When Grady head coach Andrew Jashyn started the football program at the high school in 2002, it was the first time the Coney Island, Brooklyn, school ever had one.
Last week, 20 years later, Jashyn hit the 100-victory milestone mark when the Falcons beat host Tilden, 36-8.
It is not like Grady plays a ton of games each campaign. This year, the Falcons (3-4) hit the field for seven regular season conference games, and two non-league contests. So, Grady has to make most of each season as far as wins go.
Furthermore, it is fair to say that the majority of student-athletes who play Falcon football are raw talent.
In fact, well known PSAL football insider and former host of On the Sidelines radio show Vinny Aceto put it best when said that Jashyn “has done more with less.”
During his 20-year coaching span, Jashyn took Grady to three PSAL championships, winning a Cup crown in 2005. Additionally, he helped a former player, Anthony Mella, earn a spot on DIII SUNY Morrisville’s roster and subsequently a six-to-seven-year professional Polish football career.
Jashyn said he wasn’t aware of nearing the 100-win mark before the season started. But assistant coach Adam Engerow informed him of the impending achievement.
However, things did not start off as planned for the Falcons, questioning if this would be the year that he reached the milestone.
“I didn’t know, but my assistant coach did,” Jashyn said. “He told me that we needed three wins. Then, we lost the first two games. I thought we would have to wait to next year, but we didn’t.”
Once the Long Island resident reached the mark, he said it brought back fond memories of roaming the sidelines of countless high school fields, and all of the student-athletes that he helped guide in three different decades as the bench boss at Grady.
“I started to think of all of the players that I’ve coached, and then it hit me,” he said. “It was surreal. I am very proud of that (100-win) number.”
Jashyn said that several of his former players did not have aspirations to suit up at the next level. They just wanted to learn and play football while enjoying themselves. But he did say that they picked up valuable life lessons that extended far beyond the gridiron.
“After 20 years, I have a lot of kids that went on to success. We have a lot of successful businessmen, kids making 200,00 a year,” Jashyn, a physical education teacher, proudly said. “I am proud to coach football but being part of their success has been the best part.”
But Jashyn said he did not accomplish the 100-win feat alone, often receiving vital help and feedback from a group of great coaches over the years, always keeping an open ear to his football staff.
“The head coach makes the final decision, but I like to listen to everyone,” he explained. “Why have assistants when you don’t listen to them?”
And his hard-nosed coaching style has been softened just a bit over the 20 years, allowing his players more leeway and recovery time before jumping back into the fire.
“I’m a little more understanding now,” Jashyn said. “When I was younger, it was smashmouth. I’ve learned that rest, relaxation and understanding go a long way. Sometimes, a pat on the back works better than a sledgehammer.”
As for giving up the coaching reigns in the near future, Jashyn said someone will have to rip it from his tight- gripped clutches.
“I’m like a Roman emperor,” he quipped. “You’ll have to kill me to get rid of me.”
The ninth seeded Falcons face No. 8 Campus Magnet in the first round of the PSAL B Conference playoffs in Queens on Sunday.
— Jerry Del Priore
Photo: Vinny Aceto