BY JONATHAN CALIXTE
As the New York Section I Kick-Off track meet starts on Dec. 9, it will be the first time since 1970 that the North Rockland High School Red Raiders team will head into the season without head coach, Gene Dall.
Dall announced he is leaving the school to move to Texas and coach with his son at a college program. His successor is Orlando Rivera. Dall said, “When he had the winter meeting I passed the baton to him.”
In 1970, Gene Dall was the opinionated head coach of the North Rockland track and field team, a position he had held for 47 years. Throughout the years, Dall had been very successful. According to the Rockland County Track & Field Hall of Fame, as of May 2015 Dall was named Rockland County’s top coach of the season 41 times, his teams won 48 Rockland County championships, made county team championships 44 times, 40 sectional championships and coached 18 individual state champions—the list goes on and on.
“Longevity, organization, and preparation all come together,” Dall explains. “Over the years, we just constantly built on what we started.”
He says this is the reason for his successful tenure at North Rockland. Dall has not had any difficulty coaching. “I’ve never found [coaching] hard,” he says. “You have to be organized, day in and day out, if you’re not organized you can’t be a successful track and field coach. We’ve been very successful and I liked working with the kids.”
Dall knew he wanted to coach early on in his life—since he was a sophomore in high school. Many people aren’t sure whether they want to take on a huge responsibility at such a young age but for coach Dall, coaching was a no brainer.
“Just watching him, I knew that I learned everything there is to coaching once I graduated high school,” Dall said, who had the luxury of grasping such a strong knowledge for track and field early on that it benefited him throughout his coaching career. “My high school coach [Bill Monahan] taught me everything there is about coaching,” he says. “He had an extreme effect on me—he passed it on to me and I passed it on to my son.”
Dall goes on to say that Bill treated every athlete equally, whether you were the little freshmen in the back of the room who was scared to death or if you were the top athlete on the team.
Former Red Raiders have commended Coach Dall and still speak highly of him. Colton Lubaszka ‘11 says, “Coach Dall was absolutely a father figure for me. He was one of the main driving forces behind my maturation from freshman to senior year. The kindness, openness and support Dall had for anyone that needed it had no limits. Above all else, he always had the best interests for you, no matter what.”
Dall has had many athletes continue competing after high school. For example, Amber Lubaszka ‘15, who currently runs for St. Thomas Aquinas College, who still gives credit to Coach Dall and his philosophies, “I think one of the most important things that I learned from Coach Dall was to trust your training,” Lubaszka says. “Trusting your training has a level in believing in yourself and those words stick with me every time I do a workout, run, or lift.”
For Dall, winning was never difficult because he would always put the athletes in a position to win. “You put yourselves into positions where there are spots where there are fewer people,” he explains. “It makes it easier to be good but it made life harder on other coaches because they had to develop that expertise.”
Dall plans to keep the same philosophy as he goes on to coach at the collegiate level come 2018. Dall will soon be off to the Lonestar state where he will be continue coaching at Texas A&M-Kingsville with his son Ryan. For Dall, going to Texas to coach with his son is not anything that he hesitates about. “It’s time to go to for a number of reasons,” he says. “My granddaughters are growing up its an opportunity to be with our son. Winters are starting to get to me and my knees too.”
“I’ve sat at the Olympic trials with world-class athletes and world-class coaches,” he says. “We’ve had tremendous success. It’s not like I’m retiring and moving on to nothing.”
Track and field is an individual sport that many people do not consider a sport but for Dall, it’s the best sport. “I really think track and field is the best sport for high school athletics; the clock and type measure never lie, there’s no bench you have a meet, and you compete. You don’t sit and watch anyone score points and get touchdowns. Track and field is a great preparation for life.”