Over 700 community members signed a petition demanding answers on why the school district chose to not renew Frank Chimienti as the high school’s head football coach, since its creation in early January.
Frank Chimienti, Baldwin High School’s former head football coach from Long Beach, learned his contract, as head coach of the high school’s football team would not be renewed in late December, a day he described as devastating.
Parents, students, and other community members created a Change.Org petition in early January, which demanded the school district reinstate Chimienti as head football coach or explain why his contract was not renewed to the public. At time of press, the petition has gathered 778 signatures, and dozens of comments in support of the coach in the comment section.
Chimienti, 50, said he believed the support he’s received, as exemplified by the petition, shows the mutual love and respect for the Baldwin community and its players. He said he would have loved to continue working as the head football coach at the high school, and feels sorry that his relationships with the players, and parents, will come to an end. He said he’s had multiple players, and parents call his phone to find out why he wasn’t renewed as the head coach, since parting with the high school.
“You know you’re doing something special if you can turn around a football team in 17 months,” said Chimienti. “It’s a shame it can all go away over night. I got choked up reading some of the comments, some community members left for me on the petition”
Chimienti grew up in Long Beach, graduating from Holy Cross High School, and then graduated from CW Post with a master’s degree in education in 1994, where he played football. He then took a job as a coach for CW Post’s football team for over ten years. He was a football coach at Valley Stream Central High School, Freeport High School, and the football coordinator at Nassau Community College, before joining as Baldwin high School’s head football coach in Fall 2021.
"It was horrible,” said Anthony Byron. “We just really couldn’t understand why he wasn’t reinstated, it feels unfair.”
Anthony Byron, a Baldwin High School senior and football player, said Chimienti “embodied the word passion.” Byron said he doesn’t understand why Chimienti was not chosen to continue as head coach of the team, because "he brought out the best in his fellow teammates and helped turn the program into a successful one."
“He’s the only man I knew that would sacrifice so much just for football,” said Byron. “He would rush to Baldwin from his other jobs, just to make sure he could practice with us.”
Byron said he and many other players were so distraught about the silence and confusion surrounding Chimienti, over 20 members of the football team and their parents organized a small rally outside of the Baldwin School District building in early January. He said he and his team demanded answers from the school district.
Byron said members of the school district refused to open their doors to the parents and football players, or listen to what they had to say — which he said made him feel frustrated, disappointed, and demeaned.
Davis Pace, of Baldwin, the father of Jack and Jessie Pace, two juniors at Baldwin High School, said he wants to know why Chimienti was let go, and would like to see him reinstated as head coach of the football team, where his son Jack Pace plays. Pace said Chimienti was an extraordinary head football coach, and a role model to his children and other community members.
“He laid down the law in a forceful way, but in a way that created positive changes,” said Pace. “He was making better people, and better players.”
Pace said he doesn’t understand why Chimienti’s contract was renewed, especially because he was “turning the football program around, and was invested in Baldwin’s football players."
Pace said Chimienti would hold each of his players to a high standard, and would even ensure football player’s finished their homework and excelled in academics, before getting to play on the field.
Pace said prior to Chimienti getting hired as head coach, his son Jack Pace was “barely passing,” his classes. He said his son Jack found success academically after a playing on the football team with Chimienti.
Although he’s clearly beloved by many in the Baldwin community, some parents want to know why exactly Chimienti’s contract wasn’t renewed before signing the petition. Daquan Vann, a Baldwin school parent, said he initially thought Chimienti was a good pick for the high school’s football team, but found him “unreasonable and controlling” during his tenure.
Vann said he began to view Chimienti with suspicion, when some players of the junior varsity football team, including his son who he asked to remain unnamed, wanted to wear pink on their uniforms in a show of support for breast cancer awareness.
Vann said Chimienti vehemently opposed the idea of his football team wearing pink on their uniforms. He said Chimienti only allowed the players to wear a small pink sticker on the back of their helmets, which he said was “barely visible” and “the size of a dime.”
Vann said Chimienti gave faulty reasoning for his opposition to the color pink being worn on uniforms, and was felt the small stickers on the back of their helmets, were a poor way of showing support for breast cancer survivors — like his wife Abigail Vann.
Chimienti said he had grievances with the Baldwin High School and did not see “eye-to-eye” with some members of the school district during his tenure. He said he fought tirelessly to secure a new football field for the foot players — deeming the current one inadequate.
He said it might have been his passion for football related issues, which he said “looks like anger to the unmotivated,” that gave him the appearance of controlling or anger at the district, although, he said he was not given a reason for his contract’s termination.
The school district said they could not comment on personnel matters and ensured the community that a new head coach will soon be picked for the team.
“Decisions such as these are difficult and involve many factors, much of which are not evident to everyone,” said the Baldwin School District. “Everyone is in agreement that finding a coach who can nurture the program and our students are of primary importance. Ultimately, we will do what we believe is in the best interests of all of our students and the program itself. Board policy and New York State law does not allow for discussion of an individual. Issues of personnel are confidential and therefore, cannot be discussed publicly. While we know this is difficult for some, the search for a new coach is underway to ensure a smooth transition.”