The Tom Flatley Award will be given annually, beginning in 2020, to a male Nassau County student-athlete that competed at a high level in the sports of football and lacrosse throughout his high school career. Other criteria that will be considered includes athletic and peer leadership, academic success, school and/or community service and additional extracurricular participation. The winner will be selected by a committee of coaches from both the NCFCA and NCLCA, as well as Sewanhaka High School alumni. The award will be given annually at the NCLCA All-County Dinner in June.
The Tom Flatley Award is named after one of the most successful football and lacrosse coaches in New York State history, the late Tom Flatley. Few, if any, coaches in state history have had the success that he did in multiple sports for over five decades. Tom began his coaching career at Sewanhaka High School in 1964, and spent the next eighteen years at the school, coaching both football and lacrosse. He was an outstanding defensive coordinator for head coach Bill Piner, helping the Indians win conference championships from 1977 thru 1981, culminating in winning the 1979 Rutgers Cup, symbolic of the best football team in Nassau County. In 1979 he became the head lacrosse coach at Sewanhaka, replacing legendary coach Bill Ritch. Though his tenure ship as the head lacrosse coach lasted only six years, his teams won 131 games, with a winning percentage of eighty-six and were the 1981 Long Island Champions- the first and only time the Indians ever won the LIC.
In 1983, Coach Flatley took his coaching talents to Garden City. In 1983 and 1984 he served as the defensive coordinator under Doc Dougherty. In 1985 he became the Head Coach. The rest, they say, is history. From 1985 to 2014, Flatley’s squads won eighteen Nassau County championships, appearing in fourteen Long Island championships with five victories. The Trojans were voted Rutgers Cup champions on four occasions and had six undefeated seasons. From 1990 to 1992, the Trojans won thirty consecutive games, one of the longest streaks in Nassau football history. Coach Flatley’s career win-loss record in football at Garden City stands at 264 wins, 44 losses and seven ties. Coach Flatley’s winning percentage of eighty-six percent is the highest of any football coach in Long Island history. In addition, the New York State Sportswriters crowned Garden City the #1 ranked team in the state five times.
While dominating in the fall, lacrosse never left Flatley’s life. Serving as the Junior Varsity coach at Garden City from 1988 to 2019, first for Doc Dougherty and later for former player Steve Finnell, Tom’s teams had an overall record of 357 wins, 31 losses and two ties. This record represents a winning percentage of ninety-two. It is no surprise that Garden City’s teams were so successful in the spring considering that their athletes were being so well prepared at the Junior Varsity level.
In addition to producing decades of championship-level teams and outstanding student-athletes, Flatley had the utmost respect of his peers. Known as an outstanding tactician whose teams were incredibly well-prepared, he was named the Nassau County Football Coach of the Year four times and was named the New York Metropolitan-Area Football Coach of the Year as well. In lacrosse, Flatley was named the coach of the United States National Team in 1982. He led that squad to a gold medal finish at the ILF World Championships which were held at Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, he served as the General Manager of the United States Under-19 National Team four times. He has been inducted to numerous Halls of Fame. They include the Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation (LIMLF), Sewanhaka and Garden City High Schools and the Nassau County High School. Last year he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by US Lacrosse, the governing body of the sport. In November of 2019, he entered with the first class into the NILCA (National Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association) Hall of Fame.
During his career Flatley coached many student-athletes in high school that later became outstanding coaches in their own right. The current active list includes Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Hall of Famers Joe Baccarella and Dennis Bonn, and the afore-mentioned Steve Finnell. A graduate of both Garden City High School (1957) and Lehigh University (1961), Flatley was an outstanding educator who taught Social Studies in the Sewanhaka School District for over thirty years. A longtime Floral Park
resident and dedicated family man, Flatley and his wife Helen, raised three children, Michael, Christine, and Jennifer, and have nine grandchildren.
If you would like to make a donation towards the Tom Flatley Award, please make a check payable to NCLCA and mail to:
Joe Baccarella 2 Tulane Street Farmingdale, NY 11735 or online at https://shsflatleyaward.myevent.com/
2020 Recipients: Hugh Kelleher – MacArthur High School – Cornell University Nick LiCalzi – South Side High School – United States Naval Academy