BEDFORD, N.Y. Fox Lane High varsity wrestling coach Joe Amuso admitted he had been thinking about retiring for a couple of years.
But after 41 years as head coach, Amuso called it a career, announcing his retirement at the wrestling dinner.
"Each year after our awards dinner I talk myself back into it," said Amuso, who plans to spend more time with his wife, Carmen. "I gave it a lot of thought and consideration and felt the time was right."
The dean of Section 1 wrestling coaches, Amuso is retiring with 406 wins, the most in Section 1 history. He led the Foxes to a second consecutive Section 1 Division I championship and is fifth overall since 2004.
"It's hard to put 41 years into a few sentences, but I am proud of the team's and the kids' accomplishments," Amuso said. "I spoke to two former wrestlers, recently, from 30 and 32 years ago. They are both coaches now, and they wanted to thank me for helping them learn the values that got them to where they are today."
Amuso is a 1966 Fox Lane graduate and a 1965 Section 1 wrestling champion at 123 pounds. He became the varsity wrestling coach right out of college.
During his career, including 37 years as a physical education teacher at Fox Lane Middle School, Amuso finished with a 406-137-6 record. He was a three-time Section 1 wrestling coach of the year, a 2006 inductee into the Section 1 Wrestling Hall of Fame and 2009 inductee into the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame.
He coached 35 Section 1 champions, including his son, Joe Jr., a three-time titlist; 23 all-state wrestlers; and 126 all-section wrestlers. Fox Lane went undefeated four times during Amuso's career, including a 33-match winning streak.
Amuso surprised his wrestlers and their parents with his announcement. "At the end of the dinner I told everyone I had one more announcement to make," he said. "I told everyone I was not going to get teary-eyed like they do on ESPN."
After announcing his retirement, everyone in the crowd rose to their feet, giving Amuso a standing ovation.
Fox Lane junior Tommy Grippi, the 2012 Section 1 Division 1 champion at 138 pounds, was hoping for one more year with Amuso. "My dad and I had the same face on, we were devastated," said Grippi, the third Grippi brother to wrestle for Amuso. "I am really sad because I wanted my brother, Matt, who will be in seventh grade next year, to have the experience of wrestling for Coach Amuso."
Grippi was happy to be a member of the team that gave Amuso his 400th coaching win and a fifth sectional title. Now, he looks forward to seeing Amuso next year as a fan at Fox Lane matches.
"The team is so proud of him, getting him his 400th win," Grippi said. "We could not have done any of this without him. I know he will be at matches next year with Mrs. Amuso, and that will make me work even harder because Coach Amuso is one of the people I want to win a state title for."
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