Members of the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame are those that have made a lasting impact on the school’s sports program as either student players, coaches, or supporters. Often the student players have continued to influence their chosen sports after high school by ongoing participation in athletics.
Larry Coyle, 2016 Inductee
He might have achieved coaching and teaching greatness at Brandeis High School in New York City, or at the American school in Alexandria Egypt or in Taiwan.
But a potential teachers strike and a coaching opening led Larry Coyle to Ridgewood in 1968 and when he left coaching 29 years later, both parties were very happy that their paths had crossed.
Coyle, who passed away in August, 2015, retired after the 1997 cross-country season, and even two decades later, his influence and success have been hard to approach.
In his 29 years as the Maroons’ cross-country coach, Ridgewood won 15 league and divisional titles in the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League, 12 Bergen Group 4 titles, 10 Sectional Group 4 titles, and seven Bergen Meet of Champions titles. Ridgewood won the 1991 and 1992 State Group 4 Championships, the only time a Bergen County team has gone back-to-back in the 70-year history of the group. Ridgewood also finished in the top five of the State Meet of Champions five times.
The soft-spoken (most of the time) Coyle ran track at Mount St. Michael’s High School in the Bronx and at Iona before coming to Ridgewood to teach English. The next year, the Ridgewood principal remembered that Coyle had talked about track in his initial interview and Larry quickly was hired as the school’s cross-country, indoor and outdoor track coach. He coached all three seasons for 11 years, starting the indoor program. While the Maroons didn’t win any major team titles in indoor and outdoor track, Coyle coached 1972 Group 4 indoor two mile champ Bruce Mason and 1975 Group 4 outdoor 330 yard intermediate hurdles champ Parke Muth. Dropping from the head coaching ranks in indoor and outdoor track and field, Larry stayed on as the boy’s cross-country coach with extraordinary success.
“In some ways, cross-country is the most enjoyable season, which is why I kept doing it after I gave up track. In some ways it’s the simplest and the easiest because everyone’s running the same event but it’s also the purest high school sport,” Coyle said in a 1997 interview upon his retirement from coaching.
Consistency was the hallmark of Coyle teams. They qualified for 24 of the 25 Bergen Meet of Champions races and finished in the top four the last 19 times they qualified, winning in 1978, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1995 and 1996. The Maroons also qualified for 24 out of the last 25 state group 4 Championships during Coyle’s reign, with 10 runners-up finishes and three third place finishes in addition to the 10 titles.
And his contributions went beyond simply coaching track and cross-country. Along with fellow Ridgewood Hall of Fame inductee Jacob Brown and Mike Glynn, he started and co-directed the Ridgewood Winter Games, a pioneering indoor track meet at Rockland Community College, which began in the 1970s and the season opening Ridgewood Relays, now known as the Pawlowski Relays, in the spring. These two events, still going strong today, are important stops on the area’s Indoor and Outdoor Track schedule.
Coyle is one of the great championship coaches in Ridgewood and Bergen County history, and even better than that, he was one of the finest gentlemen and teachers you’d ever hope to meet.
John Marshall, Jim Bruni, Mark Romeo, Jean Hughes, Chris Van Note, Nancy Hogan, RHS Football Team 1913, Don Taylor, Rachel Grygiel, John Cerf, Paul Tornatore, Michele Marangi, RHS Boys’ Lacrosse 1990-92
Craig Halyard, Tom Flatt, Tricia Pappalardo, Mike Henderson, Kandie Latham, Leigh Jester, Tom Dusel, Roger Sweeney, Linda Zabielski, Patty Capasso, Dennis Sullivan, Nick & Dottie Capasso, Track and Field (Bain-Daley-Oliver Era)
Kitty Batterson, Henry Blauvelt, Frank L. Bradley, Jr., Lucia Cancelmo, Chris DuFlocq, Renee DuFlon, RHS Girls’ Basketball 1922-1923, Harry Grundy, Jim Jones, Joe LeMay, Jen McDermott, Shannon McGarrigle, Tony Napier, Margaret Niemann, Vince Robertiello (Jamie Roberts), Damian Ross, Mike Springer
Paul Arrigoni, Pete Campbell, Doug Cook, Becky Deetz, Otis Grendler, Jodi Hartwig, Gene Links, Debbie O’Connell, Aimee McGuire, Walt Perdue, Tom Simos, Kazbek Tambi, Jack Van Yperen, Bob Whitaker, Margaret Scutro