By Mike Zummo
Alex Danon woke on March 13 – the first day of spring practice – and for the first time in his adult life, he didn’t have a team to coach.
He called the feeling “odd,” and instead of putting equipment bags together, stringing nets or writing practice plans, he was writing a letter to his former players and the Wallkill Senior High School community that he would no longer be coaching Wallkill’s boys’ lacrosse team.
In less than a month, he will no longer be employed by the district.
Danon recently accepted an administrative position as director of data for the Rondout Valley School District, causing him to step down as the Panthers’ coach. He will be succeeded by assistant coach Jordan Taylor, and modified coach Gabriel Carbone has been promoted to varsity assistant coach.
“I know this was a surprise to everyone, and it was certainly not a decision that I made lightly, but after lots of thought and discussion with my family friends and mentors, I feel this was a decision I had to make for the best interest of my family and my career,” Danon wrote.
He has been the Panthers’ coach for the last six years, taking over a team that had gone 0-14 the year before he arrived and compiled a 4-54 record the previous four years. Since Danon became coach, the Panthers have gone 49-16, made the Section 9 playoffs all four years, won three straight division championships and made three straight appearances in the Section 9 championships and won a championship in 2021. Last season was a record-breaking season for the Panthers that saw them win 15 games, a new school record.
He has also coached two all-Americans: Dylan Jowell (2021) and Richie Martinez (2022). They’ve also had a U.S. lacrosse Academic All-American in all four seasons: Colin McCartney (2022), Chad Castle (2021), Ryan Lavella (2019) and Alexander Lewis (2018).
“Our players committed to being their very best for themselves and each other and we saw the results of that every day,” Danon wrote.
Taylor joined the program at the same time Danon did, and Danon said he takes comfort knowing his former assistant will be taking the reins.
“He is just as responsible for our success as anyone else,” Danon said.
Danon thanked the parents for entrusting him with their sons, and he told his former players that while he may no longer be their coach, he will always be their supporter.
“Know that I will always be here for you if you need anything and I love each and every one of you,” Danon wrote. “Thank you for always giving me your best and making our program something we can be proud of. Thank you for being good role models for our youth kids and my own children. They love you just as much as I do, and watching the way you interacted with them was always some of the best parts of my day.”