Coach Vince O'Connor

Remembering Coach Vince O'Connor from St. Francis Preparatory School.

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Coach Vince O'Connor

The son of Irish born parents, Vincent O'Connor was born in Brooklyn and attended Holy Name Elementary School and Manual Training High School (later renamed John Jay High School). While attending high school, Mr. O'Connor participated in varsity football, track, the school orchestra and served as school president. During this time he was active in the parish of St. Francis Xavier and was greatly influenced by the spiritual leadership of the Rev. John Kean.

After high school, Mr. O'Connor worked as a machinist for three years before entering the U.S. Army and serving eight­een months in Korea. Upon his discharge, he entered the Physical Education program at New York University and was appointed the J.V. Football Coach at St. Francis Prep by Bro. Timothy Walsh, O.S.F.

During his senior year at New York University Mr. O'Connor was appointed the varsity coach at St. Francis Prep by Brother Cypdan Zorskis, O.S.F. His coaching career was marked by early success as the Terriers won the Catholic High School Championship in 1955, his first year as varsity coach.  

After graduation from New York University with a B.S. in Physical Education, Mr. O'Connor attained an M.S. in Health and Physical Education from Brooklyn College plus an M.A. and Professional Diploma in Guidance and Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

In 1957, one year after teaching Biology at St. Francis Prep, Mr. O'Connor returned to Manual High School as a teacher of physical education. After nine years he was appointed guidance counselor at G. Westinghouse High School. One year later, Mr. O'Connor was selected as the guidance counselor for the "College Bound" program at S.J. Tilden High School.

During this same period, Mr. O'Connor served as coach of field events for the track team at St. Francis Prep for eight years (1953-1961). He also was head track coach at John Jay High School for four years (1962-1966).

In January 1971, Mr. O'Connor was appointed as Assistant Principal (supervision) for Health and Physical Education in School District 19, in the East New York area of Brooklyn. He served on many committees associated with the field of Health and Physical Education, and has also been a member of a variety of professional and social organiza­tions. In 1984, he was named an Honorary Alumnus of St. Francis Prep.

The Varsity Football Program at the Prep has achieved an outstanding record of success under Mr. O'Connor's leadership, and he attributes much of this to the dedication and skill of the assistant coaches who have served with him.

Under Coach O'Connor, the St. Francis Prep Varsity Football Team has recorded 325 victories over the course of 60 seasons (the 2014 season was his 60th at the helm) and they have won 16 CHSFL Championships (with undefeated seasons in 1957, '64, '66, '72, '73, and '83), including the 2005 CHSFL Championship victory over St. Peter's - the 300th win. Numerous St. Francis Prep Football Student Athletes have gone on to play at the college level and in the professional ranks.

Coach O'Connor was honored as National Coach of the Year in 1992, and he has been named New York's Catholic High School Coach of the Year on twenty occasions. He has also served as President of the CHSFL.

In 2000 he was the recipient of The Frank McGuire Foundation Award which recognizes high school coaches whose dedication and skill have a positive impact on young lives. In 2005 he was inducted into the Catholic Education Foundation Hall of Fame, and in 2009 he was presented with the Round Tower Award by the Irish American Building Society’s Great Irish Fair Committee.

His loving and devoted wife, Mary; his son, Martin and his wife Anne; his daughter, Maryrose and her husband Patrick King; and his four grandchildren, Connor, Patrick, Dylan, and Siobhan have been his inspiration, and he has worn the label "Devoted Husband, Father, and Grandfather" as proudly as his title of "Coach."

In celebration of more than 60 years of extraordinary service, and as a permanent tribute to Coach O’Connor’s selfless and tireless work with thousands of young student athletes from all walks of life, St. Francis Prep has established The Vincent and Mary O'Connor Scholarship Fund and has dedicated The Coach Vince O’Connor Physical Education and Athletic Training Center.

God bless this wonderful man. May he rest in peace. His legacy will endure!