Chris Watts was introduced Friday morning as Notre Dame-Fairfield’s next boys basketball coach.
A press conference was held to introduce Watts, the former coach and schoolboy star from St. Joseph. Watts, who turned 47 Friday, resigned on Thursday after four seasons and a 43-43 record for the Cadets.
“It wasn’t a hard decision for me,” Watts said. “The only hard thing about it was leaving Coach (Vito) Montelli and the kids.”
Montelli started the St. Joseph program and coached for 50 seasons, compiling a state-record 878 wins. Watts played for Montelli in the mid-1980s, then went onto play at Providence College.
Watts, a Hamden resident, was Montelli’s assistant for nine seasons before becoming the head coach of the Cadets’ program after Montelli retired in August of 2012.
[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#9cb3eb” text=”#fdfefd” width=”40%” align=”left” size=”1″ quote=”This is a great opportunity for me. Great opportunities don’t come around too often. I could see the writing on the wall where I was.” ” cite=”— CHRIS WATTS” parallax=”off” direction=”left”]
“I told him (he was resigning) and he wasn’t upset with me,” Watts said. “When I met with the (Notre Dame) administration (upon being hired), I told them, ‘Don’t be surprised to see Vito Montelli in our gym throughout the year. He will continue to support me. He was sorry that the school would sort of allow me to slip away.”
Watts replaces Vin Laczkoski, who went 175-72 during his 10-year tenure, including back-to-back appearances in the Class M state finals the last two seasons and the South-West Conference tournament title this past season.
Notre Dame athletic director Rob Bleggi said in a statement that Watts’ “knowledge and understanding of the game of basketball is undeniable. The experience and professionalism he brings with him will only help continue the winning tradition of boys’ basketball at ND.”
Jim Olayos was St. Joseph’s athletic director when Watts was hired. He is now Notre Dame’s director of athletic advancement.
“I would have made this decision even if Jim Olayos hadn’t been here, Watts said. “I talked with my entire family about this. I was affiliated for 33 years (with St. Joseph), but they all felt it was time. This is a great opportunity for me. Great opportunities don’t come around too often. I could see the writing on the wall where I was.”
Watts was alluding to kids he would have liked to bring into St. Joseph’s basketball program, as had happened in year’s past according to Watts, but were now being denied by the school’s admission.
“The schools is going in a different direction,” Watts said. “They gave me such a great opportunity and I met a lot of great people.”