Tappan Zee High School
Class of 1963
Tappan Zee High School was a powerful force to be reckoned with in athletics during the early 1960s and George Coates was their leader. George was the quarterback, point guard, and one of the leading batters on the baseball team, plus he still found time to letter in cross country and track. All in all, George earned 12 varsity letters in five sports, was All-County in three sports and in his senior year was elected captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams.
In the fall George spent his freshman and sophomore years on the Tappan Zee cross country team. He was the fifth runner on the varsity team both years and in 1959 Tappan Zee was the RCPSAL and Section 9 champion. In the fall of 1961 Joe Hince was named head football coach for the Dutchmen. George went out for the team and earned the starting quarterback job. Tappan Zee went on to share the Rockland County championship with Nyack and Haverstraw with a 7-1 record. In that season George threw for a league-leading 18 touchdown passes. For his efforts George was selected All-County quarterback. In his senior year the Tappan Zee football team, with George as their captain and quarterback, finished with a respectable 5-3-1 record. George again was selected to the All-County team. The All-County quarterbacks in 1962 were: first team, Hall of Famer Jo Jo Mackey; second team, George Coates; honorable mention, Hall of Famer Paul Toscano. A group of three finer athletes you will never see in Rockland County athletic history.
In the winter George spent his time playing basketball where he was a three-year varsity starter. In 1962 the Dutchmen were the RCPSAL co-champions along with rival Haverstraw. Their league record was 12-2 and they had an overall season record of 15-2. Tappan Zee was the first team in Rockland County to win 12 league games in one season, in 1962. That year, George set the school assist record with 118 and was selected MVP of the Spring Valley Tournament. In George’s senior year, 1963, the basketball team won the Section 9 championship and George was again selected as the MVP of the Spring Valley Tournament. In 1962 and 1963 George was selected to the Rockland County All-County basketball teams, and in 1963 he was a unanimous first-team choice along with Hall of Famer Ronnie Edwards.
When springtime rolled around you would find George on the baseball diamond. He earned four varsity letters as a baseball player and still found time to letter in track. Back then you could participate in two sports during one season. George was a feared hitter who reached a season- high batting average of .495 in 1962, with him and teammate Jim Spearman both breaking Hall of Famer Howie Pierson’s school record of .486 set in 1954. George’s career batting average at Tappan Zee High School was an amazing .385. In 1962 and 1963 he was selected to the Rockland County All-County teams. In the spring of 1963 George had a tryout with the Baltimore Orioles but decided to enter college instead.
George Coates was inducted into the Tappan Zee Athletic Hall of Fame in its inaugural year, 2009.
In 1963 George accepted a four-year basketball scholarship to Tusculum College in Greensville, Tennessee, where he won four varsity letters. George was named to the All-Volunteer State Athletic Conference Basketball Team all four years. In 1967, Tusculum College won the Volunteer State Athletic Conference (VSAC) Tournament, which was played in Nashville. In 1966 George was the team leader in assists with an average of 9 per game. He was named the MVP of the VSAC Tournament in 1967 and selected to the All-Tournament team two years in a row, 1966 and 1967. George is the holder of the Tusculum College Pioneers scoring record with 1,526 career points. For his accomplishments on the basketball court George was inducted into the Tusculum College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982.
After college George was hired by the Valley Central School District in Orange County, as a physical education teacher. He taught and coached at Valley Central for 32 years. George coached basketball, baseball and swimming at various levels but is best remembered as a football coach. George coached football for 26 years at Valley Central, 17 at head coach. From 1986 to the present, George has been a Section 9 basketball referee, officiating both boys and girls as well as junior college games. He served as President of the Orange County Basketball Officials Association from 2000-2013 and was honored as the Basketball Official of the Year in the 2012-2013 school year by the NYS High School Coaches Association.
George was inducted into the Valley Central Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 as a teacher-coach.
Ever the competitor, in the late 1960s through the early 1980s George played on many Rockland and Orange County softball teams. He played on Grasso’s Tavern, Mooney’s Bar and Grill, Holt Landscaping and the Orange Lantern, which won multiple championships in the Deer Head Inn League and tournament in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s George played in Orange County for Cossa Fuel and Baty’s, which won many tournament championships. He even found time in 1976 to try out as a placekicker for the New York Giants football team.
George and his wife, Adele, have been married almost 52 years and live in Middletown, N.Y. They have five children: George Edward Coates; 50, David Vincent Coates; 48, Kristen Louise Kresge, 47; Jeanmarie Angela Sommer, 46, and Laurie Jane Kahmar, 44; and 13 grandchildren.