Mel Palano has retired again. Or has he? Before he leaves Timon/St. Jude this time, there's a little matter of raising the funds to replace the gymnasium floor.
After 44 years of service to the Msgr. Martin Association school, Palano is behind an effort to replace the linoleum floor, which dates to 1964.
"When I retired the principal asked me to stay on and take on a special project," Palano said. "I'm never going to (completely) retire. I'll always be helping out.
"It's a tough court to play on, there's no give to it," he added. "The floor is patchwork under the fountain -- it's seen its day. It's amazing we haven't had any major injuries."
The longtime athletic director and coach has collected $19,800 of the $42,000 he needs for the planned wooden floor. The new surface would be for the 1998-1999 basketball season. At its unveiling, the gymnasium will be named for Palano.
In June, Palano, 71, officially retired after a 42-year career as AD. He coached basketball for most of his 36-year career on the old floor. He retired from basketball in 1989 with 544 victories. Palano started at Timon in 1949 as a physical education instructor for a $2,000 yearly salary and all he could eat.
An Oct. 12 tailgate/retirement party beginning at noon on school grounds has been planned as a fund-raiser for the floor. Palano is hoping to attract former players and alumni to the fund-raiser. The public is welcome. All proceeds go toward purchasing the floor.
Also backing the effort are former Timon standouts Tom Ryan (1954), Brian Guest (1959), Jim Bevilacqua (1961), Mike Kull (1965), Paul Fitzpatrick (1966) and Ricky Williams (1970).
St. Joe's coach honored
Bob O'Connor of St. Joe's has been named Coach of the Week by the Buffalo Bills. The award, sponsored by the Bills and the NFL, recognizes outstanding coaching performances in Western New York. O'Connor's Marauders knocked off No. 1-ranked North Tonawanda on Saturday, 17-14.
Recipients receive a $500 donation from NFL Charities to their program.
The St. Francis football team (2-1) will be playing St. Ignatius of Cleveland, the No. 4-ranked team in the nation, next Friday (Oct. 3) . . . Junior Robyn Szymanski almost single-handedly helped John F. Kennedy beat Lackawanna, 15-13, 15-0, in an ECIC Division IV volleyball match this week. Szymanski served 15 consecutive points in the second game for the Bears. . . . The third annual Tonawanda Wall of Fame induction will be Oct. 3 during halftime of the Amherst game. This year's inductees are Chris Tussing (football coach), Larry Bodie (1964) and John Balling (1967). . . . The LaSalle boys basketball team is looking for two non-league games. Contact Pat Monti at 286-1000, ext. 208. . . . St. Francis is looking for a swimming coach. Call Tom Pasternak at 627-2359. . . . The Frontier boys varsity and junior varsity basketball team is looking for two non-league games. Dates are Dec. 2, Dec. 16, Jan. 9, Feb. 6 or Feb. 20. Contact Gary Domzalski at 627-2353. . . . The next major meet on the cross country schedule is the McQuaid Invitational on Saturday at Genesee Valley Park.