The landscape of Connecticut high school basketball will never be the same now that legendary coach Vito Montelli has retired at St. Joseph (Trumbull, Conn.)
The 80-year-old Montelli completed 50 years at St. Joseph with a brilliant 878-329 record and 11 state championships. He is the winningest coach in New England history and the only one to win Connecticut state basketball titles in all four classes. He went out in a blaze of glory by winning the last two Class LL crowns.
A member of the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame, Montelli has been succeeded by his assistant of nine years, Chris Watts, who graduated from St. Joseph in 1987. He insisted that he would not retire unless Watts got the job.
Though he uses a cane and has had two new knees, a new hip and a cataract in one eye, the ageless coach doesn't plan to slow down that much.
He told MaxPreps, "I've already had four or five meetings so far (with Watts). We'll have another meeting on Sunday. I go in (to school) every day. I was there this morning and cleared off one of my desks."
Montelli said he expects to remain very active in fund raising, particularly to help students attend the private Catholic school, graduate and attend college. He also will help supervise academics for the basketball players.
"I don't fish, hunt or golf," he said of possible things to occupy him in retirement. "Deep down, my life is my family. My family has gotten to be the biggest fans. We have 17 grand children and a group of 10 would go to every game. Our lives have revolved around our church and our family," he said of him and his wife of 53 years, Dolores.
With that in mind, most of his large family (he and Dolores have six children) soon will be headed to Newport, R.I., for a well-deserved vacation.