Sewanhaka High School Indians’ varsity football head coach George Kasimatis entered his fifth year with the program with a .500 record. Which could be interpreted a few different ways, if the statistics were all that mattered.
But Katsimatis is strives to do more than score points. Kasimatis believes in showing kids how hard work pays dividends—on and off the field.
“As an athlete you go out there and grind something and when you finally accomplish it, you learn how to do it,” he said. “Now if you don’t get something in one of your classes, you grind it out. You study, study and study until you get it.”
Kasimatis led the Indians to 6-2 records in each of his first two seasons. The last two years the team has struggled, going 2-6 each year. That put Kasimatis’ record as head coach at a precariously balanced 16-16 entering the 2013 season. An opening 39-14 loss to Lynbrook tipped that balance, but the reward isn’t in the numbers.
“The most rewarding part is definitely getting to know the kids,” said Kasimatis. “We are trying to get these guys to move on in life and become good citizens, good people and one day good dads.”
Kasimatis focuses more on teaching his players the right techniques and work ethic.
“If you teach people how to do things the right way, the winning will come,” he believes. “The winning will be secondary, it will be a fall-out of what you are teaching them.”
Kasimatis buys into a popular sports-world aphorism: Hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard. During tryouts he looks for the kids with desire to play, a passion to engage and better themselves in the sport.
“Anybody that is willing and able and wants to play football I will find something for them to do,” he said. “If they are unable to play and want to be a part of the program, I will find something for them to do to help us.”
Kasimatis does hope to one day win a championship, but said the team is still in a “building mode.” And while they build the team, they’ll be building life skills—all while playing a game.
“Obviously we want to have some fun with these guys,” Kasimatis said, “and also teach them things that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”