Jerry Del Priore
After six years at the helm of the Canarsie Football team, Kyle Allen decided to step away from a program he’s been a part of for approximately twenty years, earlier in the month.
Though Allen bleeds Chiefs’ blue and white, the changes in his personal life weighed heavily on him, as he changed teaching sites from The High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media (IAM) at Canarsie to Adult Continuing Ed at Grover Cleveland High School. Plus, he lost his mother and grandmother before and during the season, respectively, which left him feeling empty.
“2017 was one of the hardest years of my life,” Allen said. “I left teaching in this building at program I helped start, that I won awards for. I had too much going on in my life to adjust to school changes.
“Once you lose your mother, and anybody that has lost their mother would understand,” he added. “Beside just a death in your family, the absence of that person, it’s different when it’s your mother. It made my whole existence feel surreal.”
Athletic director Joseph Mento, one of six ADs in the last six years at Canarsie, wished Allen nothing but success in his future endeavors.
“Mr. Allen decided to pursue other opportunities and we wish him the best of luck,” Mento wrote in an email to www.BrooklynSportsWorld.com.
In addition, Allen had several other reasons for stepping down, of which practice restrictions were among them. The early start time was a hindrance from the get go this season, he noted.
“We had a time block big enough to get in a two and half hour, two-hour and fifteen-minute practice in. But we would have to start almost right away after school,” Allen explained. “It’s hard to corral those kids coming from three or four different schools who were trying to unwind from school. But that’s part of disciplining your program. But people on the outside looking in can say that because their practices start at 4:00.
“If my practices started at 4:00, all the kids would be there, too,” he continued. “But we had to start at 2:45, when they just got at of class at 2:30, and then we must be done by 5:00, 5:15. That’s enough time to have a productive practice. But now, couple in soccer games, holidays, principal meetings, and all these different reasons why we can’t get on the field, and then the fact the kids were in class all day, they’re not going to run outside and run back in and go straight to football practice.”
In addition, a dwindling roster during his time wore him down, leaving not much recourse when it came to reprimanding his players, according to Allen.
“People always say, ‘Well, the coaches have to discipline them, punish them for being late (to practice), and punish them if they come to school late.’ And all that’s true,” the Valley Stream, Long Island resident, said. “It’s part of teaching kids, and raising them to be men.
“But they’re going to do what kids do. But if we punish kids every time, we won’t have a team,” he added. “We had a roster of 31 kids, with five or six out with injuries, leaving us with 25 to 26 kids. We competed against teams with 50, 60, 70 kids that practice whenever they want, how long they want, and if they’re missing 10 kids, they still have 40, 50 more. If we’re missing 10 kids, we’re not going to have a practice.”
Allen replaced longtime legendary coach Mike Camardese. But he said he had nothing to do with his dismissal, as he asked the coach for his blessing before accepting the job in 2011, which he did receive.
I played under Cam, I coached under Cam,” the Brooklyn native said. “Regardless of what popular belief was when he left, Cam knows, and everybody on the inside knows, not only did I not, I couldn’t have played a role in coach Cam being ousted. I’m not built like that, I’m not capable of that. I don’t have that type of power today to get rid of anybody.”
While Allen isn’t sure who will be his replacement, he believes it will be much easier for that person to coach football at Canarsie, because he’s not stepping in for someone who was there for several years. Furthermore, he said, the backing will be there, most likely.
“I’m pretty sure my successor is going to have a way easier time, because I took all the shots in the aftermath of Cam leaving. They’ll get all the support, kids, and whatever they need to succeed.”
In Allen’s time at Canarsie, the Chiefs made the playoffs twice, and he sent several players to college, including the likes of Kamari Jones, who’s a standout, full scholarship defensive player at Division II Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Plus, Darius Lancaster, a wide receiver at Division III Morrisville State in Morrisville, New York.
Now, junior Adisa Isaac, who never played any type of organized football until he entered Canarsie, is receiving all types of Division I football attention, including a standing full scholarship offer from Rutgers University, per coach Allen.
Football wasn’t the only sport Allen coached, however. He was an accomplished head track and field sprinting coach at the school, sending numerous runners to college, such as J’Amor Hercules, who went to North Texas University.
On the girls’ side, he helped groom Melissa Caddle, who excelled at Coppin State University and competed for Guyana in the 400 meters event at the 2014 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Indoor Championships. In addition, he helped mold standout Shenika King–who shined at Division I St. John’s University in Queens–into a running force.
Allen said he isn’t done with coaching, and would like to land with a burgeoning football program in the PSAL.