St. Anthony's baseball head coach John Newman during a game...

St. Anthony's baseball head coach John Newman during a game on April 2, 2007. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

John Newman of Commack was all sports all the time. If he wasn’t watching his sons, Travis and Gavin, play baseball, basketball or volleyball, he could be found teaching his daughter, Gabriella, how to play basketball, volleyball or softball.

The Hall of Fame baseball coach at St. Anthony’s High School for 35 years also volunteered as the CYO boys basketball coordinator for the Christ the King Parish in Commack for the last 10 years.

Newman was all about teaching the fundamentals in all sports. According to Donna, his wife of 24 years, the retired Suffolk County Police sergeant died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer on July 12. He was 67.

"John impacted hundreds of kids through sports,” Donna said. “He represented everything that is good about being a coach and a mentor. It was what he truly loved to do. He was about teaching the fundamentals and outstanding in the way he coached every kid with patience. He just wanted kids in the gym.”

Newman was born in Rockville Centre in 1956 and grew up in Commack. He played on the basketball and baseball teams and graduated from St. Anthony’s High School in Smithtown in 1974. He got his associate degree from Nassau Community College in 1979 and then earned his degree in business administration from Dowling College in 1982.

He joined the Suffolk County Police Department in 1982 where he worked in the Third Precinct and on Fire Island. He retired from the Fourth Precinct in 2011 after 29 years.

Newman met his future wife, Donna Mauro of Lynbrook, while playing on the same co-ed softball team in 1991. The two enjoyed an eight-year romance before getting married in January 1999.

The two shared the same love for sports. Mauro was a collegiate All-American in volleyball, basketball and softball, and the most decorated female athlete in Molloy College history.

“Our honeymoon was spent in Utah skiing,” said Donna, who works as an assistant professor in Molloy’s physical education department. “Our lives were based around sports. He was truly my best friend and we had so many wonderful times together.  At the end of each day, we were there for each other, always willing to just listen or bounce the next game's strategy off one another. It was truly a match made in heaven.”

Newman forged a great bond with St. Anthony’s Hall of Fame basketball coach Gus Alfieri at the latter’s All-American basketball camp.

“He was one of the nicest guys in the world, a real sweetheart," Alfieri said. "Whenever people called me for a recommendation for personal instruction John was my go-to coach. He was all about positivity and wanted to teach players that making a mistake is all part of the game but it’s what you do with that mistake which will define you. He was always willing to listen to the players and provided valuable feedback.”

Pam LaMonda-Jaffie, a recreation specialist for CYO, said Newman’s impact in the Christ the King Parish in Commack will be felt for years to come.

“I’ve been with CYO for six years and the last two as a recreation specialist and working directly with John,” said LaMonda-Jaffie. “I am so devastated as I had gotten so attached to him and his amazing passion for kids and the game. He was so generous with his time and so giving. Everyone loved him.”

Newman recently raised enough money through candy sales to buy a basketball shooting machine for Christ the King.

“I loved going to watch my dad coach and going to his practices with him,” said his son Gavin, a three-sport athlete at Commack who is now the starting setter on the men’s volleyball team at St. John Fisher College. “I believe that’s what initially sparked my interest in baseball. We’d catch in the front yard. He’d throw me batting practice.”

“He worked tirelessly with our kids,” Donna said. “And happy he got the chance to see Gavin play college volleyball.”    

He also is survived by his brother, Steve Newman, and sister-in-law Joanne Newman of Virginia.

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