Sports

Olean High Basketball Coach Makes History With Winningest Record

a3d95331383305f3d484_bc78ba78307216c7275e_thumbnail_Hall_of_Fame_Picture.jpg
Jeff Anastasia after being inducted into the Section IV Hall of Fame in Dec. 2016 Credits: Courtesy of Jeff Anastasia
c023ab8c6045063f5849_eecd5d170db49a007ff0_thumbnail_545th_Win.jpg
The Olean Huskies after Coach Anastasia's 545th win as their coach Credits: Courtesy of Jeff Anastasia
a3d95331383305f3d484_bc78ba78307216c7275e_thumbnail_Hall_of_Fame_Picture.jpg

OLEAN, NY — On Jan. 10, while heading to an away game by bus, Olean High School basketball coach Jeff Anastasia could only think about his players defeating the Fredonia Hillbillies.

A win that Tuesday night would be his 545th, thus securing his place as the all-time winningest high school head coach in Western New York history.

Anastasia, who is 57, vowed to treat this game no differently than past contests. He instructed his players to ignore the added pressure and hype surrounding the night ahead of them. During the trip to Fredonia High School, he told his sister, Lori, who serves as the scorekeeper for the Olean Huskies, that he had not even planned out a postgame speech in the event of a victory.

Sign Up for E-News

The coach considers his attention to preparation his strongest attribute. For example, prior to each game, he views film to recognize play structure of opponents as well as his own team’s strengths and weaknesses.  

“We’re always going to be prepared,” said Anastasia. “I would feel really bad if we lost a game due to being unprepared.”

At the end of the game’s first quarter, Olean trailed Fredonia 15-13. The Huskies came back to lead 31-22 by halftime and 51-28 by the end of the third quarter. Anastasia coached the team to an eventual 70-44 victory.

“We started out slowly,” said Anastasia. “Then we just put it in another gear.”

Anastasia said the Olean community has supported him throughout his 34 years as a coach at Olean High School, the past 30 of which have been spent with the varsity team, following three years with the freshman team and one year with the junior varsity team.

“The community’s just been fantastic,” said Anastasia. “We have a great community here in Olean.”

With the victory over Fredonia, Anastasia surpassed the win count of former Bishop Timon-St. Jude basketball coach Mel Palano.

 After Anastasia tied his record, Palano who is 91, called him from Sarasota, Florida, and praised Anastasia on his commitment to coaching and his hard work over the years.   

Additionally, many people, including New York State Sen. Catharine Young and Olean Mayor William J. Aiello, sent Anastasia congratulatory cards.

Anastasia grew a love for basketball at a young age, when his father set up a basket on the family’s cinder driveway, complete with floodlights.

Anastasia, who graduated from Olean High School in 1977, knew by the time he reached his senior year that he wanted to coach basketball and teach physical education.

His high school coach, Jon Baker, served as one of his role models. Anastasia said Baker stressed the importance of maintaining a positive attitude while playing basketball, a philosophy Anastasia carries on with his players.

After being hired as a coach in the district, Anastasia sought to end the pattern of Olean basketball teams losing in the playoffs to Buffalo city schools.

 “The biggest thing when I stepped in was getting the kids to understand that they can compete with anyone,” said Anastasia.

He also taught his teams how to play tougher defense, be less timid and be more selfless. He said a team cannot be successful if the focus centers on one player instead of the entire roster.

 “Olean basketball is getting the 50/50 balls,” said Anastasia. “Olean basketball is not being afraid to get on the floor. Olean basketball is not being afraid to take a charge. Olean basketball is playing as a team.”

Under Anastasia, Olean High School has won two state championships — the first in 2003 and the second in 2016. He claims he could not have had such success without dedicated players.

“You’re not going to win the Kentucky Derby with a donkey,” said Anastasia. “I’ve had players that have bought into my system. I’ve had players that worked really hard not only during the season but in the offseason. I’ve had players that were just incredible leaders.”

Anastasia plans to continue coaching for two more seasons. Once he ends his record-setting career, he said he intends to travel the country with his wife.

(TAP's Caleb McGuire caught up with one of the stars of last year's Olean High School team.

Click here to read the story.)

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

Grandpa Practiced Sustainability

My grandpa was of the Depression Era. Sustainability wasn’t “a thing” back then — it was just the way you lived. Though he was raised in a time when you were thankful to be able to put a good meal on the table, he likely had a standard of life that we would consider average or middle class today. He didn’t grow up in a slum or shanty town, but he did understand the ...

'March for Our Lives' Started A Historic Movement

Shoes on the ground. People chanting. Signs held high. Music playing in the background.

It is the start of a historic movement. A moment when every race, gender and age came together as one. A movement that involved change and a March for Our Lives.

As a student journalist going out to the world, taking part in a national movement truly moved me. Reporting the significance of March for ...

Bonnies Historic Season Will Give Community Source of Pride Years to Come

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY -- The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball season came to an end earlier than the team had hoped. Coaches looked disappointed, and players covered their faces with towels. St. Bonaventure’s (26-8) loss to Florida (21-12) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament left many thinking what if?

However, the Bonnies historic season is nothing for the team to ...

Two Joes Scholarship Fund to preserve legacy of community businessmen

May 25, 2018

For many, a memorial scholarship is a living way to continue the memory of a loved one.

For Hank Certo and Louis “Ledgie” DeRose, the Two Joes Scholarship Fund is a way to remember two people who left a huge impact not only on both them, but also the entire community.

Certo and DeRose recently established the Two Joes Scholarship Fund in the name of community-minded businessmen ...

Golf “Fore” Heroes Fund supports Wounded warriors through golf

When he takes to the course on July 7, CJ Mackey will do so with a smile, but he will also know that there is a whole lot more to the day than birdies and bogies.

As a member of the Golf “Fore” Heroes Tournament committee, Mackey has been a part of organizing the annual tournament to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, which has now raised over $17,000 since 2016.

This ...

William D. and Catherine Griffin Fraser Fund established at CRCF

Nothing can replace the kind of love that persists and flourishes for 43 years, but William Fraser has found a way to preserve the name and memory of his late wife, Catherine Griffin Fraser.

Fraser recently established the William D. and Catherine Griffin Fraser Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation to make possible an annual scholarship and grants to the Olean General Hospital ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...