Rich Degnan, the boys track and field coach in the Massapequa School District, was recently honored by the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation, as he has received the Mike Byrnes Coach of the Year Award for 2019.
“I get to coach and work in a great community and school district in Massapequa,” said Degnan. “Being honored with the award was unexpected and could not have happened without the support of so many people.”
The award is given out each year to the best track and field coach in the nation. It is named after former Wantagh track and field coach Mike Byrnes, who won multiple championships at the county and state levels and was the only high school coach to serve on the staff of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team in 1968.
Degnan was recognized at the New Balance National Indoor Track and Field Championship and called the award “a great honor.”
“My family, my high school coach Steve Borbet, many of my former athletes were all there,” said Degnan. “As I stood in the middle of the 168th Street Armory, a place where I had raced and coached for over 40 years, I just smiled knowing that I was being recognized for something I truly love doing and thankful for everyone who has been a part of my adventure in track and field.”
He has been the head coach in Massapequa since 2007, and has led teams to conference championships in 2013, 2014 and 2017. The outdoor track team has won the past four division championships and was county champion runner-up in 2018. During the last 12 years, 69 of his athletes have continued on to track and field teams at the collegiate level.
Degnan’s teams also have repeatedly been recognized with sportsmanship awards.
The 1975 Holy Trinity High School graduate was a five-time All-American athlete, ranking in the top 10 in the United States in five different events. He continued his track and field career at the University of Nebraska, and coached at Bay Shore High School and LIU Post before coming to Massapequa.