When you’ve coached as long as Nick Augelli has, you are going to have your share of milestone wins, as his 683 career victories at Crosby can attest to.
And there is very little that would come as a surprise. But despite a certain sportswriter’s efforts to spill the beans because he too was unaware of the surprise, Augelli was genuinely caught off-guard Friday night before the game against Sacred Heart when he was honored with a plaque and trophy for his 50 years of coaching at the school.
This is season No. 40 as varsity head basketball coach for the active leader in CIAC wins (he only trails former St. Joseph coach Vito Montelli, who finished with 878. (“I won’t be around to catch Vito,” Augelli, 72, has said more than once.).
His first 10 seasons, beginning in 1969, was as JV coach. He also proudly recollected his time as the varsity girls tennis coach in the early 1980s, which included four straight NVL championships.
Augelli relayed a story when he had open-heart surgery a year and a half ago. “My wife said that when I came out of surgery, I asked the doctor, ‘Can I coach again?’ I don’t remember saying it,” Augelli said. “I still love it. I can’t wait to come to practice. I have a great group of players. The last couple of years has made it all worth it. I don’t have any kids of my own. (Sometimes) I’m their father.”
Jeff Nielsen has been the Amity varsity coach since 1998. The program has had its share of important wins, including reaching an SCC tournament final in 2008 and advancing to a CIAC state final (Division II) last year for the first time in program history.
But on Friday, the Spartans won at Wilbur Cross, 57-52 in overtime — the first time the program has ever won at what is now known as Bob Saulsbury Court.
“You don’t think about it during the game, but when you get a moment to breathe after the game, you realize it’s a huge win for the team and the program,” Nielsen said. “It allows the team to believe it can win anywhere.”
Granted, despite both teams being in the Southern Connecticut Conference, the two teams haven’t played every year since the league was formed. But any time you can win a game in the Elm City, it’s a feather in your cap.
James Van Hise led all scorers with 23 points for Amity.
“We have some tough road games remaining on our schedule,” Nielsen said. “This boost in confidence can change the team’s expectations.”