New Coach Helps Lead Beach Channel Dolphins to the Playoffs

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The Beach Channel Dolphins are jumping into the playoffs, thanks to some hard work and dedication from the players, support from family and friends and a new coach at the helm.

On Saturday, November 16 at noon, the Beach Channel Dolphins football team will kick off the playoff season for the first time in a long time. On Sunday, November 3, the team played against William E. Grady for the final game of the regular season and came out on top. Now, with a 7-2 record, they advance to the playoffs, a goal that the team has worked hard to achieve year after year, and which has been made possible, in part, due to a new coach.

About three seasons ago, coach John Crawford stepped on to the Beach Channel Campus field once again. While the coaching gig for the team was new, the field was not. Crawford graduated from Beach Channel High School in 1984, and he too, played football as a Dolphin. So when an opportunity opened up to coach the team he played for, it was serendipity.

The East Meadow resident and high school physics teacher says he couldn’t ignore the itch to get back into football as an adult. “You never really get rid of that bug to stay involved. So I was lamenting those years during my first year of teaching at Sheepshead Bay High School. I wanted to get more involved and that’s when a gym teacher introduced me to Fred Snyder. I had an informal interview with him, and he took me on to the staff as a special teams coach and I went from there,” Crawford said.

Crawford helped lead the Sheepshead Bay Sharks to success, making it to the playoffs for 17 consecutive seasons and winning three championships in that time. However, the Shark still dreamed of being a Dolphin. “I had played for Beach Channel and I always looked at their program, thinking I wanted to be with them. I was very happy at Sheepshead, but Beach Channel was the place I would’ve left Sheepshead for,” Crawford said. The choice was made for him when a decision was made in 2013 to close Sheepshead Bay High School. As the school was transitioning to a school by another name, Crawford was let go as the coach in 2015, but it worked out for the best. A position had opened up at Beach Channel a month later. “It was my dream job. Fortunately they hired me. It was one of the most fortuitous turns in my career,” Crawford said.

Building up the Beach Channel team has taken time. Last year, the team finished last in PSAL football with a 0-9 record. “We didn’t win a game,” Crawford said. But they never gave up.

“I’m proud of the kids that persevered through that. They put up with all of the stress and naysayers. When you lose, 0-9, it’s hard to show up to practice that last week, but they did, and then they showed up for off-season training. I often remind them that if you allow the process to work, good things will happen and that they should be proud of themselves for moving forward. It’s a life lesson more than just an athletics lesson,” Crawford said.

This year, the team learned that lesson had some merit. With a 7-2 record and now third in the PSAL rankings, the team has built itself back up and is going to the playoffs.

Crawford said the comeback was a group effort. Since he stepped in as coach, a Beach Channel Alumni Football association has formed, with former players throwing their support behind their alma mater. “They formed a 501c3 and allowed us to do a lot of fundraising to supplement the program,” Crawford said. Also, this year, a dedicated Football Parents Association has formed, with parents getting more involved and showing enthusiastic support for their kids and the team as a whole. “There’s a nice core of parents who are very supportive and highly involved in the program and it’s nice to see,” he said.

However most of all, Crawford credits the team that has worked hard toward their goal of making it to playoffs. “The kids seem more committed to the program. The kids can choose to either be committed or not be, and all you can do is set an example, but they’ve followed through. They showed up to practice in the offseason and they’re motivated to work out and eventually they just started holding each other accountable,” Crawford said.

Crawford says that some of his senior and junior players, who serve as captains, are at the head of that effort. The captains are running backs, Eric Pryor and Masiah Franklin, and nose tackle and offensive players, Wendell Green III, Andrew Reliford and Jadon Nembhard. “These are the guys than run the team. Some of these guys have been through some really bad seasons and have gone through trying, stressful situations, but these are the kids I trust because I know they can handle the stress of a bad situation and lead the other kids through thick and thin. They’re captains for a reason and we’re a much better football team when they’re on the field,” Crawford said.

Anything can happen when the Dolphins take the Beach Channel Campus Field on Saturday, November 16 for the first playoff game against the Stuyvesant Peglegs, currently ranked in ninth, but Crawford is hopeful. “I am cautiously optimistic, as I have been for every game. We’re going to kick off and play and that’s all I can guarantee,” he said. However, he does hope for further success.

While Crawford’s major goal was for the team to make it to the playoffs, he’s given them a reason to stay motivated. “At the end of the regular season, I told them that their goal is to ruin my Thanksgiving. If that happens, that means we’ll still be practicing then,” Crawford said.

Crawford hopes that the community will help that goal come true by showing their support on Saturday. “Come down and support the kids because they’re really excited. We’re been getting some nice support from the neighborhood, but the more, the better. It’s going to be a good game,” Crawford said.

All are welcome to cheer on the Beach Channel Dolphins at the field located at 100-00 Beach Channel Drive. General admission is $3, or $1 for students. Let’s Go Dolphins!

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