by Howie Levy


In our senior year, popular coach, Roy Chernock, led Oceanside High School's outdoor track team, featuring many of our classmates, to its first ever undefeated (15-0) season and the 1960 Division I championship ― another source of pride for our class. Coach Roy's time at OHS was part of a distinguished career in track beginning as a New York University Athletics Hall of Famer, where he was Metropolitan and UAA champion in hurdles, long jump, and relay events, and a triple gold medalist sprinter at the 1950 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

"One of the most respected coaches in the nation," according to an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, October 3, 2006, Chernock's coaching career included stints at Jamaica High School (before Oceanside, where he was from 1957 to 1967), then C.W. Post College, Baruch College, Princeton University, William & Mary, and in international competition for the USA national track team. Coach Roy was a 2004 inductee of the OHS Sports Hall of Fame's Circle of Pride.

Coach Roy now lives with his wife, Ethel, in South Florida where he still coaches in a local high school. He is also a big fan of this website, and he donated photos from that championship year from his collection, which are displayed on our sports page. And here is what he wrote us about the site:

"SUPER!! Howie, Congratulations on a great site! I enjoyed every minute of it as I have very fond memories of my years at OHS. Keep up the great work. Your website never fails to amaze me each time I sign on! Thank you for that labor of love!"

His particular fondness for our class inspired him to accept our invitation and travel north to Long Island from his home ― by himself ― at age 77 ― just to attend our 45-year reunion in 2005, whereupon he wrote, "It was a great night for me, too! Thanks for thinking of and inviting me!" For photos of Coach Roy taken at that event, some with Coach Jan (Frank Januzewski), click here, here, here and/or here.

Following is an article on Coach Roy's "post-retirement" career published in 2003 in the Palm Beach Post and sent to us by classmate, Mike Brozost.
Copyright 2008 by Howard B. Levy and
1960 Sailors Association Inc. All rights reserved.   

GREENACRES He jokes that he can't hold a job for long, but Roy Chernock has been doing the same thing professionally for 53 years coaching track and field and even at 75, he's not sure whether he wants to call it quits.

"Looking ahead, the stars of my team are all seniors, so next year I'm looking to rebuild or retire," the John I. Leonard boys coach said Wednesday before heading to his team's final practice before today's regional championships at Dwyer's Blum Stadium. "But I'm stupid, so I'll probably be back."

Chernock has been coming back to the sport he loves to coach for more than half a century. His first coaching job was in 1950 at Jamaica High School in New York. Then came jobs at Oceanside High in Long Island and college jobs at C.W. Post, Baruch, Princeton and William & Mary, where he started the women's track program in the late 1970s. He called his two-year coaching stint at Baruch College in midtown Manhattan the "longest two years" of his life. "I'm an outdoor person and it is difficult to be an outdoor person at 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue in the middle of the largest city in the world," he said.

In 1990, Chernock "retired" and moved to South Florida. He remembered that while he was coaching at Oceanside High, there was a young runner in the area named Harry Howell Jr., who later became -- and still is -- the cross-country and track coach at Cardinal Newman.

So when Chernock arrived in Palm Beach County in March 1990, he called Howell to see if he knew of any part-time coaching positions open. Howell picked up Chernock and showed him around Newman, thinking perhaps he might want to coach there. On the way back to a friend's house where Chernock was staying, they drove past John I. Leonard. Howell mentioned that he thought Leonard was looking for a girls track coach. Chernock checked it out and was hired.

That was 13 years ago. He returned to the school three years ago after brief coaching stints at Suncoast and Wellington, and last week Leonard's boys team won its first district championship in recent memory.

Outspoken on various topics

Among the track coaching fraternity in the area, Chernock is known to speak his mind, and not only on topics involving running and jumping. Five years ago, Chernock penned a letter to the editor of The Palm Beach Post in response to two stories -- one about a $70 million gift to Liberty University from Arthur Williams, the other about the financial dire straits of athletic departments at area high schools following the encephalitis scare from mosquitoes in the fall of 1997 that shut down nighttime sports activities.

Wrote Chernock: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if Mr. Williams or some other local philanthropist could see his way clear to bail out local schools rather than send money to other states?"

"We've had our fights, and I usually just walk away," said coach Rick Rothman, who has coached for 27 years and built Spanish River's cross-country program into one of the best in the nation. "He's a good guy, and he does know what he's doing. Somebody once asked me if I thought I'd coach as long as Roy. I told them I'll be happy if I live as long as Roy."

Chernock has coached his share of star athletes, including Craig Masback when he was at Princeton in the mid-1970s. Masback today is the CEO of USA Track and Field, the governing body of the sport in this country. Chernock also coached Vin Lananna, the cross-country and track coach at Stanford, and Jeri Daniels-Elder, the women's track coach at Penn State, when they were in college. Lananna and Daniels-Elder last September were named to the coaching staff of the U.S. Olympic track team for the 2004 Athens Games.

There was one incident eight years ago that easily could have forced Chernock to "retire" again. He had a sometimes stormy athlete-coach relationship with former two-time Palm Beach Post Runner of the Year Ramona Saridakis, whose transfer from Leonard to Cardinal Newman in January 1995 during her junior year sparked allegations of recruiting by Newman, which six months later was fined a state record $7,635 by the Florida High School Activities Association. A lawsuit on behalf of Saridakis was filed against the Palm Beach County School Board and eventually settled for $25,000.

Surprise district title

The good memories, however, have outweighed the bad ones for Chernock.

When he was in his late 60s, Chernock held Masters sprint records in the 100 and 200 meters and the 100-meter hurdles. Hip replacement surgery four years ago, however, ended his competitive running career, which he said "is a shame because I was looking forward to kicking all those older guys' butts in my age group."

Two summers ago, Chernock, who claims to be a pretty fair golfer, shot his age (73) at Addison Reserve in Delray Beach. He said he had a makable birdie putt on the 18th hole for a round of 72, but as the ball rolled close to the hole, he almost urged it to not go in. It rimmed out of the cup and Chernock tapped in for his 73.

Then came last week when the Leonard boys team, led by senior distance runner Jeremy Miller, surprisingly captured the district title, making this season the best at Leonard in more than a decade. Should this be Chernock's last year, it will be one to remember. Don't count on it, though, says his wife, Ethel.

"It's the best thing for him," she said. "He has to be with the kids. I hope he never stops."

Copyright 2003, The Palm Beach Post. All rights reserved.


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