Letter to the Editor: At football practice tonight, come see what 40 high school boys can do

Monday, August 27, 2012
by Jeffrey Mester

To the Editor:

I want to thank you for printing the story, “Monday Night Lights - An Invitation to see the Quakers Practice on Rec Field”.  I write wearing many hats.  Most prominently, I am a School Board Member and I am the father of both a Varsity (and a JV) football player.

I am writing to encourage the entire community to come out tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. to watch the football team prepare for its season.  As both a father and Board Member I cannot express well enough how proud I am of this team and these players.  Regardless of their won-loss record this year, these boys have already proven themselves winners.  They have overcome adversity, uncertainty and forced change.

While the football program has been under scrutiny recently, most members of the community and district are not aware, when the football program is spoken about, what being part of the program really means.  Coach Tribou taught so much to these boys.  Many of those lessons were about football, about being in shape and being prepared.  However, he taught these boys so much more than the X’s and O’s of football. 

Above all else, he taught these boys about teamwork, about supporting each other, about honor, integrity, duty and love.  Imagine my surprise listening to my first Tribou speech at the Strongman competition a few years ago when all he talked about was family, honoring your parents, loving your teammates and respecting your teachers.  Twenty minutes of Billy ranting and raving and not one thing was said about football.  Bill Tribou had a knack for taking everyone who wanted to play football—including students disengaged with school, screwing up in life, or simply directionless—and giving them focus and motivation to make the most of themselves, to respect themselves and appreciate themselves.  While many may quibble with his methods, none can question his intent.

Football, unlike many sports here at Greeley is a year-round commitment.  As it turns out, it is a parental commitment too.  Twice a week, all winter and spring long, the boys work on strength and conditioning in the Greeley weight room—at 6:30 a.m.  The attendance rate is over 95% every Wednesday and Friday.  And, since offseason workouts consist of Juniors, Sophomores and Freshman, none of them have permission to drive to school; a parent is dropping these boys off at 6:20 a.m. twice a week.  During the season, there are walkthrough meals to contribute to, ice packs to be administered, post game meals and the unspoken worst part of being a football parent, the rides from practice or games with some of the smelliest equipment and bodies you will ever encounter.  If you see a car with its windows down in 40 degree fall weather leaving Greeley, you know why.

Since April, they have dealt with the uncertainty of who would be coaching this year.  That was not resolved until this summer.  We welcome Tim Sullivan, Greeley grad, longtime assistant coach, Yorktown High guidance counselor and Chappaqua business owner (Quaker Hill).  While Tim is obviously his own man, he takes the same holistic approach to the team as Coach Tribou.  He and his staff have already built a rapport with the players.

It fell to the captains—Teddy Graves, Cory Ekstrom, Brent LoBien and Billy Marino—to lead and motivate the players through the spring.  They stepped up big-time.  They kept the team informed of the latest updates all spring.  They led by example in the weight room.  They helped plan for the coming season.  They passed their football knowledge down to the underclassmen.  What most people, even other football parents, don’t know is that being the parent of a captain is a huge commitment as well.

A special thanks to the Graves, the Ekstroms, the LoBiens and the Marinos who have stepped up and taken the lead.  I thank them for their polite yet determined advocacy with the administration on behalf of the boys, with their generosity in time and resources, and in their unwavering commitment to the team.  Incredibly enough, each captain’s parents are given a five-inch-thick binder of how to support the team throughout the year.  They organize the spring Strongman competition, non-football activities, the preseason dinner, the post game meals, the walk-thru dinners, the game day merchandise sales, the pre-season dinner, the merchandise orders, they coordinate with the coaches, etc.  The list goes on and on.  Thank you!

The boys are two weeks away from their first game at Brewster on September 7th.  So far they have dealt with losing a beloved coach, getting used to a new coach, being told that there was not going to be a trip to camp this year, and with repeated changes to what was a routine of many years. Almost weekly they were told something else was changing.

