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Wantagh Residents Speak Up For Football Coach at School Board Meeting

Community seeks answers from district on decision to not bring Keith Sachs back for 20th season.

The Auditorium was packed for Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting with vocal supporters of the district’s longtime varsity football head coach Keith Sachs speaking out in opposition to a decision to not bring him back next year.

The Board of Education recently decided to not re-appoint Sachs to a 20th season leading the Wantagh football team causing many of his past and current players and athletic supporters in the community to demand answers on why this decision was reached. Three days prior to Thursday's meeting, over two dozen Wantagh High School students in support of the school's longtime football coach.

Wantagh Superintendent Dr. Lydia Bagley stated during the meeting that specifics for why Sachs was not re-appointed, as with any personnel decision, can not be shared with the public.

“Although this was a difficult decision and some community reaction was anticipated, the decision remains firm,” said Dr. Begley. “The Board of Education has given careful and considerable deliberation to this decision.”

Sachs has gone 109-66-1 in his 19 seasons as Wantagh football head coach including capturing a Long Island Class III title in 2001 and a Nassau County championship in 2004. Sachs has also been Wantagh’s head baseball coach since 1994 and led the Warriors to a state title in 1998 and Long Island championship in 2010. The school board’s decision does not impact Sachs coaching baseball or his job as a physical education teacher at Wantagh High School.

Prior to the meeting, 2006 Wantagh High School graduate Brian Bock was collecting petitions in the front entrance of the school asking for Sachs to be reinstated as varsity football coach. Bock, who played football and baseball for Coach Sachs, said he collected 150 online prior to the meeting.

“Coach Sachs is the best coach I have ever had,” said Bock. “He is the most influential person I’ve ever had at this high school.”

Wantagh senior Ryan Sliwak, who played football and baseball for Sachs, gave an emotional speech during the public comments portion of the meeting about his coach’s impact as a father figure. Sliwak lost his father in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 just days before his eighth birthday.

“I can’t put into words what he has done for me,” said Sliwak “I feel like I’m losing my dad once again.”

Sliwak was one of many speakers to take to the podium and urge the school board to reconsider its decision.

“I think you guys are making a huge mistake,” said Scott Matson, who played baseball for Sachs. “This decision needs to be revisited.”

Dr. Begley said the open Wantagh football head coaching position has been posted online with the district’s website and Nassau County Section VIII. She said applicants will be reviewed in the next two weeks and the district hopes to have a decision soon on who will be Wantagh’s football coach next season.

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