Paul Limmer

Mepham Teacher and Coach from 1963 to 2000

Tribute to Paul Limmer
By Reverend Larry Mancini '74

Anyone who has run cross country or been on the track team at Mepham in the last twenty years has had their life touched in some way by Paul Limmer. Many would say, "that's true of any coach and those that he coaches." I agree. But to those of us who were privileged to be coached by him, well, we knew it was extraordinary. For some of us, it was the first time we knew what it was like to have someone believe in us. He made us better than we ever dreamed of being. I was not a natural athlete. But I have a stack of medals from track and cross country meets that came to me because of Paul Limmer.

I'll never forget my very first day of cross country practice at Mepham - like a scene right out of the "Wonder Years." I can still see it now. It was August 1971. We met across from the football field. Mr. Limmer (as he was known to us) began to say things I never heard a coach say before. Things such as: "All you need is an attitude of willingness; speed or natural ability is not necessary - just the desire to contribute to something worthwhile." Then we started running. As we did, he called out to us, "come on ... you are going to get better and better and better ... don't give up..."

One time Bob Collins, a teammate, and I ran from Bellmore all the way to his house in East Northport. After we got there he took us out to eat and drove us home. It was a day I never forgot.

I remember us beating Wantagh. It was October 26, 1971. At that time it was a major upset. On the way home we were treated to Burger King. It was great! We all came back into the locker room wearing paper crowns and celebrating. The next day, lest the victory go to our heads, he made us run about fourteen miles.

There were no "stars" on the teams he coached. He made us all feel like champions. We were a lot more than a competitive team. We learned to respect one another and what it meant to commit ourselves to something. We experienced the unbridled joy of achieving what you only dreamed of before.

Paul Limmer treated us like sons. We didn't realize it at the time, but he was in a large way preparing us for life. The influence he continues to have on me has shown up from time to time in the Little League teams I've coached and in the church I am pastoring here on Long Island.

There is no doubt. Mepham's success in its Track and Field and Cross Country teams has been due in large part to its coach, Paul Limmer.

From Scuttlebutt, June 1990

Limmer - student

Coach - 1979


From the National Scholastic Sports Foundation
2009 Caribbean Scholastic Invitational Team Coaches Biographies:

Paul Limmer's 35 year HS coaching career spanned 5 decades. During that time Mepham High School won numerous titles ranging from local to National: Footlocker Champions, National Champions men and women, 3 Penn Relay Championships of America (2 Boys DMR, 1 girls 4 x 800), NYS Champions too numerous to mention, Sectional Champions galore. Mepham's Girls DMR held the National Record for twenty years. During his tenure Mepham's Girls XC squad compiled an enviable 153 wins with only 2 losses.

When Limmer retired in 2000, he retired as the winningest combined Boys and Girls track coach in NYS history with over 700 wins. Mepham still holds the venerable Van Cortland Park 5 man 5k average, 16:12 per man set in 1980, 29 years ago!

He was National HS XC Coach of the Year in 1990 and NYS Coach of the Year numerous times. In 1993 he was the Honorary Referee of the Penn Relays. Perhaps his finest achievement is the legions of former athletes who currently coach all over the US. He returns to CSI for a third time.

A Few Email Messages

What I have always been amazed at is what our coach was able to do with the guys and girls at Mepham who started out with no natural talent to begin with. One example, Dean Neuwirth...could never crack the top seven and had no real kick to talk of. But senior year, at the Grout Invitational in Schenectady, he won the JV race by almost two minutes. In the spring he set the school record in the marathon Earth Day Marathon (now the LI Marathon) in 2:47. George Matthaei '78

Mr. Limmer showed us a way for us to put our own hearts into something and collectively we all became bigger than we could have become on our own-and it wasn't just in sports-when you were bit by the passion bug you wanted to excel in many things such as school and life hard work wasn't the issue, being part of a successful team was-as long as you were willing to put in the work we all saw and admired each others' success. Mark E. Belger '74

I can still hear Coach saying "kick" every time I hit a rough patch in life... Paul's gift was bringing out our passion. Thanks Coach. Joe Kennedy '73

He definitely brought out that incredible Passion that I know pushed me to levels I never thought I could achieve... I only hope I can instill that same Passion to my daughters... Mike Rozea '72

Coach showed someone like me (limited talent and limited success) that the team is most important and bigger than any individual. A great lesson for life. Frank Benso '73

I always mention in my presentation at Mepham's sports dinner (scholarship) that it is always the coaches that people come back to visit, not the English teacher, Not that English teachers are unimportant (or Earth Science teacher for that matter); it's simply that it's the coaches that put in the extra time. From them we learn that the ones who are willing to do what others are not, will ultimately be successful. What they do by deed we emulate in our lives. Lord knows I have no idea where I would be without them. Heros making heros. Robert SanFilippo '77

Coach believed in us, challenged us, and gave so much of himself that we might excel. He called forth "the hero" in us all-and not just the most talented. Rather, Coach loved and supported the honest effort made by each of us, regardless of our respective talents...that memory I most cherish and principle I strive to live. Steve Braff '73