Mr. Odita Named NY Jets Coach of the Year

Mr. Odita draws up a play in practice.  Photo Credit: Continental Studios

Mr. Odita draws up a play in practice. Photo Credit: Continental Studios

By WAN HUA RONG and TAYLOR BENNETT

Mr. Anthony Odita, the assistant principal of physical education and football coach at Midwood, has won the NY Jets Coach of the Year Award.

“I feel humble, honored, and a little awkward,” said Mr. Odita, “because coaching football is not a single effort.”

“The award is a staff award,” he said. “They work really hard. I am lucky to work with great men who do an amazing job mentoring the boys and helping them reach their goals.”

“For me, the reward represents all of us because we all play a big role in our program’s success,” he said.

Mr. Odita and the other coaches create a game plan for the opposing team each week for players to study. They also prepare videos of the opposition for players to watch.

“I treat players as adults, with respect,” Mr. Odita said. “I don’t want to put them down.”

Football player Sage Romulus ’21 said, “Mr. Odita prepares us mentally for our big rivals like Erasmus and Lincoln. Before the game, he makes us feel like we’re number one and we can beat anybody.”

Mr. Odita said, “I think people don’t realize football players have to be very smart to be successful. While it requires some traditional intelligence, it also requires some non-traditional forms of intelligence, such as kinesthetic intelligence. Players have to apply their knowledge in stressful, dynamic situations where they only have a short window to process information and solve a problem.”

Even when the season is over, Mr. Odita coaches weight training periods nine and ten because he expects all team members to stay strong and healthy. He exercises and runs during his free time.

Mr. Odita has been a football coach since 2002 and is now entering his 18th season of coaching.

Mr. Jonathan Skelly, the assistant coach of the football team, said, “Mr. Odita is very dedicated, passionate, and hard working in making the football program successful and helping his players have long-term success.”

One of the challenges of coaching the sport, Mr. Odita said, is bringing in each new generation of players.

“I think freshman year is the best year to try new sports, especially football,” said Mr. Odita. “It takes two to three years to get used to it.” 

One of the reward, he said, is seeing former players return and share their success stories. 

Mr. Odita plans trips every year that help  players improve their academic skills. He takes players to study hall to get tutoring and time to work on homework and projects.

It gives them “access to computers and tutors so they can be a better student,” said Mr. Odita. 

Another trip is the college tour, which givs players the opportunity to visit colleges during spring break. They visit five to eight colleges in the northeast region, such as Cornell University.

“The college trip helped me see the different aspects of the schools I want to attend,” said Chad Benjamin ’21.

“I wish I could do more,” said Mr. Odita. “A lot of kids are not lucky enough to have parents who can take them to visit colleges.”

Other than the football team, Mr. Odita also has two regular weight training classes during the day. He has high expectations for them as well.

“The biggest expectation is that students learn the importance of exercise, make progress, and give good effort,” said Mr. Odita.

“He’s always been a regimented instructor,” said Mrs. Kimberly Lau, a chemistry teacher at Midwood and also Mr. Odita’s former student. “He always has a plan, and he’s good at the details.” 

Tyrese Weeks ’20, a varsity football player,  said, “Coach Odita won’t let you get off easy. He makes you keep doing it till you get it right. He just wants to see you do great.”

Mr. Odita is also the asistant principal of physical education, supervising teachers, meetings with teachers and parents, and setting teachers’ schedules.

“It’s definitely an important responsibility,” said Mr. Odita. “You try to learn from the person who came before you, you try to learn from your colleagues, and you get mentorship from the principal and other assistant principals.”

Mr. Odita grew up in New York. He started as a history major in college but switched to economics after one semester. He expected to do something in the financial or banking sector.

“Economics was interesting,” he said. “I don’t regret it.”

But while playing defensive line on his college football team, he decided to become a physical education teacher instead. His first job after graduation was as becoming Midwood’s football coach.

“Of all sports I have been involved in, football speaks the most to all the different parts of my personality,” said Mr. Odita.

Mr. Odita also had a few words to think about for all Midwood students.

“We have a strong tradition of students participating in extracurricular activities, sports, and clubs,” said Mr. Odita. “But I don’t think we are all reaching our potential. A lot of students just go to class and go home. People want to stay in their comfort zone. But it’s hard to accomplish amazing things if you only do what comes easy.”

SportsCasey Levinson