For the first time since the Reagan administration, the North Salem Varsity Boys Basketball Team will be coached by someone not named Henry Sassone. For the last 35 years, Coach Sassone built a legendary resume that includes 414 wins, four Section 1 Championships, countless Coach of the Year awards, and a New York State Basketball Hall of Fame induction. For a town with more horses than people, North Salem has a basketball program that is the envy of Westchester County and while the team will tip off in December as usual, North Salem needs to pause and salute the legacy and commitment of Coach Sassone.
Coach Sassone's coaching resume only tells part of the story and it was benieth the surface that his impact on North Salem was most felt. When Coach Sassone started coaching the team in 1984, the Town of North Salem did not have any organized opportunities for young boys and girls to play basketball before they could play at the interscholastic level. Coach Sassone expressed the need for a feeder program and worked with the community to start one. Starting as a weekly pick-up game, the North Salem Youth Basketball Program has evolved to offer leagues and travel teams for all ages. Sassone's legacy will forever live through the development of the young men who have had the privilege of playing for him. These players learned lifelong values from Sassone, whose morally-anchored coaching style always put sustainable lessons above short-term gains. North Salem has approximately 200 men who are better professionals, community members, sons, husbands, and fathers because of Henry Sassone.
Legend has it that when the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi told his youngest daughter that he got the Packers coaching job and the family would be moving to Green Bay from their home in New Jersey, she told him that she couldn't find Green Bay on a map. Lombardi's response? "When my job there is done, Green Bay will be on that map." After 35 years at the helm of the basketball program, Coach Sassone put our little town of North Salem on the map just like Lombardi.
On Tuesday, October 22nd, the Lower Hudson Basketball Coaches Association (LHBCA) announced the creation of the Henry Sassone Legacy Award to honor coaches who have left an incredible mark on local basketball as Coach Sassone has. As coaches all over the region have already done, it is now time for this town to say "Thank You" to Coach Sassone and for the school district's administration and the Athletic Booster Club to properly enshrine his legacy. I can think of no better way than by naming the high school gymnasium in Coach Sassone's honor. With its contruction and design led by Sassone over 20 years ago in his capacity as athletic director, the gym is quite literally "The House that Henry Built." I strongly urge Interim Athletic Director Denise Kiernan and Booster Club President Kristen Connolly to lead their respective administrative and Booster Club colleagues and collaborate to celebrate and enshrine Coach Sassone's legacy by establishing the Tigers' home court as the Henry Sassone Gymnasium.