Allan Van Nostrand was a quiet man who chose his words carefully. As he always said, he let his tennis racket do the talking.
The stories it could tell.
Van Nostrand, the longtime coach of the Bay Shore High School varsity boys tennis team, died on Aug. 13. He was 81.
"It was what he did, not what he said," said his daughter Lynn. "He was a gentle, quiet guy who wasn't intimidating and yet you didn't want to disappoint him."
The Brightwaters resident and Bay Shore graduate won the 1949 Long Island Doubles Championship in high school with his younger brother, King. He played basketball and tennis at SUNY Cortland, where he won the Rider College Invitational singles title.
After serving two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, winning the All-Service Doubles Championship in Guam and the Far Eastern Doubles Championship in Japan in 1954, Van Nostrand began teaching history at Bay Shore in 1955 and started coaching shortly after. During his 30-year coaching career, his teams captured 10 county championships, 19 league titles and had a record of 401-74. Van Nostrand, the 1985 New York State tennis coach of the year, guided Bay Shore to 173 consecutive wins from 1966 to 1974, a streak that once stood as a national record.
He used innovative techniques in the classroom, including a fund he established that enabled each freshman class to invest in the stock market and, after four years, use the proceeds for senior class events.
"He had a great way of applying history to what was going on at the present time," said Don Sacco, 44, of Brightwaters, Van Nostrand's former student and tennis player (1980-85). "I think that was his gift in coaching, also. He showed you how to apply the skills you brought into the match and how to be successful with what you had."
A Hall of Fame inductee at both SUNY Cortland and Bay Shore High School, he was also one of 12 members of the Van Nostrand tennis family inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame.
"Everything he did, I wanted to do because he was my hero growing up," said his brother, King, who also taught and coached at Bay Shore. "He was one heck of a classy guy. Full of dignity, loved by many, respected by all."
Van Nostrand was the tennis pro at Bay Shore's Southward Ho Country Club for 50 years, until his retirement in 2002. He was also an accomplished painter, mostly of seascapes.
"My father lived his life with a great command over common sense and decency," said Allan Van Nostrand Jr., who is now the tennis pro at Southward Ho. "He was always striving to be the best person he could be."
Services were held Aug. 16 at Fredrick J. Chapey and Sons Funeral Home in West Islip. Van Nostrand is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary; his children, Susan, Lynn, Allan Jr. and Amy; his brother, King; and grandchildren, Samantha, Grace, Scott, Myles, Allan III and Alexa.