There’s not one particular reason that has gone into Jake Palluzzi’s decision to resign from coaching at Branford after 29 seasons.
“Everybody does it differently, There are a lot of other variables,” Palluzzi said.
Thirty-three straight seasons (the first four at North Branford) of day after day during the winter season on the job, other than Christmas Day, was one variable. Going to visit two of his children in college for a weekend if need be was another. Having his son Jake play for someone else other than his dad was yet another variable. He is still a few years away from entering the high school.
“I don’t want to put him in that position,” the elder Palluzzi said.
So, after giving this decision thought for more than a year, Palluzzi, 56, emailed his principal, Lee Panagoulias, a few weeks ago to let him know of his decision to step down at season’s end.
“I have had the privilege of working with Coach Palluzzi as a player for win number one (at North Branford) and with Jake as his principal on win number 345,” Panagoulias said. “Jake brought the winning attitude he learned from his high school coach Tom Murray to a struggling North Branford program. He reinforced the same values with his players then as he does now; hard work, pride, and teamwork.”
But it’s not like Palluzzi is going anywhere. He lives in town, is the longtime co-athletic director with Sav Synodi and still coaches at the youth level.
“So whoever gets the position, I’ll be there to help him through whatever he needs to do,” Palluzzi said.
Palluzzi is currently the longest standing boys basketball coach in the Southern Connecticut Conference
“It is hard enough to be a high school coach nowadays, and Jake has done for 30-plus years. That is pretty impressive,” said SCC commissioner Al Carbone, who was on the opposite end of Palluzzi’s first win at Branford while playing at East Haven. “The SCC is not what it is without coaches like Jake. He has always been a leader and a mentor to all of his colleagues around the league.”
Palluzzi picked up his 300th win at the school, 345th overall, last week. With the victory over East Haven Monday, Branford qualified for the state tournament for the 14th time in 15 seasons.
Murray, the all-time leader at Branford with 322 wins, coached the Hornets from 1967-87. He recalled a conversation with Palluzzi’s mom following the player’s sophomore season that he would one day replace him at Branford.
He ended up being off by one year. Ted Kaczynski coached the Hornets for one season before Palluzzi came over from North Branford in 1988.
“It was his ability and commitment to Branford,” Murray said. “He brought not only a tremendous knowledge of basketball but an even better knowledge of people. His ability to motivate kids, solve problems and deal with people in a positive way is simply remarkable. He will be hard to replace.”
Palluzzi went onto play for Art Leary at Southern Connecticut State University. He is a past coach of the year for both the Register and the New Haven County Tap-Off Club and is a member of the Branford Sports Hall of Fame.
Palluzzi did make one thing perfectly clear: he is not stepping away from coaching for good.
“This is not a retirement. I don’t know if I will get back into it,” Palluzzi said. “I’m still coaching at the youth level, so who knows?”