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Athletic Director

Danielle Turner was previously the assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place. File photo from Danielle Turner

Athletics in the Port Jefferson School District reached unprecedented heights during the last few school years, and now one of the people who oversaw part of the rise is moving on.

Danielle Turner, the district’s director of physical education, health, athletics and nurses since 2016 will not be returning to the district this fall. She said in an email she had accepted a similar position in the Locust Valley School District.

“I would like to thank the board of education, district staff, students and this great community for taking a chance on me as a new AD,” Turner said. “I am confident that the tools, knowledge, and skillset I’ve acquired here in Port Jefferson will serve me well at my new home in Locust Valley, and throughout my career. Port Jefferson will always have a special little place in my heart, and I could not be more thankful that my career has led me through it.”

During her time with the Royals, the girls varsity basketball and soccer teams each reached New York State championship rounds, with the soccer team bringing home its second straight trophy in 2016. It was the team’s third straight appearance in the finals. The basketball team fell just short in the 2017 title game, though it was the first time it had won a county crown since 1927. Quarterback Jack Collins broke numerous school records and became the first football player in school history to be named League IV Most Valuable Player. The wrestling team went undefeated and won the League VIII championship during the current school year. Shane DeVincenzo put Port Jeff’s golf program on the map, winning the Suffolk County individual title in 2017.

Turner was the assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place prior to taking the position in Port Jeff. She received her first teaching and coaching positions at Longwood Middle School, where she was a physical education teacher and varsity volleyball coach from 2008-12, while also coaching lacrosse and basketball at different levels. She later served as assistant principal at Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Premm Learning Center and Sayville Academic Center.

While at Port Jeff, she was known for attending nearly every sporting event, posting updates on social media and serving as a promoter of the district’s athletes.

Superintendent Paul Casciano wished Turner well in her new endeavor in an email.

“We’ll miss her energy and vision,” he said. “We thank her for her contributions to our successes over the past two years.”

The district will conduct a search for a new athletic director.

Humbled, dedicated leader immediately credits students and staff

Mount Sinai's 18-year athletic director Scott Reh hugs former girls lacrosse star Sydney Pirreca following a championship win. Photo from Scott Reh

Don’t ask Scott Reh to talk about it, but he’s been named athletic director of the year by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

As the news spread throughout Mount Sinai school district, and when boys track and field coach Bill Dwyer and his team stopped in the middle of the hallway to clap for Reh, he simply turned around and said, “Thanks to you and your team — you helped me earn this honor.”

“Here we are recognizing him, and right away he turns it around on us,” Dwyer said, laughing. “It made him feel good, and the kids recognize he earned the distinction, but that’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Mount Sinai athletic director Scott Reh with girls lacrosse head coach Al Bertolone. Photo from Scott Reh

Reh, a natural deflector when it comes to taking any credit for the continued strength of the Mount Sinai program since he was named athletic director in 2000, added another notch to his belt, having previously been inducted into the Rocky Point, Adelphi University and Suffolk County sports halls of fame.

“It was very humbling,” said Reh, who graduated from Rocky Point in 1985 and Adelphi in 1989, and was an All-American lacrosse player at both schools. “I’m very appreciative that my peers voted for me for this award. It’s a great honor.”

Reh is the first full-time athletic director in Mount Sinai’s history, also overseeing health, nursing, security and grounds.

On his first day at school, Reh held a meeting with instructors, including head football coach Vinnie Ammirato, who has been with the program since 1996. Ammirato said Reh’s words and actions immediately struck him.

“That first day I knew we had someone in place who understood the value of athletics, and would be willing to help us however he could,” Ammirato said. “His passion for athletics and his desire to see us succeed is what impressed me the most.”

To get the Mount Sinai facilities up to snuff, Reh advocated for the gyms and weight rooms to get a face-lift and also worked to add several sports teams, like lacrosse.

“We’ve been very, very successful over the years — we’ve had national, state and county championships,” Reh said. “All of our teams are very competitive because of the time they and the coaches put in.”

The athletic director is known for putting in his own time. He’s the vice president of the Rocky Point board of education for starters, and even when visiting his twin sons to watch their lacrosse games at University at Albany, he’ll book a hotel just to crash for a few hours before hitting the road to make it back to school in time.

