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All-American Athlete Transfers After Coach's Dismissal

Grant Sanchez said he would have finished his senior year in Montville if Anthony SanFilippo was still allowed to coach.

With several local, state and national titles under his belt, track athlete Grant Sanchez has paved the way for what he plans to be a sucessful senior year.

That success will not be shared with the community, however, as Sanchez transferred last week to Morris Hills. If former assistant track coach Anthony SanFilippo was asked to return as a coach this year, Sanchez, 16, said he would have stayed in Montville.

"I probably would have stayed just for him," Sanchez said. "I feel like he's a really good coach, he's always been there for all of the kids."

Sanchez is a four-time USA Track & Field All-American athlete, has been honored as a 2012 Morris County shot put and discus champion and medaled twice in the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics his freshman year. He is just one of many students who said they are affected by SanFilippo not being asked to coach in Montville for the first time in seven years.

The Montville Township Public Schools Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Paul Fried have said they are unable to comment on any personnel issues, legally.

SanFilippo said he is not sure why he was not asked to coach again, but was . Dozens of students, parents, coaches and athletes attended last week's meeting not bringing SanFilippo back. SanFilippo said he is overwhelmed by the support he has received.

"The support that I've gotten has been tremendous. The kids and the parents and members of the community and teachers of the high school have reached out," SanFilippo said. "From my perspective, I think that's great because it makes me feel like I belong."

He has been contacted by four other Morris County high schools in the past two weeks with coaching offers, although he has not accepted any yet.

SanFilippo, who has worked with Sanchez since eighth grade, said Montville's track program will suffer a "tremendous" loss with Sanchez transferring.

"The bulk of the rest of the kids are incoming sophomores," he said. "He was going to lead them through a lot of big things this year. To not have that level and caliber athlete around, it makes it hard for the young guys to have someone to look up to."

Head track coach Mark Philhower agreed.

"It's a loss because this past spring, Grant was county champion in two events, which is a really outstanding result. He has tremendous potential for growth," Philhower said.

But both Philhower and SanFilippo said Morris Hills has a strong track program and they expect continued success from Sanchez in his new school. Sanchez also said he is excited for "a change" in his senior year.

Sanchez' mother, Rocio Fernandez, said transferring her son was necessary after she heard SanFilippo would not be coaching in Montville this year. Within the past two weeks, Fernandez has not only enrolled Sanchez in a new school, but their family has also moved to Rockaway so that he can attend Morris Hills. Sanchez has been living in and attending Montville schools since fifth grade.

"I couldn't wait for the board to make the decision," Fernandez said. "I have to look out for what's best for my kid because, obviously, Montville is not going to give him what he needs."

Fernandez said she is aware of the effect transferring her son in his last year of high school can have. But she feels it was worth it to be able to give him the opportunities in track that she does not believe he would have at Montville without SanFilippo.

"I'm in education and I know that changing a kid in high school is not easy, but this is what I had to do for my son and I'll do whatever I have to do for my son to be succesful," she said.

Just as SanFilippo feels Sanchez transferring is a loss for Montville, Sanchez feels the absence of SanFilippo is Montville's loss as well.

"I think they're going to lose a great asset on their track team," he said. "He's been doing really well with the track team for years."

Dan Grant August 29, 2012 at 08:33 PM
The coach is an at will employee who can be fired at anytime for any reason and the Board has no obligation to say why, however he also made a public appeal to the Board so he had no reason to ask for confidentiality. It seems as if he had nothing to hide it is doubtfull that he was concerned about it. It would seem that the Board is hiding behind that alledged confidentiallity because they don't want to talk about the reason. More may well be learned by who it is that replaces him. It could be that someone else in the district wanted the job or it could be for other reasons but by not revealing those reasons it leads to bad feelings and unfounded or maybe founded rumors.
Disillusioned dissident August 29, 2012 at 08:56 PM
You would think that but this isn't the corporate world. This is government and they are public employees being paid with my dime. I can look up the salaries of every single teach in montville because its posted online and public information that we have the right to know. How come i dont see your salary or other corporate employees salary online? Because you just compared an apple with an orange
Annunciata Kirk September 01, 2012 at 02:22 PM
It seems unreal that one person could consciously destroy years of positive work from another one in a few seconds without having to reveal her true motivation behind it !!! In the mean time many coaches, teachers, administrators, whose records or work ethic have been unacceptably poor for many years are still in place, paid by us taxpayers, getting stipends right and left on top of their salaries...while teaching our children how to be lazy, or even beat the system.... Wake up Montville!!! The Board of Ed should stop hiding things, and protecting the wrong people.
Montville family September 02, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Could you please explain your first sentence? I am curious as to who the person is. Losing Coach Anthony is awful not only for the track team but more importantly for the fact that he positively changes kids lives. We need to request a review of Mr Pignatellos recommendation to fire Coach Anthony.
Angelo Harasts September 02, 2012 at 07:32 PM
I think the BOE and the Community is missing the bigger questions. First why would he transfer to the Morris Hills District and Is this common? The answer to the first question is Morris Hills has the best track program in the county and has a long tradition of success and who would not want that? Second many ahtletes in northern jersey move to Rockaway to be a part of the program, enroll in the engineering school at Morris Hills or take advantage the the school choice program for out of district enrollment in the shcool. We should be looking to develop our programs to keep the kids in our the schools and not moving or going to private schools to be in a competitive program.

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