For the last week and a half they have come together, twice a day, once from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and again from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., to put all the b.s. aside and play some football.  I had the pleasure of watching two practices so far and I am happy to report they are focused and determined to have a successful season. 

Come out tonight and watch them practice.  There will be hot dogs, drinks and other food items available.  The team is hoping this will become a yearly tradition.  Its intent is to give back to the New Castle Youth Football Association (ably led by Pete Zimmerman, Greeley grad and owner of EZ Sports, along with Jim Nottingham President of the Sports Boosters) that so many of them started in, and to create a family event for the entire community.  Bring the whole family! 

Come see how 40 high school boys can overcome, ignore and put aside all the politics, limitations and changes imposed on them by us adults and work toward their common goal of being great teammates and a successful football team.


Jeffrey Mester

We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Jeffrey Mester; you and I have never met and your son has never met my son. But, we have something in common besides the fact that your son and mine played football at Greeley. We have that bond that our sons lives were touched by Bill Tribou. Thanks so much for letting our community know about Tribou and the wonderful man he is.

What do you say about a physical education teacher who tells his students to go home and hug their parents (prior to parent night) for being able to live in such a wonderful place like Chappaqua and attend the Chappaqua School System?

What kind of a football coach reads Mark Twain to his players prior to a big game ? (Greeley vs Somers 2001)

What kind of a football coach invites the dads of his players into the locker room prior to a Section 1 Championship game…..and asks the players to hug their dads. (Greeley vs. Nyack 2001)

Who has the respect of former players on his football team, whether that player was a star or just a substitute who rarely played?

Who stands in front of his team on the sideline of a one-sided game and asks “which players have not played in this game?”, so that they may be included.

What kind of a coach announces at the Senior Athletic Banquet that we have a cancer survivor among the honorees, acknowledging what is really important.

Who allows himself and his team to take all the blame for the off-campus party that occurred during the 2001 season, because he did not want the coaches of the other teams or their players at Greeley (who were at the party) to be vilified?

Bill Tribou is not just a football coach or physical education teacher; his students and players are learning about life. How to be a man or woman. How to do the right thing. How to support your fellow students or teammates. How to stand up for yourself. How to be responsible.

Horace Greeley has, and has had, some wonderful teachers, coaches,  and role models for our children. Tribou was one of those people and I for one say “thank you”.

By M.Harris on 08/27/2012 at 3:55 pm

Bill Tribou’s students and players will never forget him and how he made a tremendous difference in many lives. I think he actually saved some lives by being there for kids who had little support at home. He is a tough old guy, with flaws, but our kids—from the coolest quarterbacks to loner kids who would have just spun off unnoticed into space at Greeley—leaned many valuable lessons from him. Coach Tribou taught them to be stronger and wiser and to pay attention, sometimes by doing something very simple such as reading off the names of the troops who died that week in Iraq. He told parents at open house to throw away their kids’ computers because sitting on their butts for hours every day, day after day, with no physical activity, would send their children to an early grave. (“The greatest show at Greeley” one parent called Bill Tribou’s open house speeches.) He fought to prevent physical education classes from being cut. He fought against certain playing schedules. He fought, well, for and against a lot of things. Maybe too many.  However, the football coaches, team, and parents, as Jeff Mester said, are doing what their former leader would have wanted: working hard to have the best season possible. Tribou’s presence is still on the Greeley field. We are very pleased and thankful that Coach Sully has stepped up during this tough time.

By L. Anderson on 08/27/2012 at 11:27 pm

Probably appropriate to move on. HS Football is one of many sports….should be about the students, and not so much about the coach and the parents.

By Time to move on on 08/28/2012 at 11:43 pm

I agree to with time to move on. High School should be about the students and not overly involved parents.

By Time to Move On II on 09/01/2012 at 8:45 pm

I’m not an avid sports fan, but I find it interesting that there is so much discussion regarding a football coach, and less emphasis on the other Horace Greeley teachers and the great job they do. Especially that this article is from a School Board Member.

By Chappaqua Parent on 09/02/2012 at 10:43 pm

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