After stepping down before the start of the high school spring sports season due to health issues, White Plains girls lacrosse head coach Mike Leone passed away on Thursday after losing his battle with a rare blood disorder.
He was 49 years old.
“Mike the person, you can’t sum it up; he’d give up anything for anybody any time within his power and never asked for anything in return,” said Gabe Robles, Leone’s longtime assistant coach. “As a coach, you’ve never known a fiercer competitor unless you’ve been around him or against him on the field. He was truly passionate about coaching, passionate about the kids; he coached more than just the game.”
Leone, who formerly coached for the modified football team at White Plains, took over the school’s varsity girls lacrosse team in 2012 and turned the Tigers into a formidable contender in Section 1.
In four seasons under Leone, White Plains had a 31-19-5 record. In 2013, he was recognized as the Section 1 Conference II coach of the year.
“We teach the X’s and O’s of the game, but we teach about life, too, and use the game as a vehicle,” Robles said. “When you instill those life lessons, you can see what the benefits are and that’s what we’ve been able to do these last couple of years.”
Leone had been undergoing chemotherapy for the past few months, but took a sudden turn for the worse around two weeks ago, according to Robles.
He is survived by his wife, Jane, and his four children, all of whom play lacrosse: Nick, Kate, Abby and Luke.
Kate, a former standout player for White Plains, is currently a sophomore at Mercer College and is a member of the school’s women’s lacrosse team, while Abby is a current member of White Plains’ varsity team.
Leone, who was a certified public accountant for Stanton & Leone LLC, was also a coach for Legacy Lacrosse, a club girls lacrosse program based in the Lower Hudson Valley, coaching alongside Kate and Abby.
“He was the real deal. He gave a lot to the community, he gave a lot back to people without asking for anything in return,” said Gail Lozado, the coaching director of Legacy Lacrosse as well as the president of the Section 1 Girl’s Lacrosse’s Coaching Association. “As a father, he’s always been there for his kids. He was a great family man; his priorities were straight.”
The visitation for Leone will be held at the Beecher Flooks Funeral Home in Pleasantville on Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m., with the funeral service being held at Our Lady of Sorrows Church on Monday at 10:15 a.m.
“It’s pretty obvious from the amount of students at school that Mike had interacted and made an impact on their lives,” said Matt Cameron, White Plains’ athletic director. “We have some really upset students today in the building. We’re going to miss Mike a lot.”