Nick Delcalzo leaves lasting legacy at Hasbrouck Heights High School
Born and raised in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, Nick Delcalzo was one of nine kids where sports played a pivotal role. Delcalzo participated in football, baseball, basketball and wrestling.
“I remember going to football games with my father when I was younger and watching basketball games in Lodi when I was in grammar school,” said Delcalzo. “All nine of us went to Hasbrouck Heights High School and graduated from there.”
A 1971 graduate of Hasbrouck Heights, Delcalzo played on the 1969 football team that went undefeated at 9-0, average margin of victory was an astounding 46 points and yielded just 62 points. Attending Seton Hall University, Delcalzo played club football but ended up blowing out his knee. After graduating Seton Hall, Delcalzo coached basketball and director of recreation for the Department of Army located at the Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey.
However, Delcalzo’s career would change forever with one phone call from Hasbrouck Heights High School varsity football head coach Pete LaBarbiera informing him of an open physical education/coaching job.
Starting out in the elementary and middle schools, Delcalzo was eventually hired by athletic director John Tessaro, Delcalzo also worked alongside with former superintendent Joe Loungo. “I coached the freshman for the first couple of years, won the first league title in girls basketball in 1979. “I coached girls softball for 28 years, bowling and golf.”
In 1985 Delcalzo ascended to another high profile position as the Aviators varsity football head coach. Despite losing the first two years in the state finals, Delcalzo went on to have one of the most successful runs, amassing 270 wins that is the most for a Bergen County Coach at one school, six sectional titles including a three peat from 2016 to 2018 and winning two NJIC Conference Titles. Hasbrouck Heights was also named the Bergen County Group 1 & 2 Team of the Year in 2018 registering an undefeated season at 12-0 and winning a league, conference, state and bowl championship.
“These are great accomplishments for out players who worked really hard and coaching staff that is second to none,” said Delcalzo. “I was very fortunate to have great players and kids. Frank (D’Amico), Rocky (Minichello) and Adam (Baiera) put a lot of time in and a good staff makes it easier. Delcalzo credits his the rest of the assistant coaches as well in Sean Mansfield, Dom D’Amico, Kevin Delcalzo, Mark Sonzogni, Pat Campen, Ray Scalvino, Corey Lange and team manager Brandon Ibrabnian.”
Adding to his list of accolades Delcalzo is a member of the NJSIAA Hall of Fame, Coaches Association Hall of Fame, receiving the New Jersey Football Officials Association Award and selected by the New York Giants and Gatorade 2018 Lou Rettino High School Football Coach of the Year.
“I never expected and looked for this,” Delcalzo said. “When I accepted the award I said I was yelling at you for 35 years and now you don’t have me to yell at you. Being honored by your peers is good and I respect the officials. These are great honors and give a lot of credit to my high school coach Pete LaBarbiera who I played and coached with for years and learned a lot.”
“The Lou Rettino High School Football Coach of the Year was a great honor and remember going to his games when he was at Union High School. I was very fortunate to have great players and kids and never did this for the money.”
“The other guy I talk about all the time is Greg Toal. Greg and I played together and paths are very similar even though he is way above everyone else in the country and state and brought football to the state of New Jersey. Our vacations were Greg, Pete, me and our families and we would go to Wildwood in June and attend a football clinic and great experience for all of us.”
This past season that turned out to be his final one with Hasbrouck Heights, Delcalzo guided the Aviators team to a 9-2 record and state sectional final where Hasbrouck Heights lost to Park Ridge 21-14. “I did it one step at a time, coached one year at a time and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go,” said Delcalzo. “I retired from education three years ago and did football, had a great time and time to pass the baton off.”
“Our kids played really hard this year when we lost a lot of kids and were ready to play and a great tribute to my coaching staff. These guys played for me and been here a very long time and very loyal. A lot of seniors we lost last year, I had a great running back and offensive line. We lost our first game but the kids got better and better and we made it to the final. People say we didn’t do too good this year but 9-2 is pretty good.”
“I’m very fortunate with the things that happened to me, the vice principal of the school. The administration has been very supportive and those things are very important to me. Our principal Linda Simmons who was very involved and concerned about the sports teams’, superintendent Dr. Matthew Helfant and current athletic director Mike Scuilla. Our away games we always had a crowd and tribute to our community who love sports here. The mayor played for me and the police chief and I played together and he coaches the junior football league.”
“My son has been coaching with me for a couple of years and on the 2007 team that went 12-0 and when I said I’m thinking of packing it in he said Dad you are ready and let somebody else do it. Wins and losses are definitely important but what you get is the comradery from the kids and coaches and everything they have done for you. A lot of the kids I coached, I’m now coaching their kids and that’s something I’m going to miss.”
“Coaching is year-round and have to worry about the weight room. When I started coaching I was the offensive coordinator then the head coach. My father was my biggest critic and when I would come home after a game and whether I won a tough game or lost he would say what were you doing. My parents’ were very supportive in what I did and respect that. They taught me a lot that I transferred to my family, great people and miss them dearly.”
For Delcalzo, the support from his family, especially his wife Gloria, three kids – Nicholas, Holly and Kevin and four grandchildren Addyson, Nicholas, Christopher and Gavin have meant the most to him. “Gloria is a saint and she and my kids sacrificed a lot because this is what I love to do and always behind it. They were always involved around the game and my backbone. My wife is a big supporter win or lose.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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