Following the recent death of long-time Greenwich High School cross country and track coach Bill Mongovan, a group of 15+ former GHS athletes formed a nonprofit, the William Mongovan Memorial Foundation, to raise money for a commemorative scholarship in their coach’s name.
The foundation is a registered Connecticut nonprofit that is currently working towards 501(c)(3) status.
“Mongo” – as Coach Mongovan was known — was with the GHS running program for over 55 years when he passed away on December 21. In that time, he had 431 cross country wins and 731 victories overall, and in 2005 he was inducted into the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.
Coach Mongovan was also a pioneer of high school girls track, making it his personal mission to see it go from a club sport at GHS to full varsity status.
“I ran cross country and track all four years at GHS,” said GHS class of 2019 grad Alex Kosyakov, reached by phone Monday. “Coaches come and go. I ran with four different head coaches in my four years, but Mongo was always there.”
Kosyakov, who is a sophomore at University of Illinois, said he was grateful for Coach Mongovan’s steady presence.
“Mongo wanted to make sure everyone was doing well both in track and otherwise,” he added. “He knew Division 3 coaches he got me in front of them.”
Though Kosyakov didn’t wind up at a D3 school, he said he was so grateful. “He helped a lot of people out. My parents knew him well too. He was just everybody’s friend. An amazing guy.”
“Mongo was a selfless, caring, joyful man who knew everything there was to know about the sport and had a joke for every circumstance. For instance, the Greenwich Point cross country trails seemed to always stay magically trimmed, properly marked, and cleaned up after storms. Really, it was Mongo taking time before and after weekend practices to make sure his athletes had the best conditions to train and compete.”– From the William Mongovan Memorial Foundation’s GoFundMe page
Maddie Robinson, GHS class of 2018 who was Outdoor Track captain, also reached by phone Monday, said she had a very close relationship with Coach Mongovan.
“I remember the first day he met me, he said, ‘You have long legs and a fire in your eyes – and you should try hurdles,'” she recalled. “Nobody had said, ‘You’re special, you’ll do well.’ It was cool to have someone believe in me.”
As for the scholarship, Robinson said, “We’re trying to raise money to help people bring their dreams to reality. That’s what Mongo did.”
“He loved the sport so much, and it was infectious,” Kosyakov said.
The foundation started a GoFundMe campaign on December 24.
As of Monday afternoon it had raised $1,866, mostly from former athletes and their families. Now the foundation seeks to reach the entire Greenwich community and beyond to support the effort.
Kosyakov and Robinson said the plan is to cover the costs of memorial efforts for Mongo, with the remainder of the funds going towards developing a scholarship award for outstanding Greenwich High School student-athletes who live up to the ideals of Coach Mongovan.
Dec 21, 2020