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Don McIntyre, former Valley Stream track coach, dies

Coach Donald (Don) McIntyre.

Coach Donald (Don) McIntyre.

Don McIntyre was always a real sport.

Through his high school and college years, McIntyre excelled in baseball, football and hockey, but not in track and field -- the sport that would come to define his life.

When McIntyre's daughter, Lynn, was experiencing difficulty finding opportunities to run in the late 1960s, the devoted father took matters into his own hands -- forming the Valley Stream Comets, an AAU team designed to give girls the same opportunities as boys.

What followed was an accomplished career that included multiple county and state championships as the girls track and field coach at Valley Stream Central High School from 1977 through his retirement in 1988, his son Scott, 51, of Burlington, Vermont, said.

"He was one of the pioneers of girls track," Uniondale coach Leigh Pollet, who coached under McIntyre at Valley Stream Central from 1980 to 1982, said.

McIntyre died Tuesday morning at his home in upstate Queensbury, after a bout with abdominal cancer. He was 87.

McIntyre was born in Malden, Massachusetts. Before enlisting in the Army in 1945, he played semipro baseball.

When the Boston Red Sox roster was depleted during World War II, McIntyre played in scrimmages with the team at Fenway Park. However, he never would reach the major leagues.

McIntyre received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from SUNY Plattsburgh in 1952 and earned his master's degree in education there in 1955.

After college, McIntyre began a 36-year teaching career.

He was a fifth-grade teacher at Corona Avenue School in Valley Stream before he and his wife, Thelma, moved to Glens Falls in 1959. The couple returned to Malverne in 1967 and McIntyre taught at both Corona Avenue and Wheeler Avenue Elementary School in the Valley Stream school district.

When he wasn't molding young minds in the classroom, McIntyre was coaching young legs on the track, his son said, turning himself into a track expert just by absorbing as much information as possible and then imparting it to his athletes.

"He was a teacher and a coach for 90 percent of his day," Scott McIntyre said. "He was a great dad. But, he was really into coaching. He used to talk on the phone to his girls about little things like split times. It was incredible how much time he spent, not only coaching, but interacting with the girls. I think our telephone was stretched through our hallway into the living room couch more than it was on the cradle when he was home."

And the impact McIntyre had on his athletes was everlasting. Well into his retirement, he would still host former athletes at his home, treating them like an extension of his family.

"When you're younger, you don't realize that he has a family of his own," former student Ann Kiely-Cohen, 49, of Seaford said. "As you get older, you really appreciate the fact that he took the time to care, nurture, and guide us to be successful in life."

McIntyre is survived by his wife of 59 years, Thelma; daughter Lynn, of Baldwinsville, N.Y.; sons Bruce of Oneonta, N.Y., and Scott; two granddaughters, Dana and Jillian; and one great grandson, Matteo.

Visiting hours are 3-5 p.m. Saturday at the Regan & Denny Funeral Home in Queensbury. Following cremation, his ashes will be interred at Pineview Cemetery in Queensbury.

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