MONTICELLO, NY — Monticello High School Boys Basketball Coach Christopher Russo has built up quite a following for the team on social media, where he shares the team’s highlights, …
MONTICELLO, NY — Monticello High School Boys Basketball Coach Christopher Russo has built up quite a following for the team on social media, where he shares the team’s highlights, celebrates wins and gives players shout-outs to an eager audience.
Now Russo has been named the 2020-21 New York Boys Basketball Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The award recognizes those who are leading their sport, shaping their athletes, and contributing in a positive way to their community.
Russo has coached basketball for 13 seasons, with 116 all-time wins. In that time, according to a spokesperson from the district, he has created a conduit between the sport and the community, and that has launched several philanthropic initiatives.
Those activities—such as the BCANY vs. Cancer Classic, the Slam Dunk Games, the Jingle Ball Classic and the Monticello High School Awesome Alliance—are programs that have helped support cancer and heart disease research, provided Christmas toys to children at Sullivan County Head Start, raised nearly $50,000 for the oncology unit at Garnet Health Medical Center and facilitated participation in sports for athletes of all abilities.
Russo, a news release noted, is well known for his propensity for developing meaningful connections with his players, inspiring them to be great on the court, in the classroom and in the community. The point is that athletics are a key component in the development of young men and women, teaching and reinforcing the value of commitment, hard work and sacrifice.
“While high school athletics can be a source of entertainment and school pride, it also allows participants to reach out to those in need,” Russo said. “In a variety of ways, athletics can be the means by which our student-athletes can give back to their community, promote goodwill and drive the causes that spark positive changes.”
“Coach Russo was mentored by two absolute legends in the local and state basketball community: Coach Fred Ahart and Coach Dick O’Neill,” said Kurt Buddenhagen, who nominated him for the award. “Filling those shoes was no easy task, but he is following in their footsteps and carving out his own legacy. We congratulate him on this extremely well-deserved honor.”
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