When Bill Swertfager first became the Horace Greeley varsity wrestling coach, he immediately called veteran Fox Lane head man Joe Amuso.
Even though Swertfager, who wrestled and won a state championship for Horace Greeley, was now coaching Fox Lanes archrival, Amuso overlooked that as he became a mentor to the young Swertfager.
Joe was the one who was my go-to for everything, said Swertfager, the current John Jay-Cross River head coach. He was always patient with me and set me in the right direction on everything. I consider him a good friend, mentor and will miss him.
The rest of the Section 1 wrestling will miss the affable, highly respected Amuso, who announced his retirement after 41 years as Fox Lanes wrestling coach. Amuso leaves with a Section 1-record 406 wins and five Section 1 Division I team titles since 2004.
Joe Amuso is a legend in Section 1 wrestling. Forget about the wins and championships. Look at the quality of kids he cranks out year after year. He has built a dynasty and something that Fox Lane and the community can be really proud of. His retirement will leave a void in Section 1 wrestling, Swertfager said.
Harrison wrestling coach Vinny Nicita, who is now the second-highest tenured wrestling coach (29 years) after Sleepy Hollows Brian Tompkins, did his student-teaching for Amuso at Fox Lane Middle School.
I have been learning from Joe ever since, Nicita said. Joe has set the standard for all Section 1 wrestling coaches. He has shown how to coach with class and integrity at all times. He has earned the respect of every coach and wrestler that he has come in contact with.
Current Iona Prep Assistant Wrestling Coach Joe Boxer was a student of Amusos in physical education. Boxer, a New Rochelle resident, recalled Amuso asking him to wrestle.
I was in sixth or seventh grade when Coach Amuso came to me and asked me to wrestle, said Boxer, who went on to wrestle at Cortland. I was rebellious as a kid, but coach was very assertive with me. He allowed me to grow and mature as a person, but did not accept or allow me to regress. Failure and not doing the right thing was not an option.
Fox Lane Assistant Coach Anthony Rodrigues began his coaching career at New Rochelle with Jim Guccione, who retired this year after 32 years, and spent the last 11 years sitting alongside Amuso.
With Joe, its about everything and goes beyond wrestling, said Rodrigues, whose son, Steven, won the 2011 New York State Division I 130-pound state title. Joe always makes it about the kids and a life-long thing. He supports the kids, 100 percent, and they appreciate everything he does for them and he does it with class and integrity. I have enjoyed every single day I have worked with him. This is truly the end of an era. We will never see another Joe Amuso.
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