Sidney CC, track coach Neels heading east

Longtime teacher heading to Gothenburg


Donna Wiedeburg / Special To The Sun-Telegraph

Tony Neels is leaving after 11 years with the Sidney Public Schools.

For any regular attendee of Sidney High School track and field or cross country meets, the sight of coach Tony Neels running to different parts of the course offering encouragement and split times to his runners has been a familiar sight for more than a decade.

Unfortunately, the Raiders will soon have to do without their energetic coach.

Tony and Suzanne Neels, along with their three young children, recently announced they are moving east to take teaching positions with Gothenburg Public Schools. They will finish out the school year in Sidney and start at Gothenburg in the fall.

Besides coaching the distance runners on the track team since his arrival 11 years ago, Neels has been the head cross country coach the past four years. He now teaches physical education and health in the middle school. Suzanne teaches first grade at South Elementary.

"It was really an agonizing decision for us to make because we love everything about Sidney except for how far it is from our families," Tony Neels said. "Ultimately, we just wanted to be closer to family and make the move before the children got too much older."

He began his career in Sidney teaching fifth and sixth grade for eight years. He will be teaching sixth graders in Gothenburg. He was also a coach with the freshman and junior varsity basketball teams early in his Sidney career. Suzanne will be teaching kindergarten in Gothenburg.

With the move Tony, a native of Syracuse and Suzanne from Cambridge, will now be significantly closer to their families. For the time being, however, there are no coaching vacancies in Gothenburg. Neels is hopeful that will change in the future.

"There aren't any coaching vacancies now but that's something I see in the future," Tony said. "I haven't spoken with the AD yet, but hopefully there will be something in the next year or so."

The search to replace the Neels began immediately.

"We'll be looking for that outgoing personality and someone easy for the kids to work with, much like what Tony brought to the program," said Sidney High School principal Chris Arent. "We will also need someone who is well organized and able to work well with the parents."

Arent added that he is hoping to fill the head cross country coaching position by the end of the school year.

"Since my daughter has been running cross country the past three years, I've benefitted from Tony's leadership in the program," Arent said. "I know he's a big part of what made running cross country so enjoyable for her."


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