Dr Anthony Purpura, successful swim coach at Notre Dame Academy for 25 years, has died
Dr Anthony Purpura, a pillar of the Staten Island swimming community and one of the borough’s most successful coaches of all time in all sports, died late last week, Advance has learned /SILive.com.
The longtime former mentor of Académie Notre Dame, who was affectionately known as “Doc” by his swimmers, peers and others, was 82 years old.
Purpura, a former Staten Island Advance Service Award recipient who was honored at the NDA Alumnae Association’s Inaugural Recognition of Excellence Ceremony, is survived by his children, John and Prin. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Julia – a former Advance Women of Achievement Award winner – almost 10 years ago. The Purpura had been married for 51 years when she passed away in September 2011.
In addition to his detailed resume involving the island’s swimming community, Purpura was not only a doctor who had his own family practice in Brooklyn, but he also investigated homicides for the medical examiner’s office. of the city for years.
The permanent powerhouse of the NDA
When his daughter Prin was a student at the NDA, Purpura and his wife started the swim program in 1976 and ultimately turned the Grymes Hill School into a perennial powerhouse. In his 25 years with the NDA, his teams have won 23 municipal CHSAA championships, including 20 back-to-back at one point.
Under Purpura’s watch, the NDA swimmers regularly qualified for the prestigious Catholic Interschool National Swimming Championships at the University of Villanova and often performed well. Doc coached dozens of Advance All Stars during his tenure and many of his swimmers continued to compete collegially – something he was very proud of.
In 1992, he told Advance: “These children are my life and my passion. The highlight of my day is (going) training.
The former Todt Hill resident was named an Advance’s Service Award winner just months after retiring from the NDA in 2002.
Dawn Christie (née Nacchio), a former NDA swimmer led by Doc and current Gators coach, left a touching tribute to Purpura on Instagram.
“He was one of a kind and a legend in the NDA and in the swimming world. It helped make NES swimming what it is, Christie said. “I had the honor and privilege to swim for him from the age of 6 through high school.
“I spent most of my childhood with him and Ms. P and our swimming families. I have stayed in touch with him over the years and have always chosen his brain before the champions. He loved it when I emailed him the final results.
When Purpura was named the winner of the NDA’s first celebration of recognition of excellence in 2012, a number of former swimmers spoke to Advance about their ex-mentor, including Lisa Zuffante, four-time Advance All Star.
“Doc is the NES swimming,” said Zuffante, who graduated from the NES in 1999. “He was a phenomenal trainer, but he and his wife were so much more to all of us.
“They had swimming parties, holiday parties and every swimmer was a part of them. They made every swimmer feel as important as any other. We were a big family. ”
Staten Island Aquatics
Purpura has always been keen to say that there was a lot of interest in swimming when he first started training, but not enough swimming pools. The NDA and other CHSAA schools occasionally rented Curtis HS – the only high school on the island with a pool – or even took their teams to New Jersey for practice slots.
But in 1988, Dr and Julia Purpura, along with Bishop Farrell’s former trainer Connie Meibauer, were instrumental in opening Staten Island Aquatics, a 25-meter pool that was built with 1.6 million. dollars from a $ 700,000 mortgage, money raised by parents and a large contribution from the Purpura according to Advance records.
The Purpura mortgaged their home and doctor’s office as collateral to make Aquatics a reality.
The Purpuras started the Staten Island Aquatics Association as a nonprofit group dedicated to the physical well-being of children and adults, and the aquatics team has been registered with the US Swimming Association.
The facility closed in August 2002, but thanks, in part, to Doc, it was a successful 14-year run that welcomed many to the island.
High school and free time
Ironically, Purpura had no competitive swimming experience before starting the NDA program in 1976.
But that didn’t mean he wasn’t athletically involved. Quite the opposite, in fact.
While a student at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, he was a football and wrestling star. He also wrote in four sports a year – the aforementioned football and wrestling, as well as indoor and outdoor tracks.
Purpura and his wife loved taking trips to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and it was not uncommon for the couple to have over 25 children, just because.