During John Boyle’s 30-year tenure as head football coach at W.T. Clarke High School, he ruled with a steady hand, a calm demeanor and, his students and colleagues said, the conviction that everybody on and off the field is important.
Boyle coached the football team at the Westbury High School beginning in 1987 and retiring after last spring’s season. He had planned out the following year, according to his wife Gina Trupiano, and intended to spend time between New York and Florida, where two of his three sisters live.
His plans were cut short, however, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this past fall. Boyle and Trupiano met over eight years ago and had been planning to get married, finally making the decision after Boyle’s diagnosis. In April, they celebrated their wedding with family and friends at their home in Greenlawn.
“He still had his wits about him, but was very weak and there was no way we could pursue the marriage outside the house,” Trupiano said. “But everyone said it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to.”
John Boyle died on May 5 in the same home, surrounded by his friends and family. He was 60.
"Coach Boyle was so important to our community, he touched the lives of countless people,” said Kevin McGowan, a recent alumnas of W.T. Clarke High School. McGowan recalled playing on the school’s football team under Boyle and added that his parents knew Boyle as students at the same high school. “I was very lucky to know him,” he said.
Boyle was born on March 29, 1958, grew up in East Meadow and attended W.T. Clarke High School. He attended Long Island University Post, earning his Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1980 and another Bachelor’s degree in secondary education in history in 1987. While he began his career at W.T. Clarke, he also earned his Master’s degree in school counseling in 1989.
"I knew coach Boyle for 24 years. He taught me a lot about football, but even more about life,” said Scott Martin, a 1988 Clarke graduate who played linebacker and tight end on Boyle's county championship team. He also coached on Boyle's staff for four years before taking the head coach position at Long Beach High School.
“[Boyle] always cared more about the kids than the wins,” Martin added. “I don't know anyone who connected better with his players than he did. He was a special man."
Malverne's Kito Lockwood not only coached against Boyle the past nine years, but he also played against him when he starred for the Mules from 1988 to 1991.
"My first season as Malverne's varsity coach, our third game was against Clarke," Lockwood recalled. "[Boyle] embraced giving advice and didn't hesitate to pass on some means of wisdom to help me become a better coach. I had a great deal of love and respect for him."
In his time as coach, Boyle won 156 games in 31 seasons and the Rams made 18 playoff appearances. He guided Clarke to the 1997 Nassau Conference III championship, defeating Wantagh, 34-14. His father, Jack Boyle, who died in 2000, was Clarke's head coach from 1957 to 1973 and worked alongside his son as an assistant coach until 1999.
Boyle was also very involved with Nassau County Football Coaches Association, serving as its past president and its Section Eight Modified Football Coordinator from 2012 to 2017.
Boyle was not only a dedicated contributor to Clarke’s football team, but a past history teacher of ten years until 1998 and Dean of Students, retiring last June.
“He was always trying to get the players in the best academic fit they could get in,” said Tim O’Malley, the football teams assistant coach and Boyle’s close friend. O’Malley added that Boyle worked with his athletes to ensure they were ready to graduate and kept up their grades.
“One of the biggest lessons is to make sure the kid’s interest comes first,” O’Malley said. “Sometimes we can get lost in the wins and losses and loose track of what’s important.”
To Boyle, connecting with other people was important, whether it be his students, family or friends. O’Malley recalled backyard barbecues, graduation parties and weekend outings with Boyle and both of their families. “Those are the memories I treasure the most,” he said.
O’Malley also spent a lot of time with Boyle through his battle with pancreatic cancer. “Amazingly, he was more concerned with everyone else than himself,” he said. “He kept saying over and over that he was okay, he just wanted to make sure that everyone else was okay.”
In addition to his wife Gina Trupiano; Boyle is survived by his sisters Nancy Scalice, 71, of Sanford, Fla., Eileen Weitzel, 68, Amelia Island, and Jane Assetta, 66, Lake Placid and Sedona, and his daughter Fallon, 23, of Holtsville.
As he got older, Boyle took an interest in boating. He owned a beachfront condo on Amelia Island and would visit his sister there and ride on his boat with his family and friends. Boyle would also taking trips to Lake Placid to visit his sister Jane Assetta. “He’ll always be my little brother,” she said, recalling when he’d visit her and talk about his students and school.
Although he was committed to fighting his pancreatic cancer, Trupiano said, Boyle was no longer able to travel like he had planned on doing in his retirement. Nevertheless, he and his wife would take walks on the beach in Greenlawn. “That was our peaceful place together, even if a rainy day,” she said.
A Mass was held for Boyle at St. Brigid’s Church in Westbury on May 11, followed by a burial at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury. Boyle’s family requests that, in lieu of flowers, his loved ones donate money to the Lustgarten Foundation, which conducts pancreatic cancer research.