MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Joan Spedafino, who has coached at Rye Neck High School for 30 years, became the winningest coach in Section 1 softball history this month.
Spedafino earned her 447th career win with the Panthers' 11-1 victory over Hastings on May 1, surpassing former Eastchester High School varsity coach Thomas "Skip" Walsh as the softball coach with the most career wins in Section 1 history. Walsh coached at EHS from 1978-2008.
Spedafino is a fourth-grade teacher at Bellows Elementary School in Mamaroneck. "I love it,'' she said of teaching younger pupils. Several later played on her winning high school teams before becoming college athletes.
Asked about what stood out as a favorite moment over the years, Spedafino told Daily Voice: "One of my fondest memories is when my son was born in May of 1996 . It was a Sunday and we were playing in the Morbito tournament. We won the tournament, I had Angelo the next morning, and all the girls came to see me. That year, we went to the States."
Her career wins now stand at 452 after five more Panther victories this month, although Spedafino lost track. "My mother is counting,'' she said. "She'll let you know if you get it wrong."
Spedafino's husband, Frank, has been her softball team's assistant coach for 27 of those years as featured by Daily Voice.
Her team notched another win on May 3 by beating Mamaroneck High School, 4-1, during a charity "pink" game to raise breast cancer awareness. The Tigers and Panthers combined to raise more than $1,000. Also during that game, Mamaroneck's Kim Chiapparelli got her 150th career hit on a triple, becoming the first MHS softball player to reach that mark.
Making up for regular games rained out earlier this season, Rye Neck also racked up doubleheader wins over Dobbs Ferry and single-game victories over Sleepy Hollow and Mount Vernon.
The Spedafinos' oldest son, Robby, is now in his first year as an assistant softball coach at Mamaroneck High School where former Rye Neck player Allison Rogers Bedowsky is head coach. Their younger son, Angelo, (mentioned above) plays club baseball at the University of Albany.
Spedafino said she and her husband have regrets about missing many of their sons' baseball games and other school events while they were growing up, due to their own busy, softball team schedules -- but that the "boys" now understand as grownups
Walsh, of Bronxville, is now in his fourth year as assistant coach at Concordia College. Prior to that, he served as head coach for the College of New Rochelle softball team.
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