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Ralph Montanaro: 2002 TimesLedger PSAL Girls’ Soccer Coach of the Year

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He has held so many different positions at so many different schools, it’s a safe bet to just call Ralph Montanaro by one title to avoid confusion — coach.

Whether it’s coaching track at West Hempstead High School, cross country at Francis Lewis High School, girls’ basketball at Bushwick or boys’ soccer at Long Island City, the Flushing resident has achieved success wherever he hangs his hat and whistle.

At Bryant High School it is no different.

After building the girls’ soccer program from scratch five years ago, the TimesLedger PSAL Girls’ Soccer Queens Coach of the Year has gone from teaching the basics of the sport to leading one of the borough’s top teams.

The Owls were one of the most improved teams in Queens this year, finishing 11-4-1 before losing to Beacon in the first round of the playoffs. It was the fourth straight year Bryant made the playoffs.

“I just live for it,” Montanaro said. “The first time I started coaching girls’ soccer, I just got excited. There was a flare inside of me. I have a passion for whatever I coach and I try and put everything into it.”

Montanaro’s coaching résumé reads like a who’s who of local high schools and colleges. An accomplished runner, the native of Bari, Italy coached track at East New York Community College (now New York City Technical College) and went on to coach girls’ track at West Hempstead High School.

He started the boys’ basketball program at St. Demetrious High School in 1978 and five years later coached boys’ soccer and track at Long Island City High School.

He coached at the now-defunct Mable Dean Bacon High School, starting a boys’ basketball program there. He won a city championship in 1989 — when he was named Daily News Manhattan Coach of the Year — and reached the playoffs in each of his nine years there.

While coaching the boys at Bacon, Montanaro — who has won more than 300 total basketball games — also coached women’s basketball at Baruch College in 1985.

Four years ago he led the Bushwick girls’ basketball team to the city quarterfinals and the semifinals after an undefeated division record the year after. In addition to girls’ soccer at Bryant, Montanaro also coaches the Francis Lewis cross country track team.

“I believe that hard work will breed success,” he said. “As a coach you have to work hard all the time, you have to give your all and let them know it if you expect them to do the work for you.”

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