By Nahian Chowdhury ’16
In honor of Alan Arbuse, the C-Gym and the weight room at Midwood Field have been renamed commemorating his contribution to the Hornets community.
As part of the Hornets family for 36 years from 1965 to 2001, Mr. Arbuse coached varsity football from 1966 to 1983 and led the team to victory in the 1983 playoffs. From 1983 to 2001, he served as the Assistant Principal of Physical Education.
In the lives of the many students he worked with, Mr. Arbuse was more than just a coach. He was a father figure, a mentor, a role model and most of all, a friend.
“He was the most influential man in my life,” said Charlie Mandracchia ’77, “he kept us on the straight and narrow.” Mandracchia was referring to the high standards that Mr. Arbuse held his students to, and the way he expected them to carry themselves.
Michael Simpson ’73 describes his former coach as, “Hard, but fair. He made you want to listen to him.” Simpson was influenced by Mr. Arbuse to pursue a career in coaching.
“He gave us everything we needed, bus fares, summer jobs, everything,” said Alberto Wickehem ’83, “No other coach did that.” Mr. Arbuse tried to be there for his students and had gotten them summer jobs at a nearby Modell’s where a friend of his worked, and if a player needed money to get home, he was never hesitant to help. The football team, led by Mr. Arbuse advanced in the 1983 playoffs.
“We were a powerhouse,” said Wickehem, “We beat Lincoln, we beat Lafayette. All the big schools hated Midwood.”
Former colleagues remember Mr. Arbuse as a supportive and experienced man who managed to turn the Physical Education Department around. At the time when he became coach, there were not as many sports teams in Midwood as there are now and sports weren’t emphasized as much.
“Sports at that time weren’t doing well, then Mr. Arbuse came in and changed everything,” said Mr. George Hero, both a former student and a former colleague. Mr. Arbuse and Mr. Hero worked together to start the Midwood wrestling team, which first began as a club. “He helped us to become a team,” said Mr. Hero, “he understood what it meant to be an athlete.”
Mr. Hero describes Mr. Arbuse as, “a great person to work with,” and “not just a mentor or supervisor, but a friend.” Mr. Arbuse was never hesitant to help new coaches deal with problems they encountered. He had plenty of experience and was happy to share it with others.
“He was a busy man, with a lot to do, but he always had time for anyone who came into his office,” said Mr. Hero. According to Mr. Hero, sports coaches are more than just teachers. They must play the roles of teacher, mentor, psychologist and parent depending on the situation, and Mr. Arbuse fit each role perfectly.
Now, 13 years later, Mr. Arbuse has not been forgotten. The renaming of the C-gym and the weight room commemorates his contributions not only to the football team, or the physical education department, but also to the Hornets community as a whole.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Anna Wu ‘16, “teachers do so much for us. They deserve a lot more than what they’re getting.”
Mr. Arbuse may not be here today, but his legacy remains. As Harris Levine ‘81 said, “As long as people remember us, we’ll always be around.”