BATAVIA — Months after longtime head coach Brennan Briggs announced that he was stepping away from the Batavia Football program due to personal reasons, the Batavia City School District announced on Monday that BHS alumnus Alex Veltz had been hired as the program’s next head coach.
Veltz is a member of Batavia’s Class of 2005. During his high school years, he was a member of the varsity football team for three seasons, earning second-team All-Greater Rochester honors during his senior campaign. Veltz played fullback under former Batavia head coaches Jon Sanfratello and the late Gary Parisi before graduating from BHS, then Cortland University in 2010.
“I’ve always wanted to be a head coach,” said Veltz. “I hold this program near and dear to my heart—I went to school here, I played here, and I’m proud of our achievements. I look forward to building on the success Brennan, my former teammate, started, and I’m eager to continue to grow this program. I want to thank Mr. Smith, Mr. Bromley, and my family for their support and faith in my vision for this team.”
After his time at Cortland, Veltz immediately returned to the high school football scene as a volunteer assistant at Elba High School under fellow Batavia High School alumnus Mike Cintorino during the 2011 season. The following two seasons, Veltz returned to Batavia, where he served as a JV assistant before departing for Albion High School, where he took a full-time job subsequently as Parisi was hired as the Purple Eagles head coach. With his former coach now leading the football program at the school where he worked as a high school social studies teacher, Veltz saw it as a golden opportunity.
“Coach Parisi was one of my greatest influences,” said Veltz. “The willingness he showed me to never stop being my coach. Even when my senior season ended, he was there for me. He was trying to prepare me for life even after football. He was a guy I owe a lot to. May he rest in peace.”
After five years in Albion, the final three of which he served as the Eagles’ head JV coach, he once again returned to his alma mater, where he served as a JV assistant for two seasons before joining the varsity staff as the team’s offensive coordinator for 2021 and 2022 campaign.
Now, set to lead the program he grew up rooting for and eventually playing for, the opportunity that’s been afforded Veltz is a dream come true.
“When I came back to Batavia, I was torn with the decision,” recalled Veltz, who now works as a social studies teacher at BHS. “There was a pretty clear path for me to become a head coach at Albion, so coming back to Batavia, I kind of had to make a choice. Brennan and I are near the same age, and at that time, I thought he was going to be around for a long time. So I would kind of would be giving up that dream. But at the end of the day, that became worth it to me because coming back home and working with kids in our community and making a difference in the city I grew up in ended up meaning more. So to get both of those things that I really wanted, it’s a dream come true.”
After returning to his alma mater for the second time, it soon became understood that Briggs was not in it for the long haul. This opened the door for Veltz to realize his dream.
“Brennan and I were in communication, and he made it clear that he wasn’t long for the job about a year and a half ago,” said Veltz. “At that point, he did a phenomenal job opening the door and letting me in and letting me learn the ropes the best he could. Serving as a mentor to me while also working together to accomplish what we’ve accomplished. His intentions were vocalized. We just kind of would get to the end of the season, and he would kind of let us know where he stood and if he was going to continue or not. And this was the year that he made the promise to his family that he was going to step away.”
Veltz believes his work ethic and body of work as a football coach, along with a ringing endorsement from Coach Briggs, solidified his candidacy to become the leader of the program.
“The recommendation of Coach Briggs, that carries a lot of weight,” said Veltz. “He brought me up and had called the offense for nine years at that point and handed me the reins because he believed in me and knew the work I would put in. That spoke volumes.”
Moving forward, Veltz’s goals for the program are simple — continue to win and build quality athletes that eventually become contributing members of society.
“You get a new group of kids every year, and at the end of the day, I want to make them better human beings,” said Veltz. “I want them to look back and say I worked toward something and made myself better. And to develop life skills that they can carry with them. I want them to gain something from this game that they can carry forward through life.”
If you ask those that have watched Veltz’s growth over the years, they believe he is the right man for the job.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching with Alex for many years,” said Briggs. “His work ethic, attention to detail and commitment to the development of our student-athletes is admirable. As an alumnus of the Batavia Football program, he cares deeply about the continued success we have established here. His love for football and his dedication to self-improvement are a great combination. I’m confident he is more than capable of leading this program to many more championships while building resilient young men in the process. He is a man of great character and already has an established rapport with the current staff and athletes in the program. I’m excited for Alex, and I know he is up for the challenge.”
Batavia athletic director echoed Briggs’ sentiment.
“Alex has prepared himself for this opportunity,” said Bromley. “He will continue the work we have done to bring our football program to one of the best in Section V while at the same time add his own style. Alex will focus on our players being high-character student-athletes first and football players second. Under Alex’s leadership, I believe that we will continue to be a top-tier football program in Section V.”
Batavia is coming off back-to-back sectional championship-winning seasons under Briggs, the sixth sectional title under the now-former Blue Devils head coach. During his 11 seasons as head coach, Briggs guided Batavia to six sectional championships. Before Briggs took over the Blue Devils football program, it had last achieved championship glory 23 years prior.