Vinny Mascia always had a game plan.
From summer workouts to preseason camp to third-and-long and fourth-and-one, he had a course of action mapped out well in advance.
When it came to stepping down as East Meadow football coach, Mascia also had a plan.
He just didn’t think he’d have to implement it now.
From the time his son Matt signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of New Hampshire two years ago, Vinny Mascia put the plan in place – once Matt was able to step on the field and play, he would retire from coaching East Meadow.
That became a reality following New Hampshire’s spring game in late April when it was evident that Matt, who redshirted his freshman year, was going to be in serious contention for playing time on an offensive line that graduated four seniors.
Suddenly, a decision Vinny thought was maybe a year or two away was upon him and he didn’t waver.
“That was the plan. I kind of laid the plan out and knew what the plan was,” Mascia said. “When it happened, it was OK, now’s the time. This is what I was going to do. Now it’s time to carry it out.”
That’s not to say it’s easy for Mascia to step down after an association with East Meadow that spans five decades.
“It’s very bittersweet,” Mascia said. “It was a tough, but the plan was set and I knew what I was doing.”
Respected peers and friends, including legendary Farmingdale coach Buddy Krumenacker, who reached out to Mascia when he started as East Meadow coach in 1998, also endorsed Mascia’s retirement game plan.
“They reinforced what I was thinking,” Mascia said. “They basically said there’s no option here. You have to go and watch your kid play. It’s as simple as that.”
Mascia, who played at East Meadow in 1978 after transferring from Holy Trinity, started his coaching career as a 21-year-old defensive coordinator at Clarke HS. He spent four years there and four years as an East Meadow assistant coach before five years on his brother Tony’s staff at Holy Trinity.
The final two years at Holy Trinity – 1994 and 1995 – Tony allowed Vinny to serve as the head coach to prepare him for what was to come at East Meadow, where he was an assistant coach in 1996 and 1997 before taking over as head coach in 1998.
Mascia had a 104-68 record in 19 years as head coach at East Meadow, winning a pair of Nassau Conference I titles, beating Freeport in 2006 and again in 2011.
In addition to those championships, Mascia said some of his fondest memories were his first game in charge – a 6-0 victory at Plainview-JFK and the first trip to Hofstra in 2003 with a team that included future NFL player Rich Ohrnberger.
There were also the two additional trips to Shuart Stadium for the Nassau Conference I semifinals with Matt anchoring the offensive line.
But more than wins and loses, it was about the bond built during the week, both with players and coaches, and that feeling when he woke up on game days.
“When you’re a coach, that feeling you have in your belly on a Saturday morning, if you can bottle that, you’d be a millionaire,” Mascia said.
Mascia informed his returning players and the East Meadow alumni that he was stepping down, ending each statement the same way.
“I’m sure there have been plenty of better coaches at East Meadow High School, but there has never been, nor will there ever be, a prouder coach,” Mascia said.
Coaching is, and probably always will be, in Mascia’s blood and he said he’d like to coach middle school football this fall and hasn’t ruled out a return after Matt graduates from New Hampshire in four years.
Now, he’ll get to be a football dad, traveling the country watching Matt play.
“It’s going to be a really fun four years,” Mascia said. “We’re going to share a lot of things together, home games and away games. Next year they open at the University of Colorado. It’s four years I’m sure we’re going to talk about for the rest of our lives.”
Don’t think, though, that Mascia will make a clean break from East Meadow. In fact, a bye week for New Hampshire in October means he can attend the East Meadow-Farmingdale game. And a game at Stony Brook on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m., will allow Mascia to see the Jets play Syosset.
Mascia said he’s already worked with his successor, Doug Bange, who was the East Meadow JV coach, with the budget and fundraising efforts. And East Meadow principal Rich Howard, a former baseball standout at St. John’s University and quarterback under Mascia, has been helpful.
Mascia might not be on the sideline in the fall, but East Meadow football will always be close to his heart.
“You cut me open and I bleed blue and gold. There will never be a cut from East Meadow football,” Mascia said. “Now I will be their No. 1 fan.”