By Amanda Wyatt
Film star John Wayne might have played a sheriff in Hollywood westerns, but John Wayne Shierant — Sag Harbor’s brand new interim athletic director and a self-professed fan of his namesake — has his own tough job to do.
With the fall sports season already underway, the Sag Harbor Board of Education appointed Shierant (who usually goes by “Wayne”) to the position at its August 27 meeting.
“I’m delighted to point out a very special individual,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso said of Shierant. “We had a wonderful conversation and he had equally wonderful reference checks, and people glowingly talking about [him].”
Shierant’s first day in the district was August 28, and he is scheduled to serve on a part-time basis through December 21, or until the board finds a permanent athletic director. Over the course of this 70-day period, he will be paid $22,750.
A retired athletic director (AD), Shierant has four decades in athletics to his credit. In 1970, he began his career in West Islip, where he taught physical education, coached track and field, and served as head football coach. From 1996 to 2009, he was the director of athletics in West Islip, overseeing 94 teams in the district.
Raised in Pennsylvania, Shierant studied physical education at Sterling College in Kansas and received his master’s degree in health education from Adelphi University. He also has a professional diploma in education administration from Long Island University.
While at Islip, Shierant was praised for his success as a football coach. Newsday referred to him as one of the “top football minds” in the history of Long Island high school sports, noting his winning percentage of 0.805.
“I was surrounded by great people at Islip,” said Shierant. “I had great administrators, great assistant coaches and the community was very pro-athletics…[It’s] no different than the people that are in Sag Harbor, taking pride in their community.”
Since retiring, Shierant has done interim work in Rocky Point, Southold and Connetquot school districts. In the winter, he spends time playing golf in Naples, Florida.
At the board meeting, Dr. Bonuso noted the importance of having a seasoned AD.
“We wanted someone who literally could hit the ground running,” he said. “There’s an awful lot to be done.”
“That’s a very special position to give because we’re talking not just about competitive sports per se, but we’re talking about a curriculum that’s changing day in and day out, we’re talking about a wellness program,” Dr. Bonuso added. “We’re talking about ‘athletic director’ in a very broad and very special and important sense.”
The board of education added it has decided to wait to appoint a permanent AD until the role and responsibilities of the position have been clearly defined.
Under the leadership of former superintendent, Dr. John Gratto, the position of AD had been combined with that of director of buildings and grounds. Montgomery Granger served in this dual-capacity until August, when the district decided to reduce his job to director of building and grounds.
But as Pierson coach Sean Crowley pointed out during the public input portion of the meeting, Shierant will be the sixth athletic director in seven years. In addition to Granger, William Madsen, Mike Burns and Dan Nolan have all served as AD since the departure of Nick DeCillis in 2006.
In related news, the board also announced it will hold two forums in coming weeks to meet with potential candidates for the open position on the board of education. That position has been vacant since board member Walter Wilcoxen resigned in late June, shortly after winning reelection to the board for a third term. Candidates will be publically interviewed by the board at 6 p.m. on September 11 and September 14. The seven contenders for the position are Marian Cassata, Stephen Clarke, David Diskin, Tom Gleeson, Jonathan Glynn, Susan Kinsella and Thomas Re.