With news of Nick Gregorio not returning to coach Johnson football next season, fellow coaches and former coworkers share their thoughts on what it was like to work with him.
John Liberato, Head Football Coach, Summit High School: “I think Nick is an awesome guy who does a great job. After just two years at Clark, I thought he did a very decent job. He made the playoffs his first year and went 5-and-5 this year. The best game of year was when he played against us in that one-point game. I don’t know the circumstances, but you don’t like to hear about anyone not being rehired. I definitely think he has a long career ahead of him."
Gregorio got to know Liberato when he was the assistant coach at New Providence, once telling the Star-Ledger he considers Liberato a mentor and modeled his program after Summit’s.
Dan Garrett, Head Football Coach, Kean University: "When I talked to Nick last night, I was absolutely shocked. I would never in a million years have guessed that he was calling to tell me he wasn't rehired.
Nick was my assistant running back coach and I also coached him at Montclair State. I knew I wanted a guy like him because he was loyal, trustworthy, and always had great attention to detail. He'd be there early, do the extra work and soak up information like a sponge.
I’m still in shock. I saw a couple high school coaches at the Ty Lewis Coaches Clinic tonight at Manasquan High School, and 'shocked' is the word that keeps coming up when we talk about this.
Nick’s a very personable young man, he carries himself well, he knows football, knows the game and he has a great heart. I can’t imagine him having any problems getting a coaching job, but in this economy, finding a teaching job in Phys Ed. might be a challenge. I'm hopeful football will open doors for him."
Tom Falato, Assistant Football Coach, Bergen Catholic High School: "I first coached with Nick when I was head coach at Ridge, and he was a young coach just coming out of Springfield College. He did a terrific job for us. He was totally organized and related well to the kids. And he was a great help to me, that’s for sure."
Frank Bottone, recently retired longtime New Providence football head coach (who coached Gregorio during his tenure): "I just don’t understand how they could let a guy like that go,” Bottone said. “He’s a first class person, a gentleman and a great coach. And the kids love him from what I hear."
Regarding whether or not Gregorio was interested in applying for Bottone’s job when he retired this year, Bottone said, “If he was interested, it was because I had said I would like someone who had played and worked in New Providence to get my job. But everyone looks around and applies other places. Principals do that. Every profession does it. I don’t know why they would hold that against him.”
As to Gregorio’s future, Bottone says he’ll be just fine. “If I was still coaching, I would grab him in a minute. He was a teacher at Ridge, which is one of the best schools around. As a coach, he’s tops as far as I’m concerned, and he’ll get picked up right away. It's Johnson's loss, that's for sure."