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Track Coach Dismissed, Students Plan to Speak Out

Anthony SanFilippo said he is not sure why, after seven years, he was not asked to continue coaching in Montville.

sophomore Alex Rodgers said the upcoming track season will not be the same without former assistant coach Anthony SanFilippo.

"I can't imagine track without him," he said.

After seven years of coaching in the district, SanFilippo's contract was not renewed for the upcoming school year. SanFilippo said he is not exactly sure why, but a group of students and parents are planning to ask the during Tuesday night's board meeting.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Fried said he is unable to comment on the reasoning behind the non-renewal of the contract, as it is a personnel issue.

SanFilippo, 33, said Monday he is upset by the district's decision and, as a resident and Montville Township High School graduate, he had hoped to continue on with the district for as long as he could.

"My goal was going to be to never leave Montville," he said. "I started here, I wanted to finish here."

While Montville Township High School Principal Doug Sanford referred all personnel questions to Dr. Fried, SanFilippo said he had received a negative performance review last year from Athletic Director Paul Pignatello. He said he provided a rebuttal to the review, but had heard rumors as early as February that his contract would not be renewed. SanFilippo said he was "not surprised" to learn Friday that the district would not be offering him a new contract.

Still, SanFilippo said he is proud of what he has achieved for the district, including coaching an All-American athlete and often taking on additional tasks that he feels other coaches would not have done. Head track coach Mark Philhower also said SanFilippo has been a positive influence on the district's track program.

"He's been an absolutely phenomenal, positive thing for our program," he said.

Philhower said SanFilippo fundraised for the program, created a new organization for throwers and put a "tremendous amount of energy" into the sport at the high school.

"The 'team' feeling got stronger because of Anthony," Philhower said.

SanFilippo is a full-time salesman, but he said his profession allowed him the flexibility to coach part-time with the district. Coaching is a true passion of his and he said not knowing whether he would be asked to coach again in Montville until last week has put him at a disadvantage for finding another coaching job. SanFilippo also noted that his $7,000-per season stipend is not what is most important to him.

"I don't care about the money, I'll coach for free," he said.

Philhower also said SanFilippo often spent his own money on opportunities for the kids without asking to be reimbursed.

"Anthony was the kind of guy where if he could help out, he would," he said.

Leslie Rodgers, Alex Rodgers' mother, said she is disappointed that SanFilippo will not be coaching her son, or other track participants, this year. She said SanFilippo's specialty coaching abilities in throwing and willingness to go "above and beyond" set him above other coaches and she feels the district will have a difficult time finding a coach like SanFilippo.

"Another coach is not going to, during the summer, take kids to these different events that lead up to the on their own money," she said.

Alex Rodgers said SanFilippo helped him win shot put competitions with his knowledge and experience and that even his personality was appreciated by the students.

"I think he's just an awesome guy," he said.

Leslie Rodgers said her son and some of the students who plan to speak at Tuesday's meeting have hope that they can convince the board to reverse their decision and to continue with SanFilippo. As a parent though, Rodgers said she has "less hope."

The Montville Township Public Schools Board of Education will be meeting with the public Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the municipal building on Changebridge Road.

