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Gallo retires; left mark at Schalmont

Gallo retires; left mark at Schalmont

Athletic director steps down with championship resume
Gallo retires; left mark at Schalmont
John Gallo has retired as Schalmont's athletic director, a position he held since 2004.
Photographer: PHOTO PROVIDED

ROTTERDAM — In his role as Schalmont's athletic director, John Gallo never pieced together a starting lineup, called out a play or ran a practice — but he did have a big hand in selecting the people who did.

Gallo obviously chose well, and that is reflected by the numerous victories and championships those coaches orchestrated since he took the administrative position in 2004.

His successful stint came to a close with his retirement at the end of the school year, which included a sixth Section II girls' soccer championship in seven years and a deep playoff pushes by a handful of other Sabres' teams.

"It is your footprint," said Gallo, who joined the Schalmont staff in 1996 to teach social studies and coach football and wrestling. "We had great runs in different sports. I'm really proud of putting the right pieces in place."

Greg Loiacono was one of those pieces. Gallo hired him to coach the boy' basketball team in 2014, and Loiacono has guided the Sabres to success in the Colonial Council and beyond with a trio of final four appearance in the Section II tournament.

"He's a professional in what he does, and he works hard," Loiacono said of the 54-year-old Gallo, who coached and taught at Draper, Mohonasen and LaSalle before moving to Schalmont. "He's an old-school type of guy. You appreciate that so much, and it makes you want to work hard for him."

Gallo toiled hard, and long, on a daily basis in an effort to make Schalmont one of Section II's most successful Class B athletic programs. The girls' soccer team that included his daughter Alexandra won Schalmont's first of two state titles in 2011. The baseball team claimed a state flag in 2014, and reached another final four in 2016. The football team played for New York crowns in 2010, 2013 and 2014, with Gallo's son Nick anchoring the latter two.

"Your 12-hour day is as normal as breathing," Gallo said. "You can't be a clock watcher. You get home when you're done. When 99 percent of the other educators were leaving I was just getting cranked up for practices and games and things that needed to be done."

That didn't go unnoticed. As the school year was drawing to an end, Gallo was named the Section II Athletic Director of the Year, and  was tabbed the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Athletic Director of the Year by CASDA (Capital Area School Development Association). He was also honored by the New York State Athletic Administrators Association.

"The best part of John Gallo is he cares about Schalmont," Loiacono said. "He cares about the people who work there and he cares about the kids and their families. Everyone knows that."

Schalmont underwent a facilities upgrade under Gallo's watch. He made sure teams had the equipment they needed. He opened gym doors for extra practice and approved non-league competitions to toughen the Sabres up and make them better come playoff time.

"At budget time I wanted to make sure the coaches and kids were supported," Gallo said. "I can say our teams never went without."

"As a coach you wanted to be successful because you were supported," Loiacono said. "Put in the work and John will support you." 

Gallo made it a point to serve every member of the Schalmont athletic family.

"I wanted the seventh-grade modified athlete to know Mr. Gallo was just as supportive of them as the star athlete on a varsity team," Gallo said.

All four of Terry and John Gallo's children, including Sarah and Vince, played sports at Schalmont. Vince and Nick, like their dad, did at Mohonasen and Springfield College, excelling in football and wrestling.

Vince was the leading rusher and tackler on coach Joe Whipple's first of five Section II title-winning teams in 2009. Each of those teams also won regional championships, and three followed up with state semifinal wins.

"When I travel around to other states people know of Schalmont," Gallo said. "I was talking to a couple of coaches from New Jersey and one of them goes, 'You're at the [Syracuse Carrier] Dome every year.' It's nice to hear things like that."

Gallo taught social studies and filled several administrative roles in his career in education, which began at Draper in 1985 and moved to Mohonasen when the schools merged the following year. His first coaching duties were as Draper's defensive coordinator in football and its head wrestling coach. He later led varsity football and wrestling teams at Mohonasen, LaSalle, where he worked from 1992-96, and at Schalmont.

At LaSalle, he started the wrestling program and guided the Cadets football team to a Super Bowl appearance in 1994. At Schalmont three of his wrestling teams had unbeaten seasons.

Over the course of his career, Gallo was president of the Colonial Council and Capital Football Conference and served on the Section II classification and football committees.

"My dad [Vincent Gallo] was a coach, and I got the drive from him," John Gallo said. "Put you head down and grind it out. It was no picnic at times."

But it was awfully satisfying.

"As athletic director I really enjoyed helping coaches any way I could," Gallo said.

Gallo was among the first class to be inducted into the Mohonasen Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. When he graduated from the high school in 1981, he held its football record for single-season rushing yards with 1,096, its wrestling record for most career wins with 119 (he won two Section II titles), and its shot put record at 50-11 1/2.

At Springfield he earned All-American status in wrestling, and was a team captain in football.

Matt Ronca will replace Gallo as Schalmont's AD. He filled that role at Cobleskill-Richmondville the last two school years.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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