|Title:||Class of 1994|
As coach of track and field and cross country at WPI for some 29 years, Frank Sannella became one of the legends in WPI athletics. But while he coached many successful teams, and while some of the greatest track men in WPI's history won glory under his tutelage, Sannella is remembered today as much for his devotion to his athletes and for his true love of the sport of tack and field.
His coaching career began as high school senior when he was asked to oversee his school's track team. The following year he coached a semipro football team and seriously injured his knee demonstrating a blocking technique. Despite his injury, he became an outstanding track man as an undergraduate at Bates College, running virtually every distance and competing on two undefeated teams in the famous Penn Relays. When his knee injury worsened as a senior, he decided to try coaching again and took over the freshman squad.
After graduation, he became a teacher and coach at Oxford High School. He later earned a master's degree in school administration from Boston University, and to become a better coach, he attended a summer coaching school at Washington and Lee University headed by the famous Knute Rockne. He soon became principal of his school; it was while serving in that capacity in 1944 that he began his part-time career as a WPI coach, daily making the 25-mile trip from Oxford to Worcester to coach track or cross country.
During his tenure at WPI, at least half of of WPI's track records were tied or broken by the likes of Ed Lemieux, Dick Zeleny, Don Jordan, George Howe, Al Deloid and Harvey Howell. Some of those records were set before the turn of the century by Harry Dadmun, a member of the Class of 1891. In a touching link to th past, Sannella became a close friend of Dadmun in his later years.
Sannella stepped down as WPI's track coach in 1954 when he was named superintendent of schools in Oxford. However, he continued to coach cross country for the next 21 years. ADter he retired as school superintendent in 1965, he served as a track consultant at WPI and as an official for meets.
For his undying devotion to the Instiute and for his lifetime achievements as a coach, educator and administrator, WPI is honored to induct Frank Sannella posthumously to its Athletic Hall of Fame.