NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - West Essex Varsity Baseball Coach Scott Illiano, who has been the West Essex High School Varsity Baseball Coach for 20 years, recently scored his 300th win with this year's team. Illiano, a high school special education teacher, served as an assistant coach for two years before becoming the varsity team coach.
Illiano said he is proud of the Varsity team's record and attributes the 300th win on April 13 to the hard work of the team, which is 5-2 so far this season.
"I’m proud of the consistency that we’ve shown over time but I also think that this speaks to the fact that we have worked very hard and have had a lot of people who have really committed themselves, from my great staff, to supportive parents, and most of all a lot of talented players who care," he said. "Baseball is a very difficult game, and to play it at a high level requires a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication."
Illiano also had advice for new coaches. "Find out what successful people are doing and do what they do," he said. "The best teachers are the best learners and the shortest pen is far better than the longest memory. I believe if you are honest and you work hard, you have a chance to be successful in anything and that does not exclude the profession of coaching."
"I love baseball and I love the young men who play it," he said. "I’ve always just had a passion for the game. I love the fact that in baseball, there is no clock to run out. You can’t dump the puck in the corner or kneel on the ball so to speak. You have to get on the mound and pitch and defend and with that, it really brings a lot of intense pressure."
Illiano was also an assistant ice hockey coach for 18 seasons at West Essex and one season at West Orange, he said. His last season was in 2012 with the hockey program.
"I have some incredible memories in hockey, namely winning two State Championships in two different professional stadiums, both the Continental Airlines Arena and the Prudential Center," he said.
Illiano is also an author. He published a book titled, "Our Time-A High School Baseball Coach's Journey," in October, 2011.
"The book is about my journey as a baseball coach, the struggles I experienced, the many lessons I have learned along the way, a behind-the-scenes look into the life of a coach that took place during a very memorable season in 2006," he said.
As for the future, Illiano said he is not concerned with the number of wins, but rather the impact he can have on a player.
"I know I’ve done my best to be a positive influence on my players,” he said. “I’m also very proud that four of my former players are currently head varsity coaches in North Jersey. I realize our culture will always tell us to worship the scoreboard. I understand it and I get that, but eventually trophies do become dusty while being a positive influence on others is far more lasting."
"As far as future goals, I have found that the more you focus on winning, the more stressed out you get and the more lonely you become," he said. "I try to keep my focus on instruction, on teaching, on development, and on building positive lifelong relationships. I believe winning is a bi-product of focusing on those things so that’s where I try to keep my focus.
"I have been asked how long I will coach and I’m not really sure,” he stated. “Some nights I’m here very late in the weight room after practice or games and I feel great. My energy bucket is full and I feel like I have a lot of gas left in the tank. I also have a fire that burns inside me for baseball so we’ll see."
Illiano was an undergraduate at Ramapo College and earned his teaching certificate and master's degree in educational leadership at Montclair State University. Illiano earned four varsity letters as a high school player at Cedar Grove High School and earned First Team All-State Group 1 honors as a senior. He then played baseball at Ramapo College where he was co-captain of his team senior year.