You have to excuse Mike Duffy as he’s getting used to all the free time he’s got.
Duffy, who served as Petrides’ sporting director for 25 years and as an administrator/teacher for over three decades, resigned from his post in June and suffice it to say he’s not nearly as busy as he used to be.
And that’s perhaps an understatement of the West Brighton resident’s hands-on approach.
“I’m just taking (the days) as they come while I spend time figuring out what I’m going to do next,” said Duffy, who was replaced as AD by Steve Lyman. “I go to school occasionally to see some of the teams play but it’s different.
“It’s been a long run and mostly fun, but it was just time for me to move on and spend more time with my wife (JoAnne) and family.
“Fortunately (our sports programs) have had a lot of success. I started at Petrides when Mike Davino was a director and of course Joanne Buckheit was a director until my retirement and I cannot thank them enough for what they have done for me.”
Duffy has been an educator for 32 years
Duffy, who graduated from St. Peter’s and St Francis College in Brooklyn before embarking on a long teaching career, including a year at the now defunct Bishop Ford HS in Brooklyn as a teacher and swimming coach for both boys and girls.
Then he wore many hats during a six-year tenure at Tilden HS. In fact, he not only coached softball (four years), boys’ bowling (two years), and swimming for boys and girls (four years), but also coached the Brooklyn school’s athletic director for two years.
His role as AD then prepared him for his quarter-century era with Petrides.
Duffy was originally hired by Sunnyside School to create the physical education program but was eventually hired and asked to develop the physical education department as well. In addition, he served in the Department of Physical Education for the elementary, middle and high schools and was the Dean of the High School students for the last more than 10 years.
However, Duffy’s duties were not limited to administrative work. He also coached the boys’ and girls’ swimming teams (one year), the fencing team (one year), and the boys’ golf team (12 years).
Of course, Duffy’s tenure was greatly appreciated by many.
“What Mike did for preschool (through high school) in developing our athletic program is monumental,” said Buckheit. “As a small school, this development and the number of programs we have with multiple three-sport athletes is certainly a tribute to the effort he put into building the program.
“We are very happy that we have so many teams. Everything we have now was created by infrastructure (which he instilled) from the start. He maintained the facility and built the program and was always a huge presence on our campus and we will miss him.
“But the good thing is, if we need to inquire about anything, he’s just a phone call away.”
Dave Olah, Petrides’ longtime varsity football and wrestling coach, echoed Buckheit’s thoughts.
“Petrides Athletics was Mike Duffy,” praised Olah. “He was hired to create and develop the sports program and has done a great job as a sports director. Personally, he always supported me as a coach. He has also been a mentor to young and new coaches and I think he has done a particularly phenomenal job helping to develop new programs over the years.”
Not only is Duffy proud of the relationships he’s forged with all the coaches he’s hired, including mainstays like Olah, Kim Caccese and Jen Delahanty, but also that the athletic program has evolved the way it has evolved.
“I have to hire my own people and many of the coaches are still there. They stayed with me and had a long tenure throughout the development process,” Duffy said. “It’s a small school that no one really thought would belong to the sport, but we’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of success thanks to my coaches.
“I just dotted the ‘i’s and crossed out the ‘t’s and luckily a lot of things worked out.”
Duffy, of course, has a wealth of memories from his AD/Coaching era, including presenting awards during the many graduation ceremonies he attended. But there is one memory that stands out a bit more than the others.
“When I was the boys’ golf coach, we went to the city finals three times. We lost the first two but eventually won when we beat McKee/Staten Island Tech in 2009,” said Duffy, who enjoys watching his children develop their professional careers, including Meghan (teacher, swim coach at Port Richmond HS) and James (FDNY firefighter) and Patricia (teacher at Petrides). “And to watch our fifth flyer, Max Wade, win the championship game by ultimately winning (his pairing) was really special.
“I was blessed with kids who had a lot of talent and that’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
Steve Lyman is more than ready for a new role
Lyman from Dongan Hills, who has been groomed by Duffy for the past year or so, really scored the daily double when he was officially hired as Petrides’ sporting director.
In case you don’t know Lyman, he’s had plenty of success with Monsignor Farrell’s lacrosse program for nearly two decades. In fact, the 2000 Farrell graduate was not only an assistant at his alma mater between 2005 and 2007, but has been the Lions’ head coach since 2008.
Luckily, after getting approval from both Buckheit and Farrell’s athletic director Tony Garofalo, he plans to take on both jobs.
“There will definitely be no problem. I’ll have time to do both,” Lyman, 40, said. “I’m really happy that my bosses (Garofalo and Buckheit) have given me their blessing to take on both ventures.”
Lyman, who played lacrosse at both Farrell College and Wagner College, first taught at Petrides between 2008 and 2009 and then had a stint at PS 14.
He returned to Petrides in 2013 and has been an elementary and middle school teacher for the past 10 years and Dean of the Elementary School since 2014.
Lyman was Duffy’s assistant last year and took over when he retired in June.
“So far so good,” Lyman said. “It was certainly a learning experience and I’ve been really fortunate to have a great friendship with Mike Duffy. He has been a great mentor to me and I can always turn to him if I have any questions.”
Both Buckheit and Olah believe Lyman was the right person to fill the important role of athletic director.
“I couldn’t imagine anyone other than[Lyman]taking on the job of athletic director. If there’s anyone who can do it, it’s him,” said Buckheit. “He offers a similar engagement (like Duffy’s). He does a lot here and after spending a year with Mike handing it over to him was the right move.
“We believe he will continue everything that (Duffy) started and developed here. He will continue everything that (Duffy) has done for us and of course there is always the possibility that he can come up with new ideas as well.”
“Steve has firmly established himself at Petrides as a teacher and as an athlete with a coaching background, he’s the right man,” Olah said matter-of-factly. “Probably he will have a slightly different perspective from Monsignor Farrell. We have a small school, of course, but a large sports program with over 20 teams.
“He will try to do what Mike did but could also have a new way of looking at things and we are very happy to have him.”
Lyman said there is one thing that will be different as far as he can see.
“Just being able to be in every sport together, that’s what I look forward to,” said the Oakwood native. “[Duffy]paved the way for all of this. I know I have very big shoes to fill, but I will do my best to continue what he started.
“Obviously I want to help make the sports program as competitive as possible and I look forward to the challenge.”
Other current HS sports stories
CHSAA Girls Soccer: The 2022 Archdiocese All-League Team includes 14 Staten Islanders
HS-Football: Another 22 gridders are in the spotlight after week 9 of “high performances”.
Headshots 12: Football season is drawing to a close, but here are 33 more gridders from yesteryear
HS girls soccer: Jaime Como rises to the occasion as Sea advances to Archdiocese CHSAA semi-finals
Headshots 11: Eureka – this crowd of 36 ex-soccer players includes a pair of photos from the mid 1990’s