Former Roslyn High school boys’ basketball coach and teacher Joe Lettera was honored at the Dec. 18 school board meeting. Lettera coached from 1958 to 1989 amassing 405 total victories and an impressive 28 out of 30 winning seasons as the varsity coach. He also captured seven division titles and two trips to the Nassau County titles, including a county championship in 1980. Lettera was inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Superintendent Dr. Dan Brenner, board members and former students and players of Lettera’s spoke about the former coach who now has
his Hall of Fame plaque hanging by the memorial of his close friends and colleague, the late Walter “Renny” Witzig.
“Tonight we are celebrating the events that occurred in the last weeks and months,” said Dr. Brenner. “Coach Lettera is a storied basketball coach that led many teams to excellence and was recently put into the NYS Hall of Fame. He will forever be attached to Roslyn High School and forever be a part of the school’s history.”
School Board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy added that Coach Lettera is an embodiment of what is and ever was good about Roslyn. Retired Director of Physical Education and Athletics, Mira Marticich was the one first one to receive the Hall of Fame plaque when it arrived at the school last summer.
“Over the years, thousands of kids will walk past that plaque and that picture of Coach Lettera hanging on the wall and I hope that it will inspire them to strive to be that kind of leader and that kind of educator,” said Marticich.
Steve D’Agostino, a former student and player of Lettera’s whose athletic career was cut short by an illness, gave a moving tribute to the former coach.
“When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in my senior year, you took a bad situation and changed that outcome for me,” said D’Agostino. “I was privileged to have a coach who cared for me as a young man and cared for his team.”
D’Agostino said that even though he could no longer play sports, Lettera made him an assistant coach so he could still be part of the team.
“Thanks to Coach Lettera, I learned a lot about life and how to treat people from his courageous and passionate leadership.”