Donald Ross has influenced and shaped countless lives in four decades of coaching track and cross country at Westbury High School.
In addition to numerous championship titles, his charges have won full scholarships to an impressive list of schools: Dartmouth, Hampton, Indiana, Marshall, Penn State, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Albany, South Carolina and Syracuse. Many of his squads have been recognized by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association as Scholar-Athlete Teams for achieving a 90 or better team average.
These coaching achievements have not gone unrewarded. His peers in the Nassau County Track Coaches Association named him the “Coach of the Year” several times. He earned a “Coaches Special Recognition Award” from U.S.A. Track & Field Long Island division.
This past November, Ross was presented with the “World Coaches Award” at the 2C2W World Coaches Day Awards gala at the Jericho Terrace in Mineola. A press released stated that 2C2W, formed in 2010, “is an enterprise with one of the most successful youth track and field teams in the Northeastern United States. 2C2W has produced 26 All-American athletes in track and field over the past five years.”
According to Clive Walters of 2C2W, “To be eligible for the award, coaches must have made an outstanding contribution to their sport and have demonstrated a commitment to coaching education.”
The certificate of appreciation praised Ross for being a “mentor, guide, friend and role model, and you exemplify all of these traits. In recognition of all your hard work as a coach and motivator in making your athletes perform to the best of their abilities, this award is a small gesture of appreciation for your dedication to your craft.”
On the 2C2W websiste touting the gala, Walters stated, “On this day, we encourage everyone to show their appreciation for coaches by supporting their efforts. In a time of uncertainty and anxiety, coaches provide a much-needed sense of stability and support. They help athletes stay motivated and find positive ways to cope with stress. For many, the coach is the one person who truly believes in their ability. By supporting coaches on this day, we can help to ensure that they continue to make a difference in the lives of their athletes,”
He added, “It is also a day to promote the importance of coaching and to encourage more people to get involved in this rewarding profession. On World Coaches Day, we celebrate the power of coaching to transform lives and build stronger communities as together, we can create a brighter future for all,”
In addition, the veteran coach was chosen as Grand Marshal of the high school’s homecoming parade.
A biography in the homecoming day program noted that the Texas-born Ross moved with his mother, Jerlean Ross, sister Patricia Denice and brother Gary Wayne to Westbury at a young age. He was a standout football and track athlete at Westbury High School, graduating in 1974. He minored in coaching at Wilberforce University in Ohio and started at Westbury High School as a substitute teacher. Encouraged by the principal and athletic director at the time, he began as an assistant track and field coach. In 1981, he took the head coaching position and has held it since.
The program, after listing his numerous outstanding athletes, noted that he “helped to make Westbury a nationally known and respected program in the sphere of high school track and field.” It added that Ross has served the district as “a dedicated and exemplary security guard since 1996. Mr. Ross is committed to motivating student/athletes to reach their full potential and achieve lofty goals at Westbury High School and for some at the collegiate level as well.”
In an interview with Anton Media Group after being named the county’s “Coach of the Year” in 2014, Ross said, “On my team we’re looking for kids who are doing well academically as well as athletically. Education is our bread and butter because a solid education and a diploma and a degree can mean a good job.”
In the same article, Westbury Athletic Director Doric Capsis praised Ross for being “dedicated to the sport of track and field 365 days a year.”
“His philosophy, which I wholeheartedly agree with, is to provide the students with competitions beyond the league meets which will challenge our athletes and bring forth their greatest achievement,” said Capsis. “He does not rest on past accomplishments nor does he allow his teams to do so.”