NORWOOD — New Norwood-Norfolk boys outdoor track and field coach Gino Bisceglia was updating the school’s track records display recently with sixth- graders Carson Colbert and Noah North assisting him.
As the three began to check over the records one of the boys looked at the names on the display and said, “Mr. Bisceglia, you are all over this thing!”
It’s been 12 years since Bisceglia wore a Flyers uniform, but his impact remains on the program as one of the top athletes it has ever produced. He won an indoor state championship as a senior in the 600-meter run and he recorded the best time in the entire state in the 400 outdoors during his senior year with a mark of 48.4 seconds.
Bisceglia may have won another state title in that event but with one already in his resumé he decided to end his career by having fun competing in the pentathlon, where he medaled with a sixth-place finish in Division II.
After a standout college career at SUNY Cortland, and a stint in the U.S. Army training soldiers for desert combat in California, Bisceglia has returned to the Flyers to live out another career dream, replacing his former coach Bill Dyke as the new coach of the Flyers program.
When Bisceglia was a senior he knew he wanted to be a physical education teacher somewhere, so he worked for Dyke in a school work-study program, learning all that was involved.
Dyke, who just retired last spring after 36 years and seven Section 10 titles, told Bisceglia at the time, “In about 10 years you will replace me and have both my jobs.”
Dyke was a little off, as it actually took 11 years for Bisceglia to get his shot running the program and taking over Dyke’s physical education job at the school as well.
“I would have hand-picked him, that’s as good a recommendation as you can get,” Dyke said. “Last year he worked every other day as a physical education teacher for Boces at Norwood-Norfolk. When he wasn’t teaching he would sub (at Norwood-Norfolk). He would come down and work with me with the kids. He showed me, working with me, that he would do a great job teaching and coaching. He’s a guy who would run through a wall for you. I think he’ll bring that out in the kids that run for him. His enthusiasm is infectious and it’s real, it’s not phony.
“For years after he graduated I would use him as an example, tell the kids if you could do what Gino did, he was just like you guys. He was an average kid who made himself through hard work what he is. A lot of kids try to skim by and Gino wasn’t a kid who skims by.”
Bisceglia looks the same as he did when he was on the Norwood-Norfolk track team, except for the receding hairline, and he has the same enthusiastic attitude he displayed at age 18.
“It’s different being on the other side, as a coach,” said Bisceglia, who coached the girls indoor track team in the winter. “It comes back to the kids. I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but at the end of the day they are the ones putting in the work. If I didn’t go to school to be a PE teacher I might have had a bit of a struggle (starting coaching).”
Bisceglia learned a lot running for Dyke and his term as coach could be an extension his old coach’s philosophies.
“He was pretty good about (making it fun),” Bisceglia said. “He had a good balance. You want to get a good workout and you want them to do well. Sometimes you can just have a fun day and still get a pretty good general conditioning workout. That’s one thing I remember Dyke did. We’d play floor hockey after a hard practice, just to make it not about being here to do track and field. It gave an essence of making it fun.”
Bisceglia may show up on the record board in the school hallway, but he isn’t going to brag to his team about it.
“I’m pretty proud of my achievements, I worked really hard,” Bisceglia said. “But I didn’t want to be one of those people that relives (high school), like that Bruce Springsteen song (Glory Days). I didn’t want it to define my life.”
Malone’s boys won another regular season and Section 10 championship last season and return three individual champions in Dylan Perry (3,200), Sam Dumas (steeplechase) and Trey LaGrave (pentathlon). Gouverneur was 9-1 last year and brings back Peyton Schmitt, who won the 100 title.
Potsdam won the girls regular-season title a year ago and returns individual champions Luca Pecora (400, 400 hurdles) and Sophia Janoyan (triple jump). Malone brings back shot put champion Hayley Raville.