After 23 years, 180 wins and two state championships, John Castellano said he has resigned from his head coaching position at Nyack High School. The 56-year old has accepted a coaching job at national power Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., where he will coach the defensive line.
Castellano said he answered an ad in the Bergen Record that called for assistant coaches at Don Bosco. The Ironmen have won the last five state championships and were voted as the No. 1 team in the nation after the 2009 season.
“The opportunity came up for me to coach at a national power that plays a national schedule,” Castellano said. “When that opportunity presented itself, I looked into it and felt it was something I wanted to do.”
Castellano coached the last 31 years in Westchester and Rockland Counties. He worked as an assistant at his alma mater, Mamaroneck, before moving on to Gorton, Roosevelt and Iona College. He took over the Nyack program in 1988 and has been a physical education teacher and head football coach the last 23 years. Castellano’s teams won state titles in 2000 and 2003 and compiled a career record of 180-48-1. His 180 wins are second in Rockland Country history, trailing only North Rockland’s Joe Casarella and Nanuet’s Rich Conklin.
“Certainly, it’s with a lot of mixed emotions,” Castellano said of his decision to leave Nyack. “I love Nyack. It’s been my life for 23 years. I was happy to be a part of the program and the community. It was definitely a difficult decision. I felt like at this time in my career this is something I wanted to do. The opportunity to coach at a level like this is certainly something that excites me.”
Castellano said he met with several of the returning Nyack players on Friday and informed them of his decision. He said he will retain his job at the school, where, in addition to his role as a teacher, he works as the academic and athletic coordinator.
Castellano accepted his new coaching position to work with a powerhouse program, