An inspiration to us all

Coach Bryan Bonin remembered

Olivia Desjardins, Staff Writer

Bryan Bonin, not only a coach, but a father and friend passed away after his battle with cancer on January 25. 

He formed deep bonds and connections with the Commack community, as noted by many of his peers, family members, and students. Bonin made an immense impact on his players’ lives and other coaches’ lives. While he is no longer with us anymore, he lives in many people’s hearts as they honor his memory every day. 

“He was one of the kindest people you will ever meet. He had a giant heart for anyone who needed help or attention. He always went above and beyond for his students and athletes. He led by example,” said Girls Varsity Basketball coach David Moran. 

Moran described him as a true leader, as he was confident as a coach and took great pride in his teachings. As a coach for the Boys Varsity Baseball team and the Girls Varsity Basketball team, he pushed his players into the best version of themselves.

“I really think he had a unique ability to get the most out of his athletes and made them believe in themselves that they could be successful if they put the work, time, and effort in,” said athletic director Patrick Friel.

Bonin had the aptness to bring together his teams and taught them to have complete trust in each other on the court or the field. One of the most important factors about being a coach is the ability to uplift your players. If there was ever something going wrong during a game, Bonin made an immense effort to help his players get into the right headspace, according to Moran.

“He had one of the most relaxed, stoic personalities I’ve ever seen. He was never rattled whether he was up 20 or down 20. It didn’t matter to him. He was always the same person and I had no idea how he did it. He let the kids work through the problems on their own. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Moran.

Coach Bonin had many lasting impacts on the Commack sports community because he brought so much to the table with his style of coaching. He taught his players to work together as a family. Many note that his teachings are unforgettable, along with the legacies he left on Commack sports.

“He tried to foster a family atmosphere and tried to instill in his players that it might be even more important to see your friends and team be successful rather than just your stats, and when you coach a team sport, that’s very difficult to do. I think one of the biggest impacts was his success with baseball, bringing two county titles to Commack and our first ever Long Island Championship, and that is a legacy he’ll have forever,” said Friel. 

As a devoted father and husband, he had many experiences with forming genuine relationships. He utilized these attributes of his personality and applied that to his teams. They were his second family. That close bond made the athletes extremely successful on the field and court.

“He really treated us like daughters, like we were his family. There is really no other way to describe the way he would keep relationships with us on and off the court,” said freshman Varsity Basketball player Sofia V. 

Many athletes that had the opportunity to be taught by Coach Bonin agree that he had such a strong influence on their lives. He shared a special relationship with his players and ensured that sports remained fun. 

“He was a role model for all of us and gave us so much confidence. Every day, no matter what you did, he’d always be there for you. He was more than a coach, he was a best friend,” said junior Varsity Basketball player Julia B.

Bonin would preach one particular motto to all of his players to configure them into a strong united team. 

“His favorite term was ‘MUDITA’. He would say that all of the time to his teams and what that means is that you should always celebrate the successes of others. He lived by that motto and learned it when he was playing baseball in Hawaii, and then implemented it into his coaching strategies,” said Moran. 

His loved ones today still try to stay attached to him by applying that motto to their daily lives.

“I feel like it’s the only way I can really stay connected to him because whenever I hear that word or see it on paper, I think that I will never be able to repay him for anything that he did for me. I guess doing everything [in honor of] him now is the only thing I can do,” said Sofia.

Coach Bonin made sure that every single one of his players felt special. Many athletes shared moments with him that helped inspire them to pursue their dream and become the best athlete they could be.

“When I was a freshman, during my first game, I was so nervous and I was shaking and he took me aside and he said, ‘You’re going to sit next to me on the bench and we are going to watch the game together and get through this together.’ And then we did. We got through it and then we got through the whole season together,” said Julia.

Bonin shaped his athletes into respectful, meticulous, and confident people. 

“The impact he made on his athletes will go on forever. At his wake and at his funeral, [you saw] kids from all different years come back to tribute the relationships he was able to build in a short period of time. He taught them how to be better people, better friends, better sons and daughters, because those are just the little themes he continued to push onto his athletes,” said Friel.

Bonin’s life lesson was to celebrate success in others. Everyone that knew him will hopefully continue to apply that mentality in their lives to keep a piece of him in their hearts. Commack will pay tribute to him through dedicating the new baseball and softball fields to Coach Bryan Bonin on April 13. 🔳