Garnets’ Athletic Director Rob Castagna Moving on to New Turf
By Mitch Silver
“It’s been a great 21 years. But now it’s time to do something else,” said Rob Castagna, Director of Rye High’s Health, Physical Education, and Athletic Department since 2003 and a teacher who started in the Rye system in 1994, said looking around his office. The walls — in fact, all the available surfaces — are covered with trophies and team photos. “I don’t know how I’ll ever get this stuff packed; I linger over every picture. So many memories.”
But pack up he will. Starting July 1, Castagna will be the new A.D. at Byram Hills High School. “It’s a great opportunity for me to take what I’ve learned here and build on what they’re doing up in Armonk.”
He helped initiate the Athlete of the Week program (“I have to thank Ross at Piazza Pizza in a big way”), as well as the joint Rye High/Lions Club Athlete of the Month program, which includes academics and community service in deciding the awards.
One of the major things he says he learned in Rye was the importance of physical education and athletics for girls. “Since 2003, we’ve added squash, crew, sailing, and rugby. In every case, they’re co-ed sports. In Rye, we have one the strongest programs for female athletes in the state.” Rob acknowledges his family back home in Ridgefield, Connecticut, has raised his consciousness. “My wife Tracy and my daughters Juliet and Jadyn are strong influences, no doubt about it.”
Castagna started his career in sports on a bet. As a New Rochelle ninth grader, a friend dared him to go out for the wrestling team. By his 1983 graduation, Castagna was an accomplished varsity wrestler, football player, and discus thrower/shot putter on the Huguenots’ track team. He attended Central Connecticut State before transferring home to Iona, where he studied Secondary Education and School Administration. After graduation, he was a physical education and health teacher in the Mount Vernon system, coaching the varsity football and track teams. At the same time he served as summer sports director at Apawamis for 15 years.
“You know, every time I’d drive up to Apawamis I’d look to my right, over at Rye High, and think, ‘I’d like to teach there some day.’ And one day, my dream job became my real job!”
What will he miss when he leaves Rye in a couple of months? “The tradition, the history here. Rye is more like a college than a high school that way. I’ll especially miss the relationships with the kids, their families, the coaches and teachers — you get to know people in a different, maybe deeper way when you interact with them after, as well as during, school.”
Praise for Castagna has come pouring in. John Aguilar, Rye Boys’ varsity basketball coach, said, “Rob’s been a great mentor, leader, and friend. He understands that our strong sense of community, Garnet pride, fuels the athletic program. Rob is always looking for ways to get the student body involved and excited about our sports programs.”
Garnet football coach Dino Garr added, “Rob has always supported the teams and coaches throughout his tenure as A.D. He’ll be greatly missed at Rye and will be an outstanding addition to Byram Hills school district. He is a gentleman and role model, leaving a legacy for all to follow.”
Mike Bruno, Rye’s varsity baseball coach, said, “It’s bittersweet to see Rob leave. He’s been a friend for the 14 years I have been at Rye. I am truly happy for him and his family; he’ll be tough to replace. Byram is lucky to have him.”
I asked the departing Athletic Director if he had any last words after 21 years in Rye? “I just wish I could shout out, ‘thank you so much!’ to everyone here. Actually, make that ‘Thank You!’ with a capital T and a capital Y.”