“Sports have always been in my life, but my goal isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about giving kids the best opportunity to succeed.”

— Scott Reh

“We tell him to take a few hours, come late, but he never listens,” said board of education member Peter Van Middelem. “He’s a professional. He cares about every student, athlete or not, and we’re fortunate to have him. He’s on top of everything.”

Van Middelem, who first met Reh in 2008 and joined the board in 2014, has seen the Rocky Point resident’s care and concern firsthand, saying it even goes beyond athletics. When he traveled with the girls lacrosse team up to the state championship game, to see his daughters Meaghan and Emma play, the athletic director ensured the hotel was booked and there were restaurant options from which to choose. After the girls won, Reh was making phone calls to the fire department and had signs made on the fly to give the Mustangs a proper welcome home. His efforts even extend past his own teams. When there was a case of bedbugs at a hotel his and other students were staying at during a state tournament, he called to get new arrangements made, also aiding West Islip in the switchover, whose athletic director wasn’t present.

Mount Sinai Booster Club president Diane Tabile has also seen the athletic director go above and beyond in generosity with his time. She said she has seen him popping in and out of games, whether late after school or on weekends. This past Saturday, he was upstate watching the wrestling squad take home the first
Division II state title.

High school principal Rob Grable, who was a varsity football assistant and middle school baseball coach when Reh was first hired, said the athletic director has been in everyone’s shoes along the way. Reh was an All-County player who was named MVP during a state championship soccer game his senior season. That year he was presented with the Ray Enners Award, given to the best lacrosse player in Suffolk County, and he finished that year with the most points in state history. He went on to become a lacrosse and soccer coach at New Hyde Park and was an assistant for Stony Brook University’s men’s lacrosse team.

Scott Reh, a longtime Rocky Point resident, is all vice president of the Rocky Point school board. Photo from Scott Reh

“He knows what programs need, he knows how to take programs to the next level and he’s always got the kids in the back of his mind when making his decisions, so you can’t go wrong with that,” Grable said. “But the biggest thing about Scott is he’s all about the kids, and everyone knows that. I don’t think anyone is omnipresent but if there is anyone that’s close to that it’s him.”

Reh’s office is known for always being open, and students and staff are frequently seen cycling through. His coaches not only consider him a mentor but also a close friend.

“I’ve taught and coached at multiple schools and Scott raises the bar high, he’s the best of the best,” said head girls lacrosse coach Al Bertolone, who has been teaching lacrosse at Mount Sinai since 2008. “When you work for somebody like that you will always go above and beyond for him, because that’s what he does for you. He’s a great, great leader, a community guy, he’s selfless and he keeps everyone in constant communication. He’s really created a tradition of excellence.”

The reason Reh doesn’t take the credit is because for him, it’s about recognition for the programs and kids, not his own. His father, George Reh, was a 30-year physical education teacher and head track and field coach at Newfield. The Mount Sinai athletic director said he learned from his dad’s example.

“Sports have always been in my life, but my goal isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about giving kids the best opportunity to succeed,” Scott Reh said. “I love seeing them grow into young men and women who are mature, responsible and dedicated. You learn a lot about a student through athletics, and I think life’s lessons are taught through athletics, so I love being a part of that.”

Danielle Turner, who is currently the assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place, will take over July 1

Danielle Turner was previously the assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place. File photo from Danielle Turner

A new athletic director has entered the kingdom.

After an extensive search, Port Jefferson school district hired Danielle Turner to be the new face of Royals athletics, taking the helm on July 1 and replacing Edward Cinelli, who has served as interim athletic director since former leader Deb Ferry left in December.

“I’m super excited to get in there and start,” Turner said. “Being an athletic director has always been my goal. It’s a small community, a very supportive community. I think for me Port Jefferson is the perfect fit.”

The Sayville resident and Farmingdale native is the assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School in Miller Place, a role she took after first applying for the athletic director position there. She will follow former assistant principal Robert Neidig to Port Jefferson, who himself left Miller Place to become the principal at Port Jefferson Middle School.

