Montclair Athletics: Several teams await head coach approvals
by Andrew Garda
The school year could close out without baseball and girls basketball coaches officially in place for next season.
The Montclair Board of Education released its list of approvals for appointments/emergent hires during its meeting on June 5. The report listed the approved Montclair High School athletic coach stipends for the 2019-2020 school year, but while sports from every season were represented, three were left off the list.
The stipends for girls basketball, field hockey, gymnastics and baseball were absent from a list which covered everything from football to bowling to cheerleading.
Although not listed on the agenda, the BOE approved long-time field hockey coach Mary Pat Mercuro’s appointment for the 2019 season on June 17.
Girls basketball is currently without a coach, after Emily Hall was informed that she would not be retained once the 2018-2019 season ended — a move which was announced to a surprised audience during the freshman “Meet the Coaches” night in April.
Baseball co-head coaches Ron Gavazzi and Anthony Genchi, whose team won their sixth Greater Newark Tournament title this spring, and first since 2012, were also not on the list to be approved for rehire.
Both Genchi and Gavazzi are both still listed on the MHS athletics department website as head coaches, although that site appears to be out of date, as Hall is still listed as head girls basketball coach.
No athletic department open positions are posted on the Montclair school district website, so it is unclear where the two coaches stand.
Gymnastics was also absent from the list, and the status of first year head coach Amie Bassarab is unclear.
Coaches in New Jersey public schools only have contracts on a one-year basis, and districts decide whether to retain them or not at the end of each year, and often at the end of a sports season.
The coach positions are not always approved all at once, said superintendent Kendra Johnson.
“The process is to approve candidates as we approve them,” she wrote. “We try to place them all at once, but there is no such policy that we are required to do so.”
Johnson referred questions about the girls basketball coaching position to athletic director P.J. Scarpello. Scarpello did not respond to inquires about the basketball or baseball coaching positions.
On the list that was approved on June 5, also missing were the volunteer and assistant positions for girls basketball, baseball and field hockey.
Although some of these positions are not paid a stipend, such as is the case with several football and boys soccer coaches listed as “volunteer,” they still must be approved by the BOE.
Johnson did not respond to questions as to why Mercuro, who has led the field hockey program for more than two decades and has compiled a 367-117-51 record, was not approved with the bulk of the other coaches.
“The field hockey [coach] was not approved so late,” Johnson wrote in an email. “It was approved one meeting later [than the other positions].”
The BOE also approved an August field hockey trip, led by Mercuro, at its June 17 meeting.
While Mercuro’s position is secure for next season, there is no word as to the fate of other coaches in the field hockey program, such as assistant varsity coach Michelle Hagel.
****This article has been updated to include the gymnastics team. We apologize for the oversight.****