An Interview With a SuperCoach


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Cover Image
By The Photo Department

Coach John Carlesi

Height: 5’7

Eye color: Brown

Hair color: Who knows? He’s bald.

Birthday: 8/29/1967

Coaching at Stuy for 17 years.

1. How did you get into coaching?

Well, since I was a little kid, my family purchased a baseball camp and I was always around top-notch coaches. During my senior year of college, I was asked to coach the junior varsity team and to be a starter on the varsity team. After college, since I didn’t get picked up by any major league team, I decided to go into teaching, which led me to becoming a coach. I started at Lincoln High School as the junior varsity coach.

2. How did you get to Stuyvesant from Lincoln?

Long story—the Stuyvesant baseball team was coming down to a baseball camp in Florida, which my family owned. As I was working there, the former coaches asked if I would work with some players. The second year Stuyvesant went down to Florida, that’s when they asked if I was interested in coming on as a coach because the former coach was going to retire.

3. What is your favorite memory so far during your time coaching at Stuyvesant?

It was 2008. We were 6-8, and we had to be .500 to make the playoffs. It came down to the last two games against Beacon, which has always been a big rival. We won the first game, and then, we had to win the second game. It came down to the bottom of the seventh at [Pier 40], and a kid hit a walkoff to get us into the playoffs. It was exciting.

4. What is the funniest thing that’s happened during your time coaching?

There are so many funny things. It’s more of what Stuyvesant players say instead of do because of the lack of common sense. We were leaving NYC during Easter break, and they had to deice the plane. One of the players noticed all the smoke around the plane and asked me what they were doing. I told him they were deicing the plane because there was snow coming down. After a week went by in Florida, we were boarding the plane on Easter Sunday, and as we got on the plane, the same kid noticed the condensation coming down from the AC unit on the plane. He turned to me and said, “Look, coach. They must be deicing the plane.” I looked at him with that “are you serious” face, and I said to him: “It’s 93 degrees outside, and we’re in Florida. What ice?” He looked at me and said: “Oh yeah, I forgot.” That was the funniest thing that was said. The funniest thing that ever happened is when a kid slid one time and lost his pants in the middle of a game. He stood up and didn’t realize it, and he was just standing there in his jockstrap.

5. What is the biggest challenge as a coach?

At Stuyvesant, coaches obviously get what they get. They can’t pick and choose their athletes. So, every year, coaches are in the dark of what types of athletes are coming in, and you hope that you can get two or three athletes each year.

6. What’s the best individual performance by a Stuyvesant player that you’ve seen?

It had to be Nolan Becker’s (‘09) perfect game with all strikeouts. There was only one foul ball and it was a very late swing. There was one batter he actually went 3-0 on and he came back and threw three straight strikes and struck him out. We mercied the team in six innings, so it was 18 strikeouts that game. That year, he was a senior and he won the Wingate award, which is like the Heisman Trophy of high school sports. His plaque is actually in [Peter] Bologna’s office. Nobody [respected] the perfect game; they kept talking to him and laughing with him, and I was getting mad. Nobody realized until about the fourth inning that nobody had gotten on base yet.

7. What advice do you have for young athletes?

Follow your dreams. If you want something hard enough, you’ll work at it and you’ll find the time to put into it. You’ll find your academic time and you’ll find your athletic time and you need to balance both of them out because being on a team is probably the coolest thing you can do in high school.

8. What were you looking forward to most about this season before the coronavirus hit?

I wanted to see how the younger guys were going to cope with it, since the sophomores are pretty much the key to our season this year. Other than the four seniors, they make up the base of the whole team. I really wanted to see how [the] guys were going to do under pressure and I wanted to see some of [those] guys’ first time playing on varsity baseball. I liked what I saw in the fall and at the beginning of the season, but I would’ve liked to see it under pressure and in league games.

Drink of Choice: Iced Tea

Favorite food: Dumplings

Motto to live by: It’s a good day when you wake up breathing.

Fun fact: I love superman.