One of Huntington High School’s greatest coaches ever passed away suddenly last week. Aaron Littman, who taught physical education over parts of five decades and won three Suffolk titles and the 1975 Long Island championship as head coach of the Blue Devil boys’ lacrosse team was 79 years old.
A member of Huntington High School’s Class of 1955, Coach Littman went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees at Cortland State University. He began his teaching career in the Huntington School District on September 1, 1959 and worked at Lincoln, Roosevelt and Woodbury Avenue elementary schools, Robert K. Toaz and J. Taylor Finley junior high schools and Huntington High School before retiring on July 1, 1991.
His commitment to Huntington and its students was evident when two years into his career, Coach Littman took a leave of absence to enlist in the US Marines to prevent being drafted for an even longer period of time.
Coach Littman began his Huntington lacrosse coaching career with the 1962 Blue Devil junior varsity. He became head coach in 1969. In 10 seasons at the helm of the varsity, he finished first or second every year and amassed a record of 133-52.
Born and raised in Huntington, Coach Littman lived in Northport for the last 48 years of his life. Following his coaching career, he worked as a commercial lobster fisherman, staking out ground in the Long Island Sound. He loved life on the water and seemed to have a perpetual tan long before the advent of tanning beds and salons.
A powerful looking man, Coach Littman possessed a deep voice and what appeared to be boundless energy. He commanded his classes and teams with confidence and ease. He didn’t like any nonsense. He was respected and admired by his faculty and coaching staff colleagues.
Some of his most memorable teams included the 1971 squad that went 19-1 and won the Suffolk championship. His 1973 team recorded a 17-3 mark and again won the county crown.
Huntington coach Aaron Littman
on the field with his troops.
The 1975 Long Island championship team was somewhat of a surprise. The Blue Devils defeated Brentwood Ross (10-5) and Half Hollow Hills (7-6) in the county tournament before upsetting defending Long Island champion Ward Melville in the Section XI finals, 10-9. Huntington went on to topple highly regarded Manhasset in the Long Island finals at Hofstra, 9-4.
That 1975 season was magical. Huntington struggled to put together a 10-6 record during the regular season, but it all came together for the Blue Devils in the playoffs. In the county finals against highly favored Ward Melville, Kurt Sohn repeatedly won the faceoff and attackman Rich McGuire scored seven goals.
McGuire outmaneuvered the defense play after play, getting behind it and taking passes from Sohn, Ken Calligar and Dan Millner in the crease and converting them into what looked like easy goals. McGuire’s amazing performance earned him the Eric Schmidt Memorial Award as the game’s outstanding player.
Coach Littman’s game plan against Ward Melville was brilliant. “We took all our plays and threw them out,” he told Newsday after the game. “We found out that the opposition knew our plays better than we did.” What won Huntington the game was what came to be known as the “spontaneous” play.
Sohn would win the faceoff and then the Blue Devils would pass the ball around until McGuire would break free directly in front of the net, get a pass and fire it into the goal. “We’re a spontaneous team,” Millner told Newsday. “We don’t practice plays. Whatever happens, happens.”
Coach Littman admitted he was just as shocked as anyone by the Blue Devils’ post-season run after suffering six regular season losses. “We’re very surprised we ended up this far,” he told Newsday. “Our opposition seemed so strong early in the season. These kids just made themselves as the season went along.” Huntington won its last 11 games and finished with a 14-6 record.
A crowd estimated at 7,000 turned out for the Long Island championship game against Manhasset on Wednesday, June 4, 1975 at 8 p.m. at Hofstra. The Blue Devils were outshot 13-2 in the first period alone. But Coach Littman rallied his troops. Bruce Pomper scored three goals and Millner and McGuire tallied two goals each. Dave Wood and Bob Garry also scored for Huntington in the game. It was the first Long Island title for the Blue Devils since 1965.
The 1975 season exemplified Coach Littman’s never give up philosophy. Huntington lost its first four games of the season, including a 16-1 wipeout at the hands of Maryland’s Gilman High School. “When we lost those first four games, my wife told me maybe it’s a rebuilding year,” Coach Littman told Newsday after the win over Manhasset. “But I couldn’t accept it. I could see in certain instances that the kids were capable of doing something. I don’t think they knew how good they were themselves.”
A familiar face around Northport, Coach Littman ran in road races for decades. It seemed as if he would always be on or near the water. He regularly ran into many former players and teaching and coaching friends in area restaurants.
Survivors include Coach Littman’s wife of 54 years, Bobbi, children Steven (Sharon), Cheryl (Brett Klopp) and Marc (Juliane) and seven grandchildren. He is also survived by his two sisters, Flora Lee Cohen and Roberta Nelson and three nieces.
A graveside service was held at Northport Rural Cemetery in Northport on Sunday. Those wishing to honor Coach Littman’s memory with a donation are encouraged to support the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation or the Cow Harbor Warriors.