Sam Maratto was a soft voice in a loud world, but it didn’t make what he said any less meaningful. Football is a place for yellers. Fans yell, players yell, coaches yell. But, Maratto rarely did, and his players respected him for it.
“He was loved by all of them,” said Maratto’s son, Mike, who is the head football coach at Half Hollow Hills East High School. “If you ever asked a kid at random who their favorite coach was, it was ‘Coach Sam.’ “
Sam Maratto, a youth football coach who lived in Huntington for 34 years, died Jan. 31 at Hospice House in Northport. He was 65.
“There wasn’t a mean bone is his body,” said fellow youth coach and former Suffolk Police Athletic League chairman Lou Bonnanzio, 67, of South Setauket. “The kids just really took to [him]. . . . He’d give you the shirt off his back if he had to. That’s the type of guy he was.”
Born June 30, 1953, in Yonkers, Maratto went to Saunders Trades and Technical High School in Yonkers and then graduated from Westchester Community College with an associate’s degree in electrical engineering. He worked as a technical engineer at Consolidated Edison for 40 years, operating out of Brooklyn for a majority of that time. He retired in 2013.
Maratto and his wife of 41 years, Terry, lived in Yonkers before moving to Huntington in 1985.
Football was Maratto’s passion. He played on the offensive and defensive lines in high school and for the Yonkers Packers, a semiprofessional team that competed all over the state
He started coaching with the Huntington Bulldogs, a youth football organization, in the late 1980s, and eventually sat on the program’s board of directors. He left the Bulldogs in the mid-1990s.
“He had a passion for the game that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before,” Mike Maratto said. “It just ran through him.”
The coaching bug never left Maratto. He served as an offensive line coach for the freshman and junior varsity football team at St. Anthony’s High School from 2003-13.
“He was a big influence on me,” said Mike, who has been the head football coach at Half Hollow Hills East since 2014. “With him, it wasn’t always about the X’s and O’s, it was about how he reached and related to the kids. His demeanor and how he passed the information to the kids was one of the things I always found most amazing about his coaching style.”
Even though his father wasn’t on the official Half Hollow Hills East staff, or even at every practice, Mike said that his players had a remarkable affection for his father.
“The kids would flock to him,” Mike said. “He was almost like a magnet. They would listen to him. No matter what was coming out of his mouth, they believed in him 100 percent.”
Off the field, Maratto was fun-loving, family-oriented, and had a live-and-let-live outlook on life.
“There was no passing judgment on anybody,” Mike said. “He found good in everybody. . . . He never really got upset. He didn’t stress over things. He kept calm and cool in his decision making. I really think that’s something to emulate.”
Maratto was devoted to his children, Mike, Sean, and Christina. “He was very big on making sure his children got everything they needed to be the successes they are today,” Terry Maratto said.
Maratto, who grew up around farming, loved tending to his backyard garden. Carrying on a family tradition, he also made red wine.
Maratto is survived by his wife Terry, son Mike, son Sean and his wife, Mandy; daughter Christina and her husband Joel Reyes; brother Michael of Yorktown, New York, and four grandchildren.
Funeral services were Wednesday at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Greenlawn with burial at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.