BERKELEY – The Central Regional High School track was named in honor of coach Steve Healey, who was praised for keeping kids going in the right direction.
As head coach from 1976 to 2001, he had 25 winning seasons out of 26. His career record was 188-51. These are great statistics, but for those who competed in track and field for him, they knew that his impact was more than just numbers.
“This is the biggest highlight of his sports career,” his daughter Carrie Healey said on behalf of the coach, who was not able to attend.
“There are no shortcuts to success – in track or in life,” she said, reading from a speech her father prepared. He thanked district officials for the honor and gave credit to his assistant coaches throughout the years.
He said how he was very upset that he couldn’t be in attendance, and noted how proud he was to see his athletes excel: “I’ve watched amazing things they’ve done in life and on the track.”
Even if he wasn’t at the ceremony, he had showed up when it counted, several speakers said.
Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides was one of his athletes. “He was like a second dad to me, and for a lot of kids, he was their first dad.”
He shared an emotional story of how Healey went out of his way to be there for him in a time of need, which showed how big the man’s heart is. “He is not only a great teacher and a great coach, but a great human being.”
Several people told stories about how he cared about the student in every facet of their lives, not just how they were as a competitor.
Former assistant coach George Steinhauser told a story of a boy who wanted to be a pole vaulter. Poles have different sizes, depending on the size of the athlete. This kid needed a pole and the school didn’t have one the right size. So, he tracked down the right one at a store and the two of them drove it back, strapped to a truck.
“It’s not just a name on the sign on the track,” he said. “He was professional and every day he was an example of how you should be.”
Those in attendance had stories of quirky things he did – and his peculiar choices of language – but it was all with the end goal of making kids better people.
“Attitude is altitude,” said former assistant coach Jay Thevon, quoting Healey. “Excuses: Don’t give ‘em and don’t take ‘em. If you can’t do it up there (pointing to the school), you won’t do it here.”
Thevon said Healey was a true teacher, coach, mentor, and father figure. “If he was here, he’d say it’s not about him, it’s about the kids and other coaches.”
Former assistant coach Mark Haug said that when he was a student, he failed off the team. One of the things he missed about it was hearing Healey’s speeches. He admitted to standing outside and listening in. He worked to get his grades back up and got back on the team.
His mother passed away when he was a sophomore in college. He was surprised that Healey came to see how he was and how he could help.
“I’m the man I am today because of you, coach,” he said. “I hope I made you proud because I still look up to you today as much as that skinny little freshman who first walked onto this track – the Steve Healey Track – in 1984.”
Mark Worthy was another former athlete of his. When he spent too much time on the bench, he quit.
“He wasn’t having it. He wouldn’t let me quit,” he said of Mr. Healey. “Over 40 years, and I still call him Mr. Healey out of respect.”
Healey has hired Worthy to do HVAC on his properties, but Worthy suspects it was to keep an eye on him. But all this time, students like Worthy were keeping an eye on Healey, watching how well he treated his wife and children.
“The main thing we learned was how to do life and as a result of Mr. Healey, I’m winning,” he said.
Luigi Vialente was also an athlete for him, in addition to working for him. He recalled all of the things he did every day for others.
“Those little things make a difference,” he said. “He always pushed everybody and he wanted the best for everybody.”
Motioning to the sign on the track, he said that in nine short years, his own children will be at this school and they will be a part of this history.
Mayor Carmen Amato played football for Healey. He alluded to the coach’s colorful commentary. He also presented a proclamation naming the day of the ceremony, June 4, 2022, Steve Healey Day in Berkeley.
Ben Giovine attended from Congressman Andy Kim’s office. He read a statement that had also been read on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives about Healey, and the impact that he had on others as a coach and teacher. That means that his legacy is in the federal archives as well.