Lansingburgh school board votes to reinstate coach

Updated: 07/25/2014 12:13 AM
Created: 07/24/2014 9:15 AM WNYT.com
By: WNYT Staff

LANSINGBURGH - It took the Lansingburgh School Board only about 20 seconds on Thursday night to place John Cipperly back on their payroll. It was a decision that delighted the longtime soccer coach, not to mention the entire community.

After a trying and tumultuous eight-day time period for the people of Lansingburgh, the community was breathing a sigh of satisfaction knowing that Cipperly was right back where they think he belongs, pacing the spongy Astroturf on the school's soccer field, planning game strategy, and most importantly, shaping the minds of young student athletes who've had the privilege to play for him for more than three decades.

Eight days ago, it looked like Cipperly had coached his last girls varsity soccer game. After more than 275 wins, Colonial Council championships, Sectional titles, and two Coach-of-the-Year awards, the school's athletic director Mike Harkin told him the program needs to go in a new direction and he was out.

But the community rallied. Scores of angry and determined people packed Monday night's school board meeting demanding that Cipperly be reinstated.

"I guess we'll never know how much of all of that was required to get the right thing done," Cipperly said.

The school board was ready to hire Cipperly's replacement on Monday night, but after the only other candidate withdrew his name from consideration, saying he'd been receiving harassing phone calls, the school was left without a coach. With the season fast approaching, they took only about 20 seconds to rehire Cipperly.

"I won't say that there wasn't some hurt for all the people involved along the way here," Cipperly said on the steps of the district headquarters just after the vote, "But that having been said, the very best thing right now is that something very positive has now happened and we're able to move forward in a positive direction."

Cipperly, who retired as a full time teacher two years ago, says he agrees with what the district is trying to do, hire someone who is full time.

"I will always say that I agree that I think it's not impossible to coach if you're not a teacher," he said, "but I think your training as a teacher helps you to be a better coach."

Cipperly has said all along he has no problem hanging up his whistle. He knows it'll happen one day. He says there are plenty of young, capable coaches out there who are ready to take over the program. His major beef all along is the way he's been treated.

Even if there's lingering resentment in the community, Cipperly wants to make people, especially his players, learn a lesson from what's happened to him, which is why he chooses to take the high road.

"I can say that there really are a lot of good things that happen in the district and yes this administration and the board of education are very much responsible for a lot of good things and nobody should forget that," he says.

Cipperly, understandably delighted to have his job back, reiterates he doesn't want this season to be about him. He says there are four seniors on the team, and this should be their "going out party," not his.

The first practice is Aug. 18.


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