Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And it’s that type of continuity and long-time tradition that have kept the Baldwin High School football family together for so long under head coach Steve Carroll, who just completed his 25th season on the sidelines with a fourth appearance in the Nassau County finals.
“People ask me how I’ve stayed in one spot for so long,” Carroll said. “But every time I think I’m ready to leave, we get another group of young kids coming through that I want to see finish.”
Carroll has a 130-79-4 career mark, and guided Baldwin to the 2005 Nassau County Conference I title, but talking to those who have been involved in the program, it’s quite clear that teaching and togetherness are just as important as the X’s and O’s on the chalkboard. “He trusted me like no other coach,” said Ricky Manigat, the 2005 Thorp Award winner as Nassau County’s top player. “I appreciate him as a man and as a coach. He was real transparent with us.”
“Winning and losing is all part of the deal,” Carroll said. “But [what matters] is what you get from the kids. And we’ve gotten a lot from our kids.”
From the weekly staff dinners after each game to the Friday-night team dinners and game preparations, and even the weekly practice traditions that have sprouted up in recent years — like Apple Wednesdays — current players and alumni alike have had a hand in continuing to develop a football program that dates back to the 1920s. With a personal timeline in the program beginning in the mid-1970s — he was a team captain as a senior in 1976 — Carroll is also perhaps its unofficial historian.
There aren’t many current or former players who haven’t heard of the Touchdown Twins, from the 1936-37 team, or George Craig, who coached the team from 1929 to 1958. “He has a real grasp of the history of the program,” Baldwin Athletic Director Ed Ramirez said. “And he passes that on to the kids. It takes them a year to understand when they get to the varsity level what Baldwin means to Coach Carroll, but he does a good job of instilling the pride.”