The late nights breaking down Xs and Os on videotape and the hard work in practice, Wayne Central’s Dave Marean does it all because he knows it’s vital to fielding a competitive football team.
But the Marean does more, so much more.
He started the “Border Bowl,” in 2007, turning the Eagles’ matchup with rival Palmyra-Macedon into an annual event and fundraiser. This season’s game — billed as “Drop The Axe On Children’s Cancer” — raised $9,300 for the Wayne County Children’s Cancer Fund. Marean also created a “Teacher Appreciation Program” several years ago for his football team that has become a model that all senior athletes at Wayne follow.
“We have teachers that do a lot of things that are just as big, if not bigger, than what we do (as coaches) on the football field,” said Marean, a Williamson and SUNY Cortland graduate who teaches physical education. “It’s important for them to be recognized, too.”
The 45-year-old is the next winner of the Coaches Who Care award, a joint initiative between the Democrat and Chronicle and Compeer Rochester. Marean also has been selected by a panel from the D&C and Compeer at the Compeer Coach of the Year and will be honored Thursday at a luncheon at the Riverside Convention Center in downtown Rochester. Pro Football Hall-of-Fame quarterback and former Buffalo Bills star Jim Kelly is the keynote speaker.
Somehow, despite the long drive from Wayne County back to Hilton, where he lives, Marean finds time to also coach some of his children’s youth teams. He and wife Jennifer, who have been married 15 years, have a son, Andrew, 11, and daughter, Megan.
“Though our team is going through a hard season, Dave still puts everything he has into the team to prepare them for the next opponent,” said first-year Wayne athletic director Tony Carusone.
The Eagles were 0-7 until beating Waterloo, 35-32, in last weekend’s Class B Connors and Ferris Bowl game. Marean, who used to coach baseball, too, helped launch football at the school in 2002 and 2003 as its junior-varsity coach. He took over the varsity in 2004 and the Eagles won Finger Lakes East titles in 2010 and 2011 and reached the Section V Finals in 2013, where they lost to Geneva.
“He gets after us, definitely, and during the summer when we have double sessions, the camaraderie is there and you can tell he really cares about our players,” senior nose tackle Alex Robusto said. “He puts in the time.”
Marean also has worked with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and his players deliver food to needy families at holiday time. He has edited DVDs that serve as highlight videos for his players, helping them get noticed by colleges. More than 30 players from Wayne have gone on to play at the next level.
There’s a balance you have to find as a coach, said Marean, who was nominated for the award by his sister, Kim Ludden.
“You’re not their friend, but you’re here to support them in a friendship way and guide them and show that tough love,” Marean said, adding that he thinks the best coaches need to be good listeners and find out what “carrots” motivate and matter to kids. “I think it just comes back to getting to know them more than what position they are. Get to know a little bit about their family, get to know the things they struggle in and things they’re successful in off the field.”
When former players come back to see Marean, that’s the most rewarding, he said. “He’s a big part of a lot of people’s lies,” senior wide receiver Ryle LaMora said.
Sophomore Braeden Zenelovic has a bright future as a quarterback. He played varsity last year, too, and when he hasn’t had a good practice he knows it. Marean’s tough on him. But then there will be a follow-up later, a conversation or text message.
“He gives you positive feedback … and says positive things that make you feel better,” Zenelovic said.
Marean’s mentor is his father, Bill, who is in his 70s but helps out as an assistant coach at Wayne.
“He really kind of guided me about what it is to be a man,” Marean said. “I was lucky to have some good coaches but he’s really been a mentor, for sure.”
The money from this year’s Border Bowl will help Trey Haak, a youngster from Macedon who had a cancerous kidney removed and faces about a year of chemotherapy treatment. Tragedy also has touched the Wayne team. Last year, the Eagles wore a helmet decal that read “Stay Golden” to honor Kyle Savary, a former player who died after battling cancer. Last summer, Tyler Graham, another former player, died in a motorcycle accident. His jersey was retired this year and displayed at games. Players also wore another decal in his honor.
The teacher appreciation program is special, too. Seniors pick a teacher and then honor that person at a game, walking them out to midfield or half-court like they would their parents on “Senior Night.”
“Mom Mom’s a teacher,” Robusto said, “so it’s very nice to see people that are so dedicated to what they do be rewarded.”
Just like Marean.
Compeer Coach of the Year
The Coaches Who Care Award recognizes individuals who’ve shown a commitment to players that goes beyond only developing a winning team. Eligible coaches must work at local high schools at the modified, junior-varsity or varsity level. Email nominations [email protected] Please cite specific examples in your nomination. Wayne football’s Dave Marean was chosen as Compeer’s Coach of the Year, an annual award, and will be honored Thursday by at a luncheon in downtown Rochester. This year’s special guest is Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, Jim Kelly.