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Chris Vaccaro from Sachem Patch Volunteers as Football coach

Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010 by SachemPatch.com

Fred Fusaro. Steve Hackett. Bill Batwell Steve Tuttle, Tony Petillo Joe Murphy. The list goes on. I'll never lump myself into the grouping of coaches that aided in making Sachem Football feared for decades, but for one day this week I proudly strolled around Fred Fusaro Alumni Stadium as a volunteer coach for the program at North. 

I've spent thousands of hours at North with a notebook, pen and recorder, often donning a camera on my neck and video camera in my hand. I'm a one-man wrecking crew when it comes to reporting with the full media package. It was fulfilling to walk around with just a Sachem Football tee-shirt and shorts for a change.

As part of Patch.com's Give-5 initiative Patch editors take to the streets and donate five days a year to volunteering in their community. With football season looming and coverage already kicking off - no pun intended - I figured it was best to give back to the program in a voluntary manner. 

Tuesday was a momentous day for Patch.com, as we launched our 100th site in the country and announced the expansion to 500 communities by the end of the year, changing community journalism as you know it. Combining a Give-5 day with the celebratory announcements made sense.

The alarm went off at 6 a.m., already a different start t0 my day, which can begin whenever I want it to, but generally starts a couple of hours later. I walked into the weight room in the bowels of the school and chatted with the other coaches. Shortly after, North head coach Dave Falco said I'd be known as "Coach Vaccaro" today. Music to my ears.

Since the players do most of the leg work with setting up cones and pads, coaches can relax and wake up a bit for the first 20 minutes or so of training camp, which started Monday.

I was assigned to work with Sachem alum and coach Gary Comstock and the JV squad. I preferred that. Sachem doesn't need me messing around with the varsity.

Most of the time I spent observing, listening to specific recommendations on technique. At times I'm sure I was listening more intently than the players, though Comstock keeps it light. It's not rocket science, but JV and JV9 players aren't developed enough with coordination and muscle movement to grasp some very basic moves. When I got home I tried some of the drills just out of curiosity. I can handle it.

I never took advantage of playing school sports, aside from track my senior year (I wanted that Sachem varsity letter real bad - and got it), but mainly because I was busy running the school paper, radio station and website ... not to mention Sachem was a factory then with hundreds to choose from on the gridiron. It would have been an honor and a privilege to strap on the Black & Gold. Too many players don't understand that at a callow age. It's not until after they graduate, after they no longer have an opportunity to play football, that they realize the magnitude of playing for Sachem.

Later in the practice I grabbed a tackling dummy - or circular foam pad with hand grips - and stood there as players practiced their offensive line techniques. I held my ground for most of the drill, but felt overworked and hot after about 15 minutes of that. I hit the watering hole and finished up the extent of my physical coaching abilities shortly after.

When Sachem wins the Long Island Championship this year - for the first time in program history - I'd like a ring. I'm just saying. And yeah, I said it. LIC. Why not? Sachem is ranked No. 1 and that means something. It's time to silence the folks from Floyd and win big again. It's time to avenge last year's loss in the Suffolk County title game, and heck, let's avenge the '95 Long Island Championship loss and finally claim what's rightfully ours. 

The truth is, this wasn't my "one day" of involvement with Sachem Football. If you haven't realized by now, I bleed Red, Black & Gold and have been a supporter of the program since I covered it in high school, wrote a book about it afterwards and built this site around the Sachem name because it means more to me than anything.

Listening to the other coaches talk, especially with a giddy sense of pride during early-practice stretches, proved that motivational and uplifting commentary works. At least for me it did.

 "There's no better place than this," Falco screamed. "Where else would you rather be right now?"

It's true, on a hot summer day, with the heat pouring off the turf and the sun rising above the trees behind the practice field at North, the arrowhead painted brilliantly on the field, that Sachem name painted boldly in the endzones. This is gridiron bliss at its best.

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