“My Way” is an American musical standard sung by legendary singer Frank Sinatra, an Italian-American Hoboken product. A song about a love affair, it describes the twists, turns, and final triumph of a man with his love.
Well, June 21 marked the final official day of employment for another New York-Metropolitan kid of Italian descent, Kingsway’s beloved teacher and coach, Tony Barchuk.
Barchuk’s love affair with Kingsway certainly ascribes to the lyrics of Sinatra’s signature song. On June 18, hundreds of former and present colleagues, students, parents, and opposing coaches gathered to honor Barchuk.
In a subsequent interview with Barchuk, his sentiments echoed Sinatra’s lyrics.
I’ve lived a life that’s full. I traveled each and every highway
“I was overwhelmed, truly humbled by this event for me,” said Barchuk. “People just kept pouring in. I was at a loss for words. However, if I was able to touch that many people, I truly want them to know they touched me even more.
“Through Kingsway, I’ve been to so many places and met so many people who have enriched my life. It’s awesome to learn the impact you can have on people. Brooklyn (his hometown) and Kingsway are like night and day.
“While it was strange coming off of the turnpike for the first time to see so many farms, I quickly realized that this was a great environment for me and my family to grow. At the end of my interview with the principal, he told me that I was going to retire from this place. Man, he was so right!”
Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention
“We are in the business of relationships as an educator,” said Barchuk. “I’ve tried to reach every kid I could. Hopefully, the parents that disagreed with me from time to time learned that I did what I did for their kids and for the team.
“I understood I had their precious children in my hands, and I tried my best to do the right things. I hope the parents of our kids know I loved these kids.”
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption. I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
“I learned my style from my coaches in high school (at a military school) as well as my coaches at NC State,” said Barchuk. “There’s a way to do things and a way not to do things. I meshed their styles with mine and put kids and safety first. I followed rules. I tried to win the right way.”
I bit off more than I could chew. But through it all, when there was doubt. I ate it up and spit it out
“Kingsway always was a good school and a melting pot of people, said Barchuk. “Like me, people came here for a better life. This made the community continue to improve and grow.
“Know that the tremendous responsibility of being a teacher, mentor, and father figure to so many was one that I took seriously. It’s a big deal! It brings tears to my eyes when former students state how I’ve been like a dad to them.
“To be fortunate enough to see children grow into men like (former student and current Kingsway coach) Mel Carter is too much. He’s like a son to me; I would do anything for these kids, and assisting in their journey is what we do.”
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
A highlight moment for Barchuk was the first game that he won in his first season, 7-6, after having not won a game in the season prior to his arrival. His team then proceeded to lose the next eight games.
“It could’ve gone either way after that first game,” said Barchuk. “Everyone showed steady faith in what I was trying to do, and we were .500 the next year. From there, things really took off.”
Another highlight was his opportunity to coach his children, Basil in football, and Alexis and Allie in softball. All three were Dragon Award winners, the top athletic award given at Kingsway.
“To spend so much time with those three at Kingsway is something I’ll never forget.”
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing. To think I did all that
As for his legacy, Barchuk feels strongly about the Kingsway history, tradition, positivity, and pride that he constantly preached. He often has been called the “face of Kingsway” in many circles. He feels confident that the current staff and administration will carry on these values.
“I never thought about being ‘Mr. Kingsway’”, said Barchuk. “I just did what I did. I taught and coached and loved being with the kids.”
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way
“You have to just do what you do,” said Barchuk. “What teachers do is touch the lives of kids. That’s our business. That’s our life. I may not have done it the way that others would have done it, but I did it to the best of my ability.”
“I gave my heart and soul to Kingsway, yet they gave it back to me even more. Through the many ups and the small bumps in the road, it’s been a great love affair.”
Yes, he did it ‘his’ way, and, for that, his way grew to become the way at Kingsway, too.