NUTLEY, NJ--The cohesiveness of Nutley, NJ has never been more evident than when it comes to helping one of its own.
And on Oct. 19, when the Nutley High football team hosts Lincoln High, of Jersey City, the Homecoming Day contest will have an extra special theme.The Nutley Board of Commissioners has officially proclaimed Oct. 19 as ‘Coach D. Day’, in honor of the Raiders head football coach, Steve DiGregorio.
The official proclamation highlighted DiGregorio’s coaching accomplishments and contributions to the community, as well as the ‘Friends of Coach D‘ adopting the motto "Team Digger - We got your back,’
A number of Nutley High football players were on hand as the proclamation was read, along with team coaches.
A 1979 graduate of Nutley High, DiGregorio has been an educator at his alma mater since 2004, the same year he was named the program’s head coach.
DiGregorio served in that role from 2004-2011, then stepped down as head coach while continuing to teach at the high school. In 2017, he returned as head coach and has held the job since.
This past summer, DiGregorio underwent surgery after not feeling well. He’s currently undergoing chemotherapy and while he’s been attending Nutley’s games, the head coaching responsibilities have gone, on an interim basis, to assistant J.D. Vick.
“Coach D and I talk every day,” said Vick, who is also an educator in the school system. “To me, he’s not Steve, but Coach D. He gets to all of our games, and I know how much that means to our coaches and most importantly, our players. He’s our coach, plain and simple.”
Nutley athletic director Joe Piro is looking forward to what will be a tremendous day in town.
“We’re all very excited about it,” said Piro, himself a NHS grad, and like DiGregorio, a former football player. “It will tie in perfectly with our homecoming activities.”
According to Piro, all ticket sale proceeds will go directly to Coach D and his family. There will also be opportunities to make additional donations at the gates.
The Homecoming festivities begin at 11 a.m. on Coach D. Day, AKA, Oct. 19. The tailgate party begins at 11:45 a.m. and the on-field celebration commences at 12:30 p.m., a half hour before the kickoff of the game between Nutley and Lincoln High.
“It’s exciting to see our community rally around such a quality individual and his family,” said Piro.
Nutley High football is celebrating its 100th season this fall, and the team has worn a special deal on its helmet to commemorate the feat.
DiGregorio played for the Raiders from 1975-1978. After graduating high school, he attended Muhlenberg College, then began his coaching career. In 2010, DiGregorio guided the Raiders to the state sectional championship game, at the brand new MetLife Stadium. He also led Nutley to a 27-16 record from 2008-2011 and four straight playoff appearances.
In the fabled Belleville-Nutley rivalry, DiGregorio was 2-1-1 against the Bellboys and Bucs as a player and, so far, is 8-1 against the Bucs as a coach, including last year’s 20-13 Raiders win, in a NJSIAA crossover game, at the Oval. He trails Belleville’s John Senesky by one game for the most wins by a coach in the rivalry.
Naming Oct. 19 in DiGregorio’s honor was certainly heartfelt for Steve, who wrote this statement for the record at the Board of Commissioners meeting.
“Thank you Mayor Scarpelli, Commissioners Petracco, Evans, Tucci, and Rogers for this this proclamation. I am confident that I am not worthy of this, but I am very grateful and humbled by your thinking of me during this time.
“I have been blessed with having been raised in Nutley by my wonderful parents, Silvio and Rose Mary, who were long-time contributors to the Nutley community. They instilled so many values and lessons to my sister, Lynda and me that have been passed down to our own children. I’d like to accept this very special honor in my parents’ memory.
“I love Nutley. Everything about my childhood and adolescence was terrific and memorable. I am deeply honored to be teaching History in the same building where I learned history. I am deeply honored to be your head football coach to a program that I was a part of that helped shape so much of my formative years.
“Each day, I try to make a difference – somedays I succeed – some days I do not. Because of the lessons and experiences that the Nutley community taught me, I’ll never stop trying to have an impact on my students, my players, and my colleagues.
“I am a proud son of Nutley, and I’ll always remain one. Thank you for this honor.”
Since 2016, TAPintoNutley.net has been the only locally owned news organization serving the Township of Nutley, and is a member of the New Jersey Press Association. The Nutley Board of Commissioners made TAPintoNutley.net the township's 'Official Electronic News Source' starting in 2019.
Got a news tip? email us at Nutley@TAPinto.net