Montville327 August 21, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Yet another prime example of Paul Pignatello's axe grinding tactics. How did this man survive running Coach Galliger out of town?
John August 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Anthony & Kristen will be missed, their dedication to the kids and the sport is unrivaled. Again, Montville's loss will be another schools gain.
Andie August 21, 2012 at 12:04 PM
He was a wonderful coach to my son. Best wishes to you, dear coach!
Rosie August 21, 2012 at 02:05 PM
"Not allowed to speak of it" by the Superintendent of Schools? REALLY???? The parents, children and residents of this town, paying your salaries, deserve to know the exact reason for the assistant coache's not being reinstated. Is it Politics? If so, no surprise in this town. Is it something even worse than politics? Well we definitely deserve to know the reason for all of this. Who is the BOE to hold back on letting us know the facts? We ALL deserve to know so come "clean".
Jennifer August 21, 2012 at 02:11 PM
What a shame! I went to high school with Anthony and he is such a great person I would be honored to have him work and coach my kids. This town really has gone down Hill power and politics is what it's all about montville use to be a great place to live, I am very sad to hear this news. Exceptional people are hard to find and it will be a big loss to loose Anthony.
Alum August 21, 2012 at 03:03 PM
This is absolutely absurd. Pignatello is an embarrassment to this town and HE should be the one dismissed. He turns a blind eye to coaches who encourage bullying and lack the skills to coach but he gets rid of one who clearly deserves to keep his position. Anthony was my coach for two years and I value my time with him and respect him FAR more than the soccer coach I had for four years and had to fight this ignorant athletic director to get rid of.
Tom August 21, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I will be writing to the Board as this is absolutely ridiculous.
Tom August 21, 2012 at 04:04 PM
http://montville.patch.com/articles/track-coach-emphasizes-coaching-the-individual Sounds like a terrible guy... (sarcasm)
Montville327 August 21, 2012 at 04:42 PM
"Pig" is the terrible guy. Take a look at what he did in his last school: http://ind.gmnews.com/news/2002-11-27/Front_page/050.html
James P. Page August 21, 2012 at 05:27 PM
What a shame, it will always be stupid adults that ruin it for the kids each and every time. Montville's loss will be another school systems gain.
Tom August 21, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Additionally, as a former 2 sport athlete at MTHS I do not think I have ever seen Pignatello attend any of my competition events.
Concerned Athlete August 21, 2012 at 06:58 PM
This is absolutely ridiculous, Anthony is a fantastic dedicated coach who loves the sport. His passion for Track and Field can not me rivaled. He helps athletes accomplish dreams and goals they never thought possible. Montville needs to come to the realization that the one who needs to be let go is the Pig. The athletic director has no clue what he is doing. He is only behind the coaches who he prefers, which tend to be advocates of bullying. Anthony helps his athletes to every ability he can on the field. Anthony is an amazing coach and deserves to coach at Montville High School.
Montville family August 21, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Time for Athletic Director Pignatello to go! Only Montville taxpayers and their families can accomplish this. Let's all put pressure on The Superintendant and The BOE. Call or email letters voicing your disappointment. I for one will do so.
Concerned Parent August 21, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I completely agree, they are getting rid of the wrong guy. Anthony is a good coach and even better person who cares deeply about the kids. It is a shame that he is being "let go" by this guy of all people. The BOE is making a huge mistake, but of course they are not smart enough to even recognize it.
Concerned Parent August 21, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Thanks for sharing that. I guess we now know this guys MO. He needs to go and quickly.
Concerned Parent August 21, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Never.
Tom August 21, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I think I've actually only met him once...
Parent of Athlete August 21, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Why doesn't everyone stop blaming the Athletic Director and start blaming the Board of Education in this town. We have sub standard athletics because our budget does not allow us to pay for good coaches. In addition the board in this town could give a hoot about ahtletics. Let's face it the facilites are sub par for this #1 Town we live in. Also, there is so much more to this story. Everything is not always what it seems. Why don't you ask the people directly affected by Coach Anthony......always 2 sides to a story wake up Montville. Lastly, Gerry Gallagher was never RUN out of town he chose to leave. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!
Tom August 21, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Sounds like you can fill us in on details that evidently aren't openly accessible to the rest of the public
Parent August 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I have no idea about the track coach as none of my kids are involved with track. They are involved with many other sports and those who say the AD does not attend the school's sporting events are either blind or do not attend themselves. I see him regularly at many - home and away games; in addition to other events where our school's kids are honored, after hours, weekends and state games located all over NJ. Maybe he is doing his job in a quiet and classy manner. The comment above about the BOE's ineptness is on point - just look at our football field. The BOE is the problem here in Montville with respect to HS athletics.
Tom August 21, 2012 at 10:27 PM
We can agree to disagree. My comment was a simple observation that I have made during my time at MTHS. Maybe he was there, I don't know. Regardless, his presence was not known to me and quite frankly, I think it should have been. As an AD, you should make your presence known.
Nancy Sergeant August 22, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Dozens of kids and their parents spoke on behalf of Coach Anthony SanFilippo at the board meeting tonight about this wonderful coach who truly only has the kids in mind. I don't think Mr. Pignatello was there. How do we get the transcripts of tonight's comments into the hands of the people who can review this matter and hopefully overturn it asap. The kids don't have time to spare.
Michael Daly August 22, 2012 at 03:37 AM
As an avid follower of NJ High School track. I went to the meeting out of pure intrigue this evening. My reaction:His pupils truly love him, the parents of the kids have nothing but admiration and respect for him, and his Fellow coaches and peers are just flat out dumbfounded by the decision. Mr. Sanfilippo is one of the best Throws coaches in the State, and I have a hard time beleiving he could be let go because of his performance. I got the impression that this was a political assasination. Montville just lost a NCAA Division 1 caliper coach. The Bobby Hurley type who stays with young kids to make a difference in their lives even though he could further his career at a higher level. ... and if this was politically driven then shame on Montviille and its administration.
Nick Golowko August 22, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Coach Anthony has been my coach for three years now and I can tell you that I was definitely one of the people who was affected by him. He has made me a stronger and more competitive athlete. He has done everything that he possibly can do to make each and every one of his athletes throw at their potential. He has shown me what it is like to have a true passion in something. If you have something to share please do because not one person said anything poorly about him at the Board of Education meeting tonight.
Montville327 August 22, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Nancy, I could not make the meeting last night but I did hear from a parent who was there that the "Pig" in his usual classless left, did not bother to attend. I don't know if the BOE provides transcripts of the meet, however I do know that they are aired on TV the Saturday after every meeting. I forget what channel its on, but the info is on the town website.
Annunciata Kirk August 25, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Could you tell me what was the point of this meeting on Tuesday If the Board of Education is unable to overturn Mr. Pignatello's decision after such overwhelming support for Coach Anthony from parents, current and former athletes. Why do we have such a powerless BOE? By the way Dr. Fried do you have any power either as the Superintendent of school? If it is the case we should dissolve the Board and ask the Superintendent to resign... Apparently Mr. Pignatello runs the show...Watch out Montville good teachers and good coaches seem like an endangered specie in Town.
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