North Country Road Principal Matt Clark said Turner will do a phenomenal job for the Royals.

“She did a really nice job of acclimating right to our culture and I could tell right away she had tremendous initiative,” he said. “We were very impressed when she stepped in and became a big part of the fabric of what we do. She’s done a great job of team building within teachers and she’s also done a really nice job of supervision of both faculty and staff. We’re really proud of her.”

After graduating from Sachem, Turner received a bachelor of science degree in physical education from SUNY Cortland. She followed that up with a master’s in athletic administration and coaching from Stony Brook University, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational administration and supervision from St. John’s University. She also holds certification in the areas of the Dignity for All Students Act, crisis prevention intervention and first aid, and is a certified personal trainer.

Danielle Turner will take over as athletic director at Port Jefferson on July 1. Photo from Port Jefferson school district
Danielle Turner will take over as athletic director at Port Jefferson on July 1. Photo from Port Jefferson school district

Turner received her first teaching and coaching positions at Longwood Middle School, where she was a physical education teacher and varsity volleyball coach from 2008-12, while also coaching lacrosse and basketball at different levels. She later served as assistant principal at Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Premm Learning Center and Sayville Academic Center.

“I went from teaching phys ed with sixth-graders to being a special education assistant principal, which was extremely difficult but also was just a great learning experience for me in terms of the types of students that I dealt with,” Turner said in an interview.

David Falco, a physical education teacher at Sachem North and the school’s varsity football coach, instructed Turner when she was on the girls’ basketball team there. He said his former athlete was a dedicated, tough inside player. As a SUNY Cortland alumnus, he was an integral part of her college discussion.

“She has a love of sports and kids, she has a great rapport with parents and the other administrators in the building, and I’ve seen her interact with all of those groups in a very positive way,” he said. “I think the sky is the limit for Danielle in regard to athletic administration, and I think that’s because of the way she approaches all the different tasks she has — and that’s because of her work ethic.”

Turner, who is also making waves as a female boys’ basketball referee, said she’s thankful for those like Lisa Lally and Deb Ferry, Miller Place and Port Jefferson’s former longtime athletic directors, for paving the way for females.

“I owe it all to them,” she said. “They’ve been super supportive and helpful, and excelled and thrived in the position.”

She thinks Port Jefferson is the perfect place for her because of its small, intimate setting, and said she was excited to learn that the athletic office was within the high school.

”Port Jeff obviously has a great reputation academically, so I definitely keep up with that reputation while getting a feel of the land,” she said. “I want to continue with producing quality student-athletes and ultimately improve upon those programs in whatever way we can. I am again just so thrilled to be able to see the kids in action, and get out there at games supporting our kids.”

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By Elana Glowatz

A hall-of-fame coach will step in as the Port Jefferson school athletic director when longtime leader Deb Ferry leaves in the new year.

Debra Ferry helped establish the lacrosse program at Port Jefferson and has led its other teams to success. File photo
Debra Ferry helped establish the lacrosse program at Port Jefferson and has led its other teams to success. File photo

The board of education appointed Ed Cinelli as interim director of health, physical education and athletics on Dec. 8, about a month after accepting Ferry’s resignation. Cinelli, who was inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 for his work as an educator and a coach, will fill her spot and help the school district find a permanent replacement.

The incoming director spent 30 years in the Patchogue-Medford school district, serving as the athletic director for more than half of that time. Before taking on that administrative role, while still teaching physical education there, he coached football and track — including a 1982 spring track team that, according to the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, “was recognized at that time as one of the best track teams in the history of New York.”

He has also served as the executive director of Section XI, the regional organization under the umbrella of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

“We are very excited to have Mr. Cinelli serve in this position while the search for a new director commences,” Superintendent Ken Bossert said in a statement after the Dec. 8 board meeting. “His vast experience and wealth of knowledge within the areas of health, physical education and athletics will be a great asset to our students, staff and district.”

Until Port Jefferson has a long-term replacement, Cinelli will have a substantial pair of cleats to fill. Ferry, who has been athletic director for nine years, has been credited with establishing the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams and is known for being anywhere and everywhere the students are playing.

