2012-05-24 / Sports

Canarsie Football Coach Handed Walking Papers

By Jerry Del Priore

Michael Camardese ex-coach Canarsie High School Michael Camardese ex-coach Canarsie High School Not many coaches at Canarsie Educational Campus have given more to their program than Mike Camardese, who guided it’s football team for 28 years.

That’s why it came as somewhat of a surprise when school administrators let him go.

On May 7, after running four to five spring practices, school administrators gave Camardese an unsatisfactory rating, giving themselves the power to dismiss him.

However, Camardese isn’t standing by idly, appealing his “U” rating through the United Federation of Teachers.

“I’m appealing the decision with the Department of Education,” said a determined Camardese. “I am sure in the end I will be vindicated.”

Meanwhile, it could take anywhere from 6-to-8 months for the matter to be resolved, Camardese said. The job vacancy has been posted, but a replacement hasn’t been named yet. For the time being, junior varsity coach Joseph Brown is running spring practices.

Camardese said things at the school have changed since it was phased out a few years ago and converted into Canarsie Educational Campus, a group of smaller schools within the building at 1600 Rockaway Parkway. New principals were appointed in for each school and he has clashed with school administrators over an assortment of issues.

Some of those issues included limited practice time for his team; traveling accommodations to opponents’ fields; a finite amount of time spent on their own field on game days; and the firing of several volunteer assistant coaches last season.

Sources said the “U” rating was given to Camardese because he allowed alumni into the locker room on game days, and he was held accountable for assistant coaches parking in unauthorized parking spots, he said.

“They’re saying I am an unsatisfactory coach, which is ridiculous,” the longtime coach lamented. “No one has worked harder as a coach for this program. They’ve been trying to get me to retire for a while.”

Athletic director Dale Wilson could not be reached for comment, but Department of Education spokesperson Margie Feinberg issued a statement: “We cannot comment on a teacher’s personnel record. The campus has strong PSAL programs for students who attend schools there.”

The ones who get hurt the most, Camardese noted, are the kids. Of particular note, standout linebacker/ fullback Donchervel Smith has garnered interest from Division I schools such as Rutgers, Temple, Syracuse and Maine, but there’s no one now at the school to help navigate the process.

Furthermore, the sports programs at the school have taken a big hit, losing both bowling teams, the boys volleyball, the girls’ junior varsity basketball team, and even boys’ soccer, which has returned at the developmental stage.

“It’s the kids that are getting hurt by this,” said Camardese, who amassed a 190-100 record, piloted the Chiefs to four PSAL championship games — the last one in 2007 — and coached many outstanding high school players, including NFL-ers Leon Williams and Lance Schulters, and Jermaine Miles, who played in the CFL and XFL.

“We had such success with our program,” the retired physical education teacher and dean continued. “I’m not talking about wins and losses. We’ve made so many kids into productive citizens. We’ve gotten more kids into college than they ever will.”

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