By Joe Morreale
The Westbury Board of Education honored Donald Ross, the varsity track head coach for 41 years, following his recent retirement from the district by renaming the track in his honor over the 2023 Homecoming weekend in October.
“I’m trying to make a way for these kids to get out of Westbury and go out and be a better person,” Ross told the board at its October meeting. “That’s my motivation — to make the Westbury High School students better people in society because we’ve always been looked at as not being able to go all the way and finish.”
Members of the school board, which includes several Westbury High School alumni, had only kind words for Ross as they passed the motion to rename the track and approve his retirement. “Westbury educators have an ability to take people and make them feel like they belong,” said board Vice President Floyd Ewing. “Coach Ross is a pillar of this community, pillar to this district, doing a great job of mentoring the new soon-to-be coaches of Westbury track.”
Ross started his journey with the track program as a standout student athlete and member of the 1974 graduating class.
“Donald is like so many other graduates. They always go out, gain their experiences and expertise, and come back and give back,” said board Trustee Dr. Pless Dickerson. “He is a prime example of this, giving back to the students of [the] Westbury community.”
“Westbury love is real love,” Ewing said. “My son has grown immensely just by being on your team. Sometimes they don’t want to listen to their father, but you guide all the track members — male and female — to be wonderful human beings.”
Westbury Superintendent Dr. Tahira DuPree Chase had high praise for Ross. “I just want to thank you, on behalf of all the scholars you have coached, for a job well done. Congratulations on your retirement. Please continue to mentor, please continue to do what you do. You have left such an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of so many people.”
Referring to the track team, Trustee Robert Troiano said, “You’ve made them better athletes, you’ve made them better scholars, and perhaps most importantly, you’ve made them better people.”
Several Westbury track alumni joined in the high school’s Homecoming rally on Oct. 14.
“When we knew that we were going to dedicate this track to you, it was a split-second decision,” Trustee Michelle Wilson told Ross. “I sent out texts to fellow alumni, and within seconds I got replies. And I knew that some of them were out of state, but they were resolute in their minds that they were going to be there. And that’s just a testament to you.”
The motion to rename the track in Ross’ honor passed unanimously.
Ross was named Coach of the Year by the Nassau County Track Coaches Association several times in his 40-plus years at Westbury. He continues to serve as a mentor to the coaching staff of Eric Banks, Darin Harrison, and Drew Harrison, and said he looks forward to remaining involved with the team.