“The kids are sometimes surprised to see her at games, especially making the hike all the way upstate for big playoff competitions, but she was there,” said Rod Cawley, the boys’ cross country and track and field coach. “In my 32 years at Port Jefferson, she’s been our best athletic director. She’s very honest, she’s supportive and she’s fair.”

Cawley said in a previous interview that when the girls’ soccer team won the state title this year for the first time in program history, Ferry was at the final game upstate — and also went to a cross country competition that same weekend.

“I kept busting her chops, telling her I’m not letting her go,” he said with a laugh.

Another coach, Mike Maletta, who heads the wrestling team and has taught in Port Jefferson for 23 years, said that Ferry was always at his squad’s state tournaments.

“You could see her walking around with a camera around her neck, taking pictures,” he said in an earlier interview. “A lot of those pictures make it to the end-of-the-year senior awards banquet and it went above and beyond what a lot of athletic directors do. She was always there supporting our program and those pictures meant a lot.”

Ferry will remain in her role as the Section XI first vice president when she takes the helm of the Half Hollow Hills athletic program, but her other roles within the organization will change because her new, larger district is in a different conference. She said in a previous interview that she will miss the people and the atmosphere at Port Jefferson.

“The intimacy of a small school district and knowing the kids is definitely a benefit,” she said. “The coaches and players make you feel like you’re part of the team.”

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Athletic director Debra Ferry leaves Port Jefferson after nine years

Deb Ferry volunteers at Miracle League with athlete Brittany Fox. Photo from Ferry

A new year will also bring a new athletic director to Port Jefferson.

After nine years, Debra Ferry is leaving the school district to tackle the athletic department at Half Hollow Hills.

Debra Ferry helped establish the lacrosse program at Port Jefferson and has led its other teams to success. File photo
Debra Ferry helped establish the lacrosse program at Port Jefferson and has led its other teams to success. File photo

“I’m excited and nervous,” Ferry said. “It’s surreal. I established a lot of close relationships and friendships here in Port Jefferson and I’m going to miss the people that I work with. The teachers and the coaches are top-notch; they’re dedicated and compassionate. I love Port Jefferson, but I’m ready to move on and expand my career.”

The Port Jefferson Board of Education accepted the resignation of Ferry at its Nov. 10 meeting, effective Jan. 3. Board President Kathleen Brennan thanked her for her service at the meeting.

Superintendent Ken Bossert also thanked her when reached by phone this week, and wished her luck in her new position.

“I think she did an excellent job being visible within the school community and being a top supporter of our student-athletes,” he said. “We wish her well in all her endeavors. I’m sure she’ll be a great success, and we hope to find someone as committed to Port Jefferson as Debra was.”

Because the school district is small, everyone knew who Ferry was and she had the opportunity to know every student-athlete out on the Royals’ field. Ferry even attended most of the games.

“The kids are sometimes surprised to see her at games, especially making the hike all the way upstate for big playoff competitions, but she was there,” said Rod Cawley, the boys’ cross country and track and field coach. “In my 32 years at Port Jefferson, she’s been our best athletic director. She’s very honest, she’s supportive and she’s fair.”

Originally a teacher, working in Manhattan for one year and in the Bronx for two before becoming a physical education teacher at Northport in 1999 — while also coaching the varsity field hockey program and working as an assistant for the girls’ lacrosse team — Ferry wasn’t sure administration was the route she wanted to take, but soon changed her mind. After looking for positions, she found an opening at Port Jefferson, where she built the foundations of an ever-growing program and learned the ins and outs of the position.

Among her numerous accolades, she was the 2008 Athletic Director of the Year for Eastern Suffolk County Hoops for Hearts and was a Port Times Record Person of the Year in 2012.

“I love athletics,” she said. “I love the kids on the field and sports and the rules and regulations. The intimacy of a small school district and knowing the kids is definitely a benefit.”

Another benefit was learning how to manage her time, juggling her duties as athletic director, attending games and being the 1st vice president for Section XI, among her other responsibilities and roles as a member of many of the section’s committees.

