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Cassata honored

Irwin Goldberg
Tom Cassata is the Section 9 Athletic Administrator of the Year

If you’ve been to a Red Hook High School athletic event in the last 20 years, you’ve likely seen Tom Cassata.

The Raiders athletic director for the last two decades is a familiar figure on fields, running around ensuring contests run smoothly.

But, just because you’ve seen him, it doesn’t mean you’ve seen all he does.

“There’s lot that he does behind the scenes people don’t see,” longtime basketball coach Matt Hayes said, “where he’s helping take care of kids who may need something.”

Cassata himself is not keen to the spotlight, preferring to praise the accomplishments of his student athletes, or the raucous atmosphere the student body creates in support of his Raiders teams.

His peers are another story, though. In mid-March, members of the New York State Athletic Administrators Association voted Cassata Athletic Administrator of the Year for Section 9.

“I’m humbled,” Cassata said. “I like to just quietly do my job. I like to recognize our kids and our coaches in our community.”

Cassata, who also won the award in 2016, was honored not only for his contributions to Red Hook but to the section and New York State Public High School Athletic Association. Among his roles, he’s on the Section 9 executive committee and is chairperson of the eligibility committee; he’s a co-chairperson for Section 9 football; and for the Mid-Hudson Athletic League he’s chairperson for girls basketball and chair or co-chairperson of the safety, eligibility and constitution committees.

He made sure to point out, most athletic directors serve various roles to make sections and leagues operate properly.

That doesn’t make it any less of a time commitment. He pointed out, he’s in attendance for the state football championships, regardless of when Red Hook’s season ends.

“Our team’s done, but I’m still running football games week to week up to the state championships,” he said. “But it’s good work. I enjoy it. I enjoy working with my colleagues in other districts. It’s important work that needs to be done.”

Hayes said there are times Cassata smooths over problems that may arise without troubling the coaches with them.

“He is very supportive, not only of our athletes, but also of coaches,” the girls basketball coach said. “You might have a parent who is unhappy with something, playing time, etc. He’s very quick to support his coaches and often won’t tell the coaches about the conversation he had.”

Hayes noted he only found out about Cassata’s award from a third party. “That’s Tom in a nutshell,” he said.

The Red Hook Central School District recognized Cassata’s honor at its Board of Education meeting March 20.

Superintendent Janet Warden called him an “exceptional administrator,” saying he is a “complete genuine person (who) cares about every student, every teacher, every program we have in the district. We are so lucky to have you.”

Cassata, characteristically, was reticent to speak on the award, but thanked his wife and family for their support and understanding given how often he works nights and weekends in service of the athletes.

“It’s a challenging job. There’s a lot that happens. The time commitment alone,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized.”

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