Earlier this morning, long time pioneer of the sport, Bob Baratta, passed away on Long Island. He was 88.
Coach Bob Baratta was the founding father for Section VIII Winter Track and Field. He became the Section VIII coordinator of Cross Country, Winter Track and Spring Track. From 1964-1994, Baratta taught physical education and coached cross country at Great Neck South High School; his overall cross-country league meet record was 350-34. His spring track and field coaching record was an amazing 414 wins and only 38 losses. Many of Baratta's track initiatives, methods and philosophies are still in use across the county. As an athlete, Baratta competed for Adelphi University, before moving on to the New York Athletic Club, excelling at the 800m, among other events.
In more recent years, Baratta served as Meet Director for New York State Federation Cross Country Championships, as well as a director for the Nike Cross Regionals - New York Championships. Many years, he could be seen setting up the course at Bowdoin Park.
Baratta was also a strong presence with the NSAF. The National Scholastic Athletics Foundation was founded in 1990. It is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization with the mission of opening doors to the world for our youth, through athletics, and providing them opportunities to succeed. That includes supporting high school and junior-aged track and field athletes in the US through national high school competitions, including the New Balance Nationals Indoor and Outdoor; The Great American XC Festival and HBCU Challenge; and the American Javfest and Ironwood Throws Classic. It also includes Team NSAF international competition and team-building events in Cuba and Iceland; clinics and event-specific special projects, such as Project Javelin Gold and Project Triple Jump; vigorous grant programs, which enable high school athletes to compete around the country, at USATF Junior Nationals, and internationally; and with program development grants, which are awarded in the winter and fall each year. The NSAF provides approximately $250,000 in grants annually.