Athletic Director Deb Ferry snapped this photo of Port Jefferson wrestler Matteo DeVincenzo pinning an opponent.
Athletic Director Deb Ferry snapped this photo of Port Jefferson wrestler Matteo DeVincenzo pinning an opponent.

“It’s a lot of commitment and it’s about prioritizing,” Ferry said. “Being on the field is important to me, not just to show support for Port Jeff but to show support to all of the kids. I see them in the halls the next day and it’s fun to talk about the games with them. Every year is different, every team is different, but the success of the athletics here is all about the coaches and the students.”

The Royals experienced such success this fall, when the girls’ soccer team took home the school’s first state championship title in that sport. Ferry was at the game, and also attended a cross-country competition the same weekend, according to Cawley.

“Going up to states, I felt like I was part of the state championship team,” Ferry said. “The kids make you feel very welcomed and supported. It’s rewarding.”

Although it will be different in the bigger Half Hollow Hills school district, with two middle schools and two high schools, Ferry is looking forward to the new chapter.

For the coaches she leaves behind, it’s bittersweet.

“I kept busting her chops, telling her I’m not letting her go,” Cawley said, laughing. “But I want her to do the best she can do and achieve whatever she wants to achieve and be wherever she would be happy.”

Mike Maletta, a wrestling coach who has been a teacher at the school for 23 years, said he will miss Ferry, who he called a stable force for the program she helped build, including helping to establish the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams.

Maletta saw the effects of Ferry’s leadership firsthand, especially with his wrestlers.

“Every time I was at the state tournament with my wrestlers, you could see her walking around with a camera around her neck, taking pictures,” he said. “A lot of those pictures make it to the end-of-the-year senior awards banquet and it went above and beyond what a lot of athletic directors do. She was always there supporting our program and those pictures meant a lot.”

He also said she was a big help in staying all day to be an announcer and handle paperwork at the team’s Bob Armstrong Memorial Tournament.

The Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team admires their plaque after winning the state championship this fall. File photo by Andrew Wakefield
The Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team admires their plaque after winning the state championship this fall. File photo by Andrew Wakefield

“That right there will be a huge loss for me,” he said. “She was there making sure everything was done, because during the day, I’m all over the place and it’s nice having someone there helping out the program. There’s a comfort level with having someone you’ve known for nine years, and her leaving is really going to affect me.”

Ferry will remain Section XI’s vice president, but other roles will change, as her new school district is in a different conference. She will also remain involved with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association as the female representative for Section XI.

The outgoing athletic director said it’s been nice to feel appreciated and recognized for the job that she’s done, but feels most proud of the kids and the coaches for the working relationships everyone had and for making her feel supported.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have developed professionally at Port Jefferson,” she said. “I hope I left a mark here. … I am part of the program, but I feel it’s more than that. That’s the benefit to working in Port Jefferson. The coaches and players make you feel like you’re part of the team.”

Former Smithtown East head coach Peter Melore will be Ward Melville’s new athletic director. Photo from Three Village Central School District

Former Smithtown East football coach Peter J. Melore will be the Three Village Central School District’s new, permanent executive director of health, physical education, recreation and athletics. He will replace Nicholas Schroeder, who served the district on an interim basis since the start of the school year.

Throughout his professional tenure, Melore has also worked as a coach at both the high school and middle school levels. In the role of head varsity football coach, he guided Smithtown High School East to the Big Four Championship in 2012 and 2014, as well as the playoffs in 2013. He had similar success when he was the assistant varsity football coach at Farmingdale High School, during which he accumulated 11 Big Four championships, 10 finals showings, five county championships, one Long Island championship and one Rutgers Cup trophy and was named the 2007 Nassau County Assistant Coach of the Year.

Melore comes to the Three Village district from Roslyn school district, has more than 23 years of experience in the field of health education and athletics. He began his career as a middle school physical education teacher in Farmingdale school district and also served in that district as a building and district leader for internship projects as well as lead teacher. His most recent role was as Roslyn’s director of physical education, health, intramurals, athletics and recreation.

Melore earned his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from SUNY Cortland, Master of Arts in Physical Education from Adelphi University and Educational Leadership Program certificate from Dowling College. Additionally, he renews his CPR and First Aid certifications annually.

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