The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Mr. Joe Suriano

Take a look at this exclusive Pioneer article from January of 2016, when a young Anna Favetta, now a sophomore at the University of Delaware, interviewed Mr. Joe Suriano just weeks before his retirement.

Joe Suriano, former cross country coach at West Orange High School, meets with his team the day before a conference meet in 2000

PHOTO BY RICH SCHULTZ SLSL

Joe Suriano, former cross country coach at West Orange High School, meets with his team the day before a conference meet in 2000

Anna Favetta, Former Editor in Chief

Mr. Suriano leaves a legacy at West Orange High School and with good reason: He is a genuinely caring person, generous with his wit, his wisdom, and his time. He first started teaching in 1969 and then came to West Orange High School in 1986. After teaching for 45 and a half years, Mr. Suriano is retiring. Mr. Suriano is not only an exceptional teacher, but he has also been a hardworking coach for the last 43 years.

Mr. Suriano sums up his coaching and teaching philosophy simply, “I coach English and teach track. It’s the same whether you’re in the classroom or on the track, you take kids from where they are and take them as far as they can go.”

One of Mr. Suriano’s favorite coaching memories is coaching 3 runners who had qualified for the Olympic trials. One was Bruce Berry who ran the 400 meter hurdles, Heather Bury for the marathon and Daniel Hobson who also ran the 400 meter hurdles. Not only that but Coach Suriano also coached an undefeated cross country team in 1995.

He says, “What was so great was we had no superstars, just kids who worked beyond their expectations and enjoyed being together.” When asked what his greatest accomplishment teaching was, Mr. Suriano says he had “hopefully instilled in [his students] that the qualities of determination became a part of their lives.” He also hopes that the students he has taught learned “to be decent and productive people in all endeavors.”

When asked about what he will miss, Suriano said when it comes to coaching he is going to miss not only the sport itself but also the bonds he formed between students, athletes, coaches, and teachers. He also said that when it comes to teaching, he is going to miss “having students grow as individuals and maximize their potential.”

Mr. Suriano is one of the most special people any person could come across in any field. He truly knows what it means to have good character and recognizes the ability within everyone to succeed. There is no question that West Orange High School is losing someone irreplaceable.