Christian Brothers Academy has been molding young men for 59 years. Mr. Tom Heath has been a part of the tradition for 49 of them.
The conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year signaled the end of Heath’s tenure as teacher and coach at the Academy, retiring after 49 years of service to CBA.
“As a teacher and a coach, it has been an incredible journey at CBA,” Heath said. “Two things stand out in my mind about CBA: hard work and fun. I’ve seen generations of students working to do their best when it counted the most.”
A 1965 graduate of the Academy, Heath returned to his alma mater in 1970 to teach mathematics, hired by Principal Brother Stephen McCabe. Since then, he taught a variety of math courses, including pre-calculus, geometry, geometry/algebra 2, algebra 1, finite math, and college algebra.
Heath worked under eight different principals during his 49 years: McCabe, Brother Peter Mannion, Brother Andrew O’Gara, Brother Ralph Montedoro, Brother Stephen Olert, Brother James Butler, Mr. Peter Santanello, and finally, Mr. Ross Fales.
“It is not everyday that a school says goodbye to its longest tenured faculty member, much less someone who has taught there for much of the institution’s entire existence,” Fales said. “For half a century, Tom Heath has impacted students and athletes at CBA. He is, in a sense, a living legend and a name that will likely be forever remembered at CBA.”
In 1970, he took an assistant coaching role for the cross country team and was named head coach of both cross country and track & field soon after. He taught countless students the importance of hard work and that, in the pursuit of true excellence, “everything matters.”
For 45 years and 135 running seasons, Heath was at the helm of one of the greatest athletic programs in all of high school sports. He guided CBA Cross Country to 26 state championships, 21 Meet of Champions titles, 15 Eastern Regional wins, and a Nike National Championship in 2011. He added three prestigious Penn Relay national distance medley relay (DMR) championships with the track team.
No one can mention Heath’s coaching legacy without mentioning “The Streak.” It began with a victory on September 19, 1974 and quickly became a staple of tradition, a common link between every runner who has donned a singlet since then. On September 28, 2004, “The Streak” broke the national record with victory number 266. When he retired from coaching after the 2015 cross country season, “The Streak” sat at a commanding 343-consecutive dual meet victories. It has reached 362 straight wins since then.
Heath will, of course, be remembered for his coaching excellence, but also for his commanding and friendly presence in the hallways of the Academy. Students who have spent mornings in the cafeteria will remember him as a staple at the corner round table for decades-worth of breakfasts.
“I would like to personally congratulate Tom on his retirement, and genuinely thank him for his unwavering loyalty and commitment to the Academy,” Fales continued. “We will miss his candid nature, sense of humor, and singular focus on achieving whatever goal he set his mind on.”
The historic Freshman Run, held each September for the new freshmen class, now bears his name to honor his legacy.
“I will always remember all of the students who have passed through my classroom and all the runners who ran the Round Barn with me,” Heath said. “Every one of them truly made a young, then old, Tom Heath happy. I am honored to have been associated with CBA during these last 49 years.”