DURHAM >> Nick Economopoulos has seen many basketball games over the years inside the Coginchaug gymnasium. It’s one of his favorite places.
“I’ve always loved walking into that gym,” said Economopoulos. “It’s like a time warp. Whenever I’d go in there to see Wally Camp’s teams on a Tuesday or Friday night, it was about as close to Hoosiers as you can get. And it’s the same now as the day I first walked in there.”
Now, the legendary former girls basketball coach at Lyman Hall and East Catholic is getting his chance to work there.
Economopoulos has replaced Rett Mancinelli as the head coach of the Coginchaug Regional girls basketball team.
Mancinelli, who guided the Blue Devils to the school’s only Class S state championship in 2012, as well as a Shoreline Conference title in 2011, had to step aside due to a work related situation.
“Rett was an excellent coach who accomplished a lot in a short period of time,” said Coginchaug athletic director Ted Lombardo.
Economopoulos, the second winningest girls basketball coach in state history with a little over 600 career wins, is returning to the sidelines after a three-year absence. During that time he coached the Connecticut Starters AAU team, which he has been involved with since 1988, and watched his son, James, play college basketball at Albertus Magnus. (James is the freshman boys basketball coach at Foran this season.)
“I love basketball and I love teaching and coaching it,” said Economopoulos. Eonomopoulos guided Lyman Hall to five state championship appearances and two consecutive Class L state titles in 1985 and 1986. He had a career mark of 371-101 in 20 seasons (1974-1993) at the Wallingford school before leaving for East Catholic (Manchester).
Economopoulos coached 13 seasons at East Catholic where he led the Eagles to Class M state titles in 2002 and 2004.
“He’s been an extremely successful coach in both stops,” Lombardo added. “We feel he was the right fit for us with a veteran team coming back. We’re happy to have him.”
“Durham’s an awesome town,” said Economopoulos. “It’s close to home. They’ve got great fans, a great facility and the people in the community support the school and the team. You can’t ask for more than that.”
Coginchaug opens its season on Dec. 11 with a non-league contest in Bridgeport against Kolbe Cathedral.
“I know there are going to be expectations,” said Economopoulos. “They had a great coach here and they’ve got a good team. I just want to go in there and uphold the tradition and maintain those standards.”