On Track and Teammates, Perseverance, and Pepsi: An Interview with Coach Carl DiSarno

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By The Photo Department

Coach: Carl DiSarno

Eye color: Blue

Hair color: Brown (or at least what’s left of it)

Birthday: 1/21/1980

Time at Stuyvesant: Four years

1. When and why did you start running?

That’s a good story. I started running in the ninth grade. Growing up, I played basketball, baseball, and football. I planned to join the football team my freshman year of high school; I even practiced with the team a little bit over the summer. But I was tiny and my mom didn’t want me to get hurt, so she told me that my cousin ran cross country and that I should try that instead.

2. What was your favorite event?

If I had to choose between cross country and track, I would choose cross country for sure. My favorite event on the track was the 5000-meter run, though my coach always made me run the 10000-meter. I didn’t have a lot of speed; I wasn’t really that fast. But I could run for a while.

3. What was your college running experience like?

It was great. It made me who I am today. I ran at Fordham in the Bronx, and all of my closest friends today are the ones who I ran with for a few years. It was an easy transition to college and a Division I team. It was like a big family, and we are still like that today. We had some cool team traditions, but none that are appropriate for the school paper. We used to have pasta parties before big meets; both the boys’ and girls’ teams would go to someone’s house and their parents would make a ton of pasta.

4. What achievement are you most proud of?

I was all New England in high school in cross country. I’m proud of that mostly because I should have accomplished that in my junior year, but I didn’t do well in the race due to many different circumstances, mostly because the weather made the ground very muddy and I didn’t own spikes. But I did accomplish that in my senior year, and I became all New England. New England is the six-state region to the east of New York. After my state meet, the top 25 meet individual runners, which I made, got to compete at the New England championships. I qualified for the state meet in my junior and senior years, and then I made it to New England my senior year.

5. What made you decide to start coaching?

I love running, and it’s something that I think is very character-building and very good for young kids in middle school and high school. I think that my experience running, whether it’s just by getting better race to race or the team comradery, is why I wanted to get into coaching to make sure that I could do for my runners what my coaches did for me. And I thought that I could do that and I wanted to do it. It is one of the main reasons I got into teaching.

6. How did you become a coach at Stuyvesant?

I had coached at Wagner Middle School and coached one of the Stuyvesant runners—senior Baird Johnson—since he was a sixth grader in middle school. When Coach Mark Mendez retired, Johnson was left as the best runner on the team because a lot of the guys had all graduated, so there wasn’t a whole lot of a cross country team to come back to. Johnson’s parents mentioned that they may have a replacement. I talked to Coach Mendez and he told me what it entailed. Even now it’s tough for me to not work at Stuy and still coach at Stuy, I realized that the kids need a coach, so I decided I could do it, and the rest is history. I guess you could say that I got to coach through the old coach, Mendez, who recommended me to Athletic Director Peter Bologna.

7. What is your advice to somebody who wants to start running?

Start slowly but be consistent with it. I actually just started running again, and last week, I did 24 miles, which is the most number of miles I’ve done in 15 years. It’s been a slow process of two, three, four mile runs since December. My other piece of advice is to make sure you have good running shoes. Even after all these years, I went to a runners shop and they fit me for sneakers. After a little while, I wanted to make sure I have the right thing for my aging body.

8. Who was your inspiration growing up?

Before I got into running, I played a lot of sports and I looked up to some professional athletes, but my biggest inspiration is both of my parents—my dad for teaching me not only how to play all the sports, but also how to play them the right way. He taught me how to lose with dignity and how to win with dignity. He taught me perseverance, which are traits that are very important for an athlete. I emulate my dad, who has coached me on every team I played on growing up, as he was an inspiration for me.

Drink of choice: Pepsi on ice

Favorite food: Chicken parmesan

Motto to live by: Never give up.

Fun fact: I’ve driven across the country three times.