CANINO, Anthony J. “Tony”
Born: Chicago, Illinois
Anthony Canino was a great high school coach whether coaching gymnastics, tennis, swimming, track, or football. Usually, the most successful gymnastics coaches have had competitive experience at least at the college level. Canino was reportedly not a very serious gymnast competing only in intramural meets, perhaps in high school and/or at the University of Illinois, Navy Pier.
The details of his amazing success might be found in his life at school. Let’s read to make a discovery or two. There is a theme beyond being a winning coach in Tony’s biography that qualified him to be only the third high school gymnastic coach to be inducted into the United States Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
After serving as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s Forces Command 82nd Airborne Division, he began his student teaching credential requirement at Hinsdale Central High School in the spring of 1958. During his student teaching year, he introduced gymnastics as an intramural activity at the school. When he completed his student teaching, he returned to U. of Illinois, Navy Pier to teach and coach, (1958-1959).
In September of 1959, he returned to Hinsdale High School to teach physical education and coach multiple sports teams. He also served as Chairperson of the Physical Education Department during his career at the school. His remarkable contributions as a Hinsdale Central gymnastics coach have made his name legendary throughout the school and community.
Under Canino’s direction, the Hinsdale boy’s gymnastic team won 239 dual meets vs. only seven defeats. At one point, his boys won Gold in seven consecutive Conference Championships, Gold in six consecutive District championships, and Gold in four consecutive Sectional Championships, and Gold in three State Championships.
His boys’ team earned Silver at the Illinois State Gymnastic Championships three times. Among the boys he coached in the gym, seven won individual state championships, and four went on to become National Champions. The doctrine by which he lived and instilled in his athletes was “Luck is When Preparation Meets Opportunity”.
Illinois High School Gymnastic Coach of the Year, (1969 & ’70); National High School Gymnastic Coach of the year, (1970 & ’71); Honoree in the IHSA Gymnastic Coaches Hall of Fame; Honoree in the NCAA Hall of Fame; Honored by the re-naming of the Hinsdale Central Boys’ Invitational Gymnastic Meet as the Anthony J. Canino Gymnastics Invitational.
During the re-dedication of the Invitational Meet, the following was read to those in attendance and serves as a reminder to all of the contributions teachers and coaches give to the young men and women of America. “Tony Canino was a very firm, fair and consistent man. He demanded only the very best of his students and athletes every day.
He was a role model and thinking ‘blueprint’ of action. He. . . redefined boy’s gymnastics with his organized, regimented, and high-powered techniques. His methods were ahead of his time as he utilized such advanced ideas as visualization, pressure sets, repetition training and positive mental focus.” Hinsdale Central won Gold, (1990-’97, 1999-’01, & 2004); Silver, (2003); Bronze, (1989) at his Invitational.
Canino was a member of the Illinois Physical Education Advisory Committee for the U. of Illinois, Circle Campus. Probably the most important honor is not to be found on paper or in any archives. It is the honor that comes with the undying respect and gratitude of the many boys whom he mentored and throughout their lifetimes will remember him and the lessons they learned from him.
m. Georgie Anne Wray, (43 Years). Two children. Five grandchildren.
Sources: Canino’s personal resume, interviews with his wife of 43 years and written information she so courteously forwarded, and the courtesy of photo & information from Jerry Wright author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Larry Banner, Web Manager.