Irwin "Buster" Wolosky liked to spend his free periods studying football game film. So imagine the Seaford High School football coach's surprise when he arrived one morning at his office in the physical education department to find the film he wanted was missing.
"I used to steal his game films and take them home so I could start learning," said Syosset High School athletic director Rich Schaub, who began his coaching career under Wolosky at Seaford. "He comes in one day and starts yelling, 'Where the hell is my game film!' Then he started laughing. He just wanted to watch films so he could find something to make the kids better."
That was Wolosky. His sense of humor, as much as his coaching and teaching acumen, defined his life and his career. Wolosky, who coached Seaford to its first football championship in 1976, died Monday at age 76 and was buried Wednesday after a service in Woodbury that drew many former players and teachers.
"He had the comic timing of a Borscht Belt comedian, but at the same time he was concerned with his players on and off the field," said Brian Conboy, Seaford's superintendent of schools, who played football for Wolosky in the early 1970s. "He was involved in our lives. We were always welcome to come back and visit him and the team."
Wolosky coached Seaford football from 1971 to 1984 and taught health and physical education -- "that's seven syllables, not two," he was fond of saying -- in the district from 1971 until his retirement in 1996. He guided the Vikings to a conference championship in 1976 and their first Nassau County championship in 1980.
Wolosky, born in the Bronx on Aug. 10, 1936, played football at DeWitt Clinton High School and earned a scholarship to North Carolina. But injuries derailed his college football career and he eventually enrolled at Manhattan College. He taught and coached for six years at Roosevelt High School upon graduation, before coming to Seaford in 1969. He became varsity football coach two years later.
"Even when we didn't have the talent, we went into every game thinking we would win," Conboy said. "He made believers out of us. He was so passionate and had so much energy for the game of football that we wanted to win to make him proud."
In 2003, Wolosky was a volunteer assistant coach at Mepham High School in Bellmore. He was part of a five-person coaching staff that was fired after a hazing scandal was uncovered involving varsity players sexually abusing three junior varsity players at a summer camp in Pennsylvania in August. The coaches all maintained they were unaware of what had occurred.
"He was well-respected by the faculty and his former students at Seaford," said his close friend and teaching colleague Frank Rizzi, who first met Wolosky during their freshman year at Manhattan College in 1958 and who retired from Seaford the same year. "His players and students loved his sense of humor. Coach is not the proper term for him. Teacher is the proper term. He taught in the classroom and on the field. He taught life."