“Mister Pearl River”. When one mentions Pearl River athletics, the name Tom Doherty comes to mind. For over 30 years, Tom was actively involved with every aspect of Pearl River sports. He was a coach, an Athletic Director, and Pearl River’s biggest fan. He knew every student on every team, and went out of his way to encourage them and cheer them on. Tom’s coaching career centered around boys track and cross country. In 1973 Tom started the varsity winter track program in Pearl River. From 1973 to 1981, Tom’s winter team grew in size and skill. His 1977 team was the Rockland County and Section Nine Class B champions.
They were the only Pearl River boys team to ever win the Rockland County winter track Championships. In 1980, Pearl River finished third place in the New York State Championship Meet. Tom also coached two individual New York State Champions—Brendan Murphy in the Pole Vault (1977) and Andy Kohlbrenner in the 1600 Meter Run (1980.)
In 1973, Tom took over the reins of the spring track program. What started out as a team of 20 boys, under Tom’s guidance grew to a dynasty. His 1976 and 1977 both went 10-0 and were the Rockland County Champions. The Pirates also captured Section Nine Class B crowns in 1977 and 1978. From 1976-1978, Pearl River had a dual meet record of 29-1.
It was in 1978 that Tom took over the cross country team at Pearl River and they skyrocketed to the top. During the four years that Tom coached the cross country team they were ranked in the state every year. He won two Rockland County Championships and three Section Nine Class B championships.
In 1978 the Pearl River Cross Country team was the New York State Class B and New York State Federation Champions. That year, 1978, the team ran the fastest 5-man average at Bear Mountain State Park during the Sectionals. That record time still stands to this day. They were named as one of the best teams in the United States by a major cross country organization. In 1980, the Pirates repeated as the New York State Class B Champions, and were named honorable mention All-American.
In 1982 Tom took on a bigger job at Pearl River, that of Athletic Director. For over ten years with Tom at the helm, Pearl River became a leader and innovator in Rockland County athletics. Through Tom’s efforts Pearl River now has an athletic trainer, an equipment manager, an allweather track and field facility, and a game field with a sprinkler system. New teams were added to the high school program during Tom’s tenure as Athletic Director. He started the boys ice hockey program and the girls lacrosse program, and added to existing programs by instituting tournaments or invitationals in field hockey, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis, golf, baseball, softball, winter track, girls basketball, and modified cross country.
Success in athletics was important to Tom, but success in life for the Pearl River students came first. From 1982-1992 Pearl River was a pioneer school in the Varsity Athletics Against Substance Abuse
Program. Pearl River High School was an early participant and winner in the NYSPHAA Scholar Team award program, and the Pearl River High School Athletes dominated the selections in the Journal News Scholar Athlete of the Week program. Tom never confined his activities to just Pearl River. Through his hard work all of Rockland County and Section One benefited. Tom worked very hard to achieve parity with realignment by school size in Rockland County and Section One. Tom scheduled and coordinated the required BOCES coaching certification courses and the First Aid and C.P.R. programs in Rockland County. Tom was the long time co-meet director of the boys and girls Rockland County cross country, winter track and spring track meets. Tom was a former member of the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame Committee. Tom was also one of the founding fathers of the Rockland County Coaches Association.
In 2002 Tom was selected to the Pearl River High School Sports Hall of Fame. Tom retired from the Pearl River School System in 2003 and lives in Park Ridge, New Jersey with his wife Katie. They have four children – Brigid, Meghan, Nora, and Brendan. He has become the announcer for the Army mens and womens winter and spring track teams at West Point. He can occasionally be found at Pearl River and County athletic events cheering on the athletes from Pearl River and always greeting you and saying good-bye with his trademark, “GO PIRATES!”