Edited on Jan. 23, 2019, at 1:25 p.m.
Mike Ambrosio, Frank DeMasi were long-time coaches and physical education teachers at their respective schools
By ROB JONAS
Former Colonie varsity football coach Mike Ambrosio and current Duanesburg cross country coach Frank DeMasi passed away over the holiday weekend from heart attacks.
“Last couple of days have been terrible,” said Joseph Guardino, Colonie Central High School Athletic Director. “This was not anywhere forseen in any way. He was still very active with us.”
Ambrosio, 64, was Colonie’s varsity football coach from 1997 to 2011, guiding the Garnet Raiders to three Section 2 Super Bowls. DeMasi coached cross country at Duanesburg from 1998 until his passing Sunday.
“Frank [was a] humble, quiet, gentle man who had a passion for running,” wrote Penny Hardenstine, Duaneburg’s Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics. “He was extremely knowledgeable about the sport of running. He cared about all of his runners whether they were a seventh grade modified runner coming into the sport for the first year, or a seasoned senior.”
“I coached cross country with Frank at Duanesburg for the past six years,” wrote Duanesburg girls cross country coach Deann Lynch. “Frank coached all three of my sons between 2004 and 2017. He was one of the most dedicated coaches I have ever met. He cared deeply for each of his runners from the number one runner to the guys at the back of the pack.”
Ambrosio was also a long-time physical education teacher at Colonie Central High School and coached a variety of sports before retiring last year. He continued to work as a substitute teacher and was visible at Colonie wrestling matches and Capital District Jets hockey games as a chaperone up until his death.
“He worked here Friday as a substitute phys ed teacher,” said Guardino.
DeMasi coached track and field at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons in Schenectady before going to Duanesburg. He was well known and respected within the cross country and running communities.
“He was an encyclopedia for statistics on running and could recite runners and finish times from past events, including the precise year and invitational/event from 20+ years ago,” wrote Hardestine in an e-mail.
“Wherever we traveled with the teams, everyone knew Frank and always took time to speak with him and share stories,” added Lynch. “He was extremely knowledgeable about running, and willingly shared his expertise with the runners and his coaching knowledge with me.”
Both men’s greatest legacies didn’t center around their coaching accomplishments, but around how they related with their athletes and their parents, as well as with their co-workers.
“He’s always done the right things,” Guardino said about Ambrosio. “He loved having kids around him. He approached all of the sports seemingly the same way and all of the people the same way.”
“He was an icon within the running community and Section 2. Everyone knew and respected Coach DeMasi,” wrote Hardenstine. “He will be greatly missed.”
Fort Plain Athletic Coordinator Charlie Karker – who also coaches cross country and track at the school – wrote the following about DeMasi:
“Frank has been around running as a competitor as a student and into his adult years, [and] is best known around Section 2 as a coach of several highly successful programs. He coached cross country and track at Bishop Gibbons and Duanesburg for many decades. He [had] a number of individuals qualify for state and regional competitions.
“Frank was a humble, honest and genuine good, solid person. I am proud to be called a friend of his. We have coached runners for over four decades. Some of my runners have run on the same team with his runners for Junior Olympic races (Crosstown Striders).
“His knowledge of area runners and the history of Section 2 athletes was matched by no one. He was an encyclopedia when it came to running and athletes in our area. He knew information about not just his runners, but also what other runners were doing whether they were at a small school or a large school.
“Frank will truly be missed in the running community, our league [the Western Athletic Conference] and throughout Section 2.”