’s tennis team continued unbeaten through four matches following an 8-1 victory over Brockport  at the Salmon Creek Tennis Club in Spencerport. New Paltz looks to extend its streak on September 19 at 1 p.m. when it hosts Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. … Deja Smith of Suffern finished with six kills and four blocks as the Cortland women’s volleyball team lost a five-set heartbreaker to Union College during the opening day of action at the Union College Invitational in Schnenectady. Cortland also bowed to Union College. … Freshman Donny Davis of New City scored two rushing touchdowns as SUNY Cortland held off Framingham State, 61-49, in a non-league football game at Framingham, Mass. Junior kicker Shane Cronin of West Nyack has connected on 9-of-10 extra-point attempts and sophomore back Matt Caputo of Stony Point has seven tackles (six unassisted) for the 2-0 Red Dragons. Freshman Louie Zambardino of Suffern is another defensive back while senior Peter Smith of Nanuet is a member of the linebacking corps. … North Rockland HS graduate Blaise Panepinto is a returning freshman defenseman on the Iona College men’s soccer team. The New Rochelle-based Gaels, who went 2-2-1 to open the season, meet Hartford on September 19 at 7 p.m. in West Hartford, Conn., before returning home on September 23 to host Yale at 4:30 p.m. The women’s team — including sophomore reserve forward Marisa Bentley of Blauvelt — visits Sacred Heart University on September 18 at 7 p.m. in Fairfield, Conn. The Lady Gaels dropped their first five games of the season. … The Nyack College women’s volleyball team lost its home opener to Mercy College at Bowman Gymnasium. … Sophomore Luke Kern of Stony Point had another fine performance as the Catholic University football team lost its home opener to the University of Rochester, 45-28. Kern, an alum of Albertus Magnus HS, who had a key fumble recovery late in the game last week that led to the winning TD against McDaniel College, intercepted a pass late in the third and set up the Cardinals for a chance to retake the lead early in the fourth in the loss to Rochester.

unnamedTHIS & THAT: The inaugural Hashtag Sports Sportsfest will be held in Brooklyn October 20-21. The 2-day expo & conference will explore how digital media and technology are shaping the future of sports with speakers from Facebook, Twitter, Whistle Sports, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, ESPN, NBA, NFL, MLS, Red Bull, AMEX, FanDuel, and others. Details at … The USATF is holding its Hall of Fame ceremony on October 29 at the New Balance Track & Field Armory in upper Manhattan. Proceeds will benefit the federations’s Elite Athlete Mentorship Program. Honorees are 1984 Olympic champion Joan Benoit Samuelson, four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson, and NBC Olympics executive Peter Diamond (Lifetime Achievement Award). For information write: Armory Foundation, 216 Fort Washington Ave., New York, NY 10032; or call 212-923-1803. … Names keep popping up in our drive to decide the best amateur or pro athlete to hail from Rockland, at one time or the other. Spring Valley native Chiavelli says that Walt Weiss of Suffern, currently a big-league manager who had a distinguished career as a player, ranks as our best pro. I beg to differ. My choice would be the great NFL defensive lineman and one-time all-everything at Nyack High School, Roger Brown. Also just in, Tappan Zee alum Joe Campoli (Class of 1960) writes that Sparkill’s Joe D’Auria (still getting the most votes as an amateur) and Howie Pierson of Nyack are the two best to come out of the county. “Those two guys were great at all sports.   You could put a ping pong paddle in their hands and after one week of practice no one would beat them. They simply excelled at all sports,” related Campoli, adding JoJo Mackey as a third choice. … The inaugural Nyack HS Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony promises to be a big night, offers well-respected historian Tom Doherty. The event, celebrating more than 70 years of sports accomplishments, from Jimmy Kane (Class of 1945) to the present, will take place on October 8 at The Patriot Hills Country Club in Stony Point. Access: or call 845-353-7125.

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