One of the more familiar faces of Greenport athletics is stepping down and retiring — again.
This retirement, Greenport’s athletic director, Rob Costantini, said, will stick.
“I’m done; I’m finished,” he told The Suffolk Times. “I’m not coming back. Never say never, but in all likelihood, I’m done.”
Costantini’s 15-year run as the head of Greenport’s athletic department ended when he retired in 2010. But then, after his successor, Todd Gulluscio, left to take the same post at Pierson High School this past December, Costantini agreed to come back and fill in for a six-month spell that will conclude at the end of this month.
“It was a good run,” Costantini said. “It really was.”
Jim Caliendo, a longtime physical education teacher at Brentwood High School, was appointed on May 14 to take over as the new athletic director.
Costantini, 60, came to Greenport in 1975 as a business educator. He went on to coach track and field, baseball, golf, basketball, and football, all at Greenport.
After becoming the athletic director, Costantini had an arrangement whereby he taught three classes in the morning and then was free to do his work as athletic director from 11 a.m. on.
“I never stopped,” Costantini said. “It was constant.”
An athletic director’s job can be one of the more difficult occupations in a school district, particularly in a small one like Greenport where the A.D. must deal with the logistics involved with running shared sports teams and small numbers of athletes, as well as issues just about all athletic directors must contend with, such as complaints from parents related to the teams their children play for. It’s not all fun and games, and it can be demanding.
“I enjoyed almost all the parts of it,” Costantini said. “The biggest headache, if you want to call it that, was dealing with things that you had nothing to do [with]. But that comes with the job and you try to deal with it the best you can.”
Costantini said the key is to be consistent in making decisions and not play favorites.
Costantini is well aware of the visibility of athletics in a community. With that visibility comes criticism. A mathematics teacher toiling in the relative obscurity of the classroom, for example, isn’t as likely to be questioned or second-guessed as a football coach or a basketball coach whose teams play in front of hundreds and even thousands of spectators. “The difficulty comes with the simple fact that athletics are out there for everybody to see and everybody to critique,” said Costantini.
Another thing Costantini may not miss are rainy spring days, which can force postponements and wreak havoc with schedules. “Rainy days and Mondays, they always got you down,” he said.
So, what does Costantini enjoy most about the job he is leaving?
“The kids,” he said. “The kids were the best, they really were, and to really watch them progress from the start of the season to the end of it.”
Costantini said returning for this six-month stint “has been a real pleasure.” He said he never had a secretary before, but the athletic secretary, Joan Dinizio, has “been a godsend.”
In Costantini’s honor, the school district plans to name the Greenport High School baseball field Robert Costantini Field.
Costantini said he will continue working part-time in the pro shop at Island’s End Golf and Country Club as well as remain active by walking, bike riding and playing golf.
Caliendo, 57, said Costantini has been a help to him during this transition phase, which must be strange for him. He is retiring from a 34-year teaching career, 26 in Brentwood. Caliendo has also coached boys lacrosse, football and wrestling over the years at schools including Eastport/South Manor, Westhampton Beach, New Hyde Park, Newfield and St. Anthony’s. Caliendo also started the Eastport/South Manor boys lacrosse program, and was the Sharks varsity team’s first coach in 2004. This will be his first job as an athletic director.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Going from a school district that has some 16,000 students to a small school that includes students from kindergarten through 12th grade will be a change for Caliendo. His initial impressions of Greenport, he said, have been positive.
“I don’t want to get too excited, but every time I go there, the people are so nice, the kids are so nice,” he said. “I just hope it stays that way. It seems like a nice caring place. From what I’ve seen, there’s a lot of camaraderie among the kids.”
Does Caliendo have any planned changes in the works?
“I’m just getting a feel for everything,” he said during a phone interview from his home. “I think they do a great job out there. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel.”
Costantini, asked if he has any advice to offer Caliendo, said, “Just pay attention to detail and sometimes expect the unexpected because it’s coming.”