SHELTON – Joe Cavallaro was a mathematics teacher for the better part of four decades, so when the Shelton girls’ basketball coach added up risk vs reward when it came to coaching this season the answer was obvious.
“It was a tough decision, but it is the right decision,” said Cavallaro, who informed the administration that due to COVID-19 concerns he was stepping down. “It was the situation with family, age. It was a bit of a risk so it was time. I will miss it.”
John Danielski has been named head coach.
Cavallaro coached Shelton the past six seasons and made the state tournament in five of those seasons. Overall, he has coached four schools to 383-plus wins. He began with four seasons of boys’ basketball at O’Brien Tech, then went to Seymour High for 16 years, where he led the Wildcats to a Housatonic League championship. After a two-year break, he coached St. Joseph girls to an FCIAC title during his six years in Trumbull.
“I’ll miss the kids, the interaction with the players,” Cavallaro said. “I always enjoyed the practice part as much as the games. I love the teaching aspect.”
Shelton High athletic director John Niski said: “Coach Cav was an amazing coach who brought stability, experience, and knowledge to our program over the past 6 years. He was respected and liked by the players, their parents and the other coaches in the league. His presence in the gym and on the sidelines will be missed greatly by all of us. I wish him the best and would welcome him back at any time.”
Cavallaro said he will watch the team play through the NFHS Network.
“I’ve been texting the girls for months. When I decided to leave, I texted them and we have been texting back and forth,” he said. “They are mature kids, they understand. I wasn’t leaving to coach somewhere else. It was a decision I had to make.”
Shelton’s current roster fit Cavallaro’s coaching style.
“The returning kids are a very good practice group,” he said. “We don’t have players that bring 50 AAU games of experience to the court. But we have athletes that want to play. Each season they came in after playing a fall sport. So that attitude to practice and listen was great. They put down one ball and picked up another. It has worked out great.
“I’m glad that it looks like the girls will have the opportunity to play a whole season, 12 games and a playoff. I think the team is going to be very good.”
Cavallaro has a scrapbook full of memories.
“Over the years, winning the championship at Seymour, which was the last they won was great,” Cavallaro said. “And winning FCIACs with the St. Joseph girls was wonderful. Last year, we won 19 games which was the most in 25 years. I’ve loved coaching each team.”
Cavallaro had one thing he imparted each season.
“As long as they get along and enjoy playing that is what is important,” he said. “We never once mention the record. We just do the best we can every day.”
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