HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - There was praise and hugs, laughs and love, and even a few tears when the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education honored retiring head football coach Nick Delcalzo at its January meeting on Thursday night.
The presentation was emceed by Athletic Director Mike Scuila, and featured congratuttulary speeches from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Helfant, as well as a video presentation of Delcalzo’s career, produced by his son Kevin. In addition to short speeches from the administration reviewing Delcalzo’s accomplishments, two players from the 1990’s spoke, as well as a tribute from John Sedlmeir, representing the current team, and provide a little levity.
Mike Scuila, Athletic Director, Hasbrouck Heights High School
We have all feared this day for many years. I have told Nick many times during my years as Athletic Director to never retire, but I guess after 45 years, his retirement is justified.
On a personal note, I was blessed to have been hired with Nick Delcalzo already as part of our school’s coaching staff. I wasn’t blessed because our school wins so much with him as a coach, or because he has become such a good friend to me and my family...I was fortunate, because Nick taught me that, from my very first day, that leadership and success comes from putting others first, and make nothing about yourself.”
Nick has built relationships with every person he has ever coached, coached with and coached against.
Brian Ille (Class of 1995)
As an alumni, it was always comforting coming back for a Friday night game. At the game you would either see coach yelling at an official, or pacing up and down the sideline, and at that moment, you knew you were home. Throughout his career, Coach Delcalzo also expected more than he thought you could give. He inspired you to be a better man, and be at your best when times were toughest.
The last quality I will touch upon, I did not really understand until I was older. Humility. Coach Delcalzo was secure enough to not only put great coaches on the staff, but great people around the program. Each one of these coaches added something special to the program, and Coach D let them coach, and be themselves.
There will never be another Coach Delcalzo, he is truly a legend. Congratulations on all your accomplishments Coach, and enjoy your retirement."
Mark DiPisa (Class of 1999)
For years, countless children have walked onto that field, unathletic, awkward, unconfident, and sometimes severely learning disabled, often told they would not amount to much. In four short years you have turned them into champions, collegiate athletes, but more importantly, they have become teachers, businessmen, doctors, and lawyers.
I came to Coach Delcalzo’s program from a private school, a 16-year kid, very much an outsider, I was very unsure of myself, I was never sure where I fit in. I will never forget, my sophomore year, a 16-year old in a game scrimmage against Pal Park. I was playing against a talented nose guard, and he was beating me up, left and right, I did not know what I was doing, I was lost out there on the field, I could not get it together.
I came over to the sidelines, Coach pulled me over, he always started every conversation with the same way. He said “Son, I know there is a method to your madness...” I had no clue what he was talking about, to this day. … But before I could say anything he cut me off he said “Mark, no excuses, get the job done. That’s why you are here.”
Well, that interaction might seem somewhat insignificant to most people, it was exactly what this 16-year old outsider needed to hear. My coach had the confidence in me to hold me accountable like everyone else, and give me a kick in the ass when I needed it.
That interaction put me on track to have success for the next three years, and the rest of my life.
Nick, God knows, it took an army to get me where I am today, and you were a general in that army. I am a proud product of Nick Delcalzo. I am a product of his loyalty, a product of his commitment, and a product of his integrity.
To quote the great legend Jackie Robinson, “A life is not important, except for the impact it has on other lives.” Nick the impact you had on my life, and the lives of your other players, is truly legendary, and for that, I thank you.”
John Sedlmeir (Speaking on behalf of the current team)
“I am truly honored to come up and speak on behalf of the thousand of students, that have been impacted by Coach Delcalzo's astonishing good looks and articulate social manner. Over the past 45 years Coach Delcalzo has dedicated his life to coaching and bettering the lives of thousands of young men, while leading one of the most successful football programs in the state.
It was not all about football. It was about mentoring and molding his players into the best people they could be. He instilled in us the importance to respect, sportsmanship and of course, class.
It did not matter who you were, from the first string quarterback or the sophomore back-up, Coach made you feel part of the team.
Even though, at no time during my high school career did you ever pronounce my last name correctly, and there was that one time you had a 10-minute conversation about football with my twin Vincent. Vincent does not play football, Vincent never played football, Vincent doesn't understand football....and in spite of all that, I love just the same.
Finally, on behalf of your current players, as well as the hundreds who have come before me, congratulations on your official retirement, and making Heights football special program it is today.
Coach Nick Delcazo
I thought I was just coming to get a plaque.
I was thrilled when I was able to get a job here coaching football.
I never thought I would ever last this long. I remember when my nephew Robert was born, and you are what, 35 or 36, and my brother goes ‘I hope your coaching when my son is playing’ and I told him, ‘I will never make it that long.’
One thing that stuck out, all these guys who have played for me, and Rocky and my whole staff, is that it was not about winning and losing, it was about being a good person. I think my staff has done a great job with that. You know, making sure everybody is doing the right things, on and off the field, at all times, and that was our goal, and I think we accomplished that.
I’ve had a lot of great memories, not just coaching football, I coached girls softball for 28 years, a lot of great memories, a lot of great kids who have crossed my path.
I read on the wall "100 Years of Athletic Excellence," and I was here for 50 of them.
Everybody asks “Why are you retiring?” “Are you sick? No I am not sick. I went to Mike’s (Scuilla) office and I said “I think it is time.” And I talked to my son Kevin, and I said I am thinking about retiring. He said “Dad, you're ready.”
Before every game, and these guys know it, I was sick to my stomach, no matter who we played, I was sick to my stomach, It was gut-wrenching. I am going, “What am I doing, it should be easier.
“ I would like to thank my principal, Linda (Simmons) has been very supportive, I am going to miss the kids, I am going to miss the people I work with, Mike (Scuilla), Dr Helfant.
It is time for me to step down. I have had a great career, a great life, I have been very blessed. Thank you.
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