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Robert Young, a pioneer in gaining equality for girls sports in Section XI, dies at 92

Young facilitated the merger between Section XI, which oversaw only boys athletic programs in the early 1970s, and the Suffolk County Girls Athletic Association, which oversaw all girls athletic programs.

Robert Young, who served as Section XI president

Robert Young, who served as Section XI president from 1973-75 and associate director from 1982-87, died Nov. 30 at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, North Carolina, his family said. He was 92. Photo Credit: Family photo

Even though Robert Young left Long Island more than 30 years ago, his impact on Suffolk County high school athletics is felt every day. Young, who served as both president and associate director for Section XI, the governing body for Suffolk County high school sports, was instrumental in bringing female sports into the mainstream.

 “Bob was known for always doing the right thing," said former Section XI executive director Cathy Gallagher. "He just felt it was time.”

Young facilitated the merger between Section XI, which oversaw only boys high school athletic programs in the early 1970s, and the Suffolk County Girls Athletic Association, which oversaw all girls athletic programs. The move helped bridge the gender equality gap and brought uniformity to how the sports were governed.

“That was a first in New York State, if not beyond,” said Gallagher, 81, of South Windsor, Connecticut.  “Section XI led New York State in that whole concept of absorbing the girls programs into one working and functioning organization. That was a major step and I would give Bob Young the credit for that.”

Young, who served as Section XI president from 1973-75 and associate director from 1982 to 1987, died Nov. 30 at Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, North Carolina, his family said. He was 92.

In addition to opening up Suffolk athletics to girls, Young spearheaded the modernization of the county’s athletic scheduling system, Gallagher said. Before the widespread use of computers, Young led a group of athletic directors who would meet three times a year and make the schedules by hand. It was a long, arduous process, but Young did it well.

“It would take an entire day,” Gallagher said. “He knew what he was doing as far as scheduling.”

After some gentle prodding from Gallagher, Young embraced the idea of letting computers do the scheduling, working with a programmer to come up with a system similar to the one used today, Gallagher said.

Young lived in Levittown, Huntington Station and Muttontown before he and his wife, Audrie Thomas Young, retired to Etowah, North Carolina, in 1987. They had been married for 68 years when she died in 2016.

“He was so highly respected by his colleagues in the area of interscholastic athletics,” Gallagher said. “I cried the day he left.”

Born on Feb. 11, 1926, in Southold, Young graduated from Southold High School in 1943. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and then graduated from Cortland State Teachers College with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1949. He earned a master's degree in education from Hofstra University in 1953, and a post-masters degree in school administration from New York University in 1960.

Young was the recreation director for the Suffolk County Second Supervisory BOCES in 1949-1950 and was director of health, physical education, athletics and recreation for the Island Trees Public Schools in Levittown from 1950 to 1965. He then served as district supervisor for health, physical education, recreation, athletics and health services for the South Huntington Union Free School District until his retirement from that position in 1981. 

A sprinter at Cortland, Young was inducted into the Cortland C-Club Hall of Fame in 1984.

Young enjoyed baking, specializing in chocolate chip cookies, said daughter Robin Young Sears of Woodstock, New York. He also was an avid gardener and golfer, and enjoyed spending days clamming in Oyster Bay, she said.

“He had an outgoing personality,” Sears said. “He enjoyed working with people.”

Young is survived by Sears and his other daughter, Cynthia Young Sadrakula of Bedford, New York,  two granddaughters; and 21 nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life and an internment will take place on a yet-to-be-determined date in the spring at the Cutchogue cemetery.

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