Vinny Alversa, Longtime Coach, Honored at Springs Homecoming

The chief honoree at that school’s first-ever homecoming
The honoree, at left, whose boys soccer team later that day extended its undefeated string, is working hard to make Bonac high school baseball competitive again. Jack Graves

Vinny Alversa, who has been a physical education teacher and boys soccer and baseball coach at the Springs School during the past 20 years, was the chief honoree at that school’s first-ever homecoming last Thursday, in a gym packed with about 300 students.

Whitney Reidlinger, the school’s athletic director, whose idea the homecoming pep rally was, the school’s former A.D., Mark McKee, a former phys ed teacher, John Foster, Andrew Rodriguez, East Hampton High’s junior varsity baseball coach, and Ray Wojtusiak, a Springs teacher who hopes Alversa will still be East Hampton High’s varsity baseball coach when his son, Elias, arrives at the high school six years from now, all had good things to say about their — in McKee’s and Foster’s case, former — colleague.

“Fair,” “honest,” “hard-working,” and “funny” were words that came to her mind when thinking of him, said Reidlinger. “As a coach,” she said, “Vinny demands respect from his athletes and gives them the respect they deserve in turn. He is patient and kind, and takes the time to really get to know each one of his players and what makes them tick.”

She added, “Coach Foster wishes Vinny 20 more.” It had been an honor to coach side by side with Alversa over the years, Foster told Reidlinger. 

“What I admire the most about you, Vinny,” Foster said, by way of Reidlinger, “is that you always stand up for what is right and your unbelievable work ethic. Not only are you a great coach, you are a kind and thoughtful person — a superstar.”

Rodriguez told Reidlinger that “Coach Alversa has had a strong impact on my life. He started coaching me when I was 11 years old, teaching me the fundamentals of baseball and how to love the game. Having Vinny as a role model led me into coaching. I now coach two high school sports, luckily one of them being baseball with Vinny!”

“I coached against Vinny when I was at the middle school,” Wojtusiak said during a telephone conversation over the weekend, “and could tell from the get-go that he was a great guy and a great role model as a coach. . . . He’s a great dad, a sharp baseball guy, and a pretty good soccer coach too.”

“I had him as a student from the sixth grade on, after he moved to Springs from Montauk,” McKee said Monday. “After he’d gone through the high school and college, I used to talk with him as he was coaching Babe Ruth baseball and concluded that he was very special as a coach, and that I had to get him into the school, where he’s been coaching ever since. . . . He and Henry [Meyer] are working tirelessly with these young kids to rebuild East Hampton’s baseball program. He’s just outstanding.”

Speaking of which, the under-14 baseball team that he and Meyer coach, and the under-11 team, Alversa said, in answer to a question, had recently finished at the top of the Brookhaven fall leagues.

Reidlinger said that the turnout for fall sports at Springs has been the largest in the school’s history, “with 98 kids playing [boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, and field hockey] and two of our kids [Alyssa Brabant, an eighth grader, and James Bradley, a seventh grader] up on high school varsity teams.” In Brabant’s case it’s girls swimming; in Bradley’s, it’s golf. 

Sixty-four percent of the school’s seventh and eighth graders were playing sports, Reidlinger said.

“All three teams that played that day, boys soccer, girls soccer [coached by John King], and girls tennis [coached by Alex de Havenon] won,” said the A.D. “Vinny’s team beat Pierson 8-2 to remain undefeated, girls soccer shut out Southold 1-0, and girls tennis defeated Hampton Bays 6-1. We’re combined with Montauk in girls tennis and girls soccer.”