SENECA FALLS — If ever there was a time to double-take at a December headline, this would be it:
Mynderse Academy head football coach Joe Caraher has been named the Rochester Region Coach of the Week by the Buffalo Bills.
In the midst of the season’s first significant snowstorm and after not a single down of football was played across the entire state of New York this past fall, coaches have still managed to leave an impact on players and students.
The Bills and ADPRO Sports partnered again this year to recognize some of the best coaches in Western New York has through the 2020 High School Football Coach of the Week program and it has provided another avenue to award service.
“It felt great, I was really surprised,” Caraher said. “I didn’t learn about it until Sunday night. I still try and keep all my kids involved mostly through the weight room as soon as they gave me permission to open that up. I’m just trying to keep our numbers up and keep the kids involved and interested in football.”
Each winning Coach of the Week receives a $700 grant from the Buffalo Bills and a $1,000 merchandise credit to ADPRO Sports.
Caraher has been involved with Mynderse Academy for over two decades both as a student and educator. In addition to teaching math, Caraher has coached wrestling, lacrosse for 13 years and has been the head football coach since 2016. Caraher guided the Blue Devils to a league title in 2018 and was named Finger Lakes Co-Coach of the Year.
Since there was no season in 2020, the Coach of the Week honors emphasizes a coach’s impact off the field, and Caraher is certainly deserving.
“I see (the players) everyday in school and I’m very close with my kids,” Caraher began. “I see them everyday, I talk to them, and I just ask them about football and what’s going on in their life and how are their grades and that stuff. I just show them that I care about them.”
Coach Caraher hones in on success in the classroom and works with players experiencing difficulty with their academics, especially in math. Caraher’s leadership has led Mynderse to being named a NYS Scholar Athlete team in 2016 and 2018.
“As a coach, Joe — in addition to coaching football — coached lacrosse and wrestling, no matter what talent he had or did not have, was always positive, worked hard, believed in his players and treated them with respect,” Mynderse Athletic Director Tony Ferrara wrote in an email. “As a professional educator Joe works hard in the classroom with his students and really excels with students who struggle with math. He is patient, relates to his students and wants them to achieve to the best of his abilities.”
What speaks volumes to Coach Caraher’s demeanor is his response when asked about the lack of a football season.
“One thing I really enjoyed was my kids that ended up playing other sports,” Caraher said. “I had probably six kids play soccer and a couple kids play golf … I was just really proud. We’re a small school, and we’re not football players or soccer players, we’re athletes here and that’s how we need to think of things.”
In addition to being involved in the classroom, Caraher and his players volunteer their time at the Seneca Falls Recreation Center and put on youth football programs in coaching clinics for the area’s youth.
“I place a lot of emphasis on that,” Caraher said about his players’ involvement in the local community. “They have to learn how to deal with people. They’re going to go out and get jobs and they have be leaders.
“I always tell them, ‘football is the least important job I have with them from August until October.’ I’m teaching them how to be young men and go out in the world and be successful when they leave Mynderse. So hopefully by getting involved in different things, they get more well-rounded and become better people.”
Despite the lack of first downs and touchdowns, there may not be a more fitting time to acknowledge coaches and educators like Joe Caraher for their work on and off the field.
“Most importantly, as a person Joe is a very caring and respectful person,” Ferrara said. “His family is his priority and is well respected within the community. Joe is a Seneca Falls native a Mynderse Academy graduate and bleeds blue through and through.”