Lynbrook Says Goodbye to Athletic Director Tom Graham

T0m Graham, who has been Lynbrook’s athletic director for sixteen years and worked in education in Lynbrook for 32 years, is retiring this year. Although this school year had an unusual ending, the Lynbrook community has dedicated itself to honoring and wishing Graham and the district’s other retiring staff members well, even holding car parades and giving gifts to each of this year’s six retirees. Graham has had a large impact on Lynbrook and will be missed dearly. 

Many of his coworkers and community members admire Graham for his caring attitude towards athletes and the community. US History Teacher and Football and Basketball Coach Stephen LoCicero commented, “Mr. Graham is a true professional. His heart was always in the right place. He wanted the best for everyone who crossed his path. He wanted us all–students, athletes and coaches–to succeednot only in the specific endeavor but in life.” Social Studies Teacher and Lacrosse and Football Coach William Leighley added to this sentiment, “Mr. Graham has become more than just a boss over the years. He really is an inspiration as far as his caring for the entire Lynbrook community is concerned. He is more than willing to put in a tremendous amount of time to ensure the wellbeing of all student athletes. It makes you want to do the same as a coach.” Former Moms’ and Dads’ Club President and Board of Education Member Sean Strife also commented on Graham’s benevolence: “My favorite thing about working with Tom was that everything he did was for the kids; it was never about personal benefit for him. It was always all about making sure the kids had everything they needed.” Graham shared that what he will miss most about Lynbrook is the students, and what he will miss least is “athletes getting hurt or sick,” which shows how much he truly cares. He takes pride in the work he does, as he stated that what has made him most proud is “when officials come up to [him] after a game and tell [him] how pleasant it was to officiate at Lynbrook.” 

Those who have worked with Graham appreciate and revere his dedication and determination. He makes an effort to be present at nearly every sporting event. Athletics Secretary Cynthia DeLucca commented, “He tried to make as many Lynbrook high school and middle school games, matches, or competitions as he could. You would see him at a middle school one minute, and then you would see him on the sidelines of a high school game. He never stopped. The energizer bunny has nothing on him!” Principal Joseph Rainis added, “I will miss his presence at every sporting event.” LoCicero also expressed his admiration of Graham’s dedication: “There are so many [memories to share], but recently, he has lost 80 pounds. That takes real determination and focus! Losing weight is something we all struggle with, and his ability to do that for himself and his family is just a wonderful testament to his hard work. That is the same determination and focus he has put into this Lynbrook community.” 

Many coaches and parents appreciate his cool-headedness and ability to ease stress during situations of tension. Leighley shared a fond memory of Graham from when he became the head coach of lacrosse in 2009 after Larry Glenz’s retirement. He reflected, “I was replacing a legend and was always nervous about trying to be as successful and not having people question whether or not I was up to the task. I had many outbursts about feeling that I wasn’t being treated the same way Coach Glenz would have been treated.” However, Graham was able to help him with this, as he shared, “Mr. Graham ALWAYS remained calm and cool and tempered the situation.  Looking back, I was overreacting more often than not. My ego was getting involved, and Mr. Graham handled it all perfectly. Calm Tom! And more often than not, everything worked out great.” Strife shared another moment when Graham helped to diffuse stress at sporting events: “[My] favorite memory of Tom was when I was yelling at a lacrosse referee at my daughter Tori’s game and got thrown off the sideline and Tom made me sit in his car.” 

Graham built strong bonds with staff members and coaches, and many of them became not only coworkers, but friends. Rainis reflected on his relationship with Graham:I will miss our laughing together over lunch. My favorite thing? Teasing him. I’ll miss that as well. Honestly, there have been so many great, funny, heartwarming moments. They could fill a book. Strife also commented on that he would miss Graham because of “the great working relationship we had that became a great friendship.” DeLucca shared of her friendship with him: “I think I will miss Tom Graham because he became a friend while being my boss. He is easy to talk to. He is a very good listener, who always had time for a student, teacher, coach and of course, me and my co-worker, Tara Sollitto. He would go above and beyond to help anyone who came to him for advice.” She also shared that one of her favorite qualities of his is that “he made [her] and everyone he encountered feel like their opinion mattered. He is friendly and is a ‘people person,’” this being just one of many special qualities of Graham. LoCicero appreciated these qualities as well: “He always brought you in on the process of decisions. He asked questions, listened and truly valued you as a coach. He respected the job you do every day because he was a former coach.  He understood that everyone had value as a person.” DeLucca commented that she always enjoyed working alongside Graham on the varsity athletic dinner, as it was difficult, but never made unpleasant by him, as she said, “We would always wind up laughing about something at the end of the day.” 

Graham has always been extremely dedicated to being involved in athletics. He even plans to continue his involvement in athletics in his retirement, as he stated, “I am going back to coaching.” He also looks forward to “Spending more time with [his] family” in his retirement. Rainis shared his well wishes for Graham: “My hope is that he enjoys days filled with yoga, meditation, and practicing mindfulness while riding his bike and coaching track! I am very happy for him, and I know that he will enjoy his retirement.” He will be missed by all those who worked with him, but the community wishes him luck in his future endeavors.