Coach Michael S. McDermott Field: Kings Park votes to dedicate JV field to late teacher, coach
By Bob Doda, Digital Producer
While working to renovate the JV baseball field at Kings Park High School in October, there were already rumblings that it could soon be renamed after Michael McDermott – a beloved coach and teacher who was killed in a hit-and-run crash over the summer.
It became a reality during a unanimous vote before Kings Park Board of Education on Tuesday, Dec. 3 – it will be known as Coach Michael S. McDermott Field.
Steve McDermott, Mike’s youngest of four brothers, called the dedication “truly special.”
“The way the community has come together to support my family and to honor my big brother has been heart-warming,” he said. “The field dedication is icing on the cake.”
Carol Passantino, the executive secretary of Kings Park Youth, says the nonprofit community sports association made it a priority to have the field renovated and dedicated in McDermott’s honor.
“I had the pleasure of working with Mike in the middle school. Not only was he a friend, but he was also my daughter’s teacher since she was in elementary school. He would make us laugh every day,” she said. “Mike had a very special way about himself that would just make you want to smile whenever you were around him, which is why I miss him very much.”
McDermott, 37, a husband and father of three young children, was killed on July 14 when an alleged drugged driver fatally struck him while he was out for a jog through the streets of St. James. Suffolk prosecutors say Keith Clancy, 32, of Mattituck, was on fentanyl during the incident. He was later apprehended more than 20 miles away on the Long Island Expressway with extensive damage to his vehicle.
After the incident, KPY contacted its members and sponsors in the hopes of renovating the field and having it dedicated to the late coach. Two fundraisers were held in August and October to help fund the field renovations on Oct. 26. Friends, family, former players and Kings Park students gathered on what was a warm and sunny morning and afternoon to reseed the field, rebuild the pitcher’s mound and home plate area, replace broken fencing – among other tasks.
During the Board of Education meeting, Jayson Forneiro, a Kings Park senior, voiced his support for the field’s renaming – saying that McDermott made a difference in his life on and off the field.
Joe Bianco, who serves on the Kings Park Board of Education, wasn’t in attendance for the vote, but asked Superintendent Dr. Timothy Eagen to read prepared remarks.
“Rebuilding the JV field was a labor of love for many of us seven years ago. It was a pleasure to turn the field over to Coach McDermott that spring and see the pride he shared in having a place that he could be proud of to play and coach the game that he loved,” said Bianco.
According to Dr. Eagen, “The district is in the process of ordering an electronic scoreboard and backstop sign that will proudly display the new official name of the field. We plan to dedicate the field in the spring at an event yet to be determined, but most likely in April.”
Those that knew McDermott say that the field dedication is fitting. Steve McDermott says he “can’t wait for spring.”
“…So that I can attend a ball game and look out at the scoreboard and sign behind the backstop, and take it all in. Mike loved what he did, and I know he’s going to love this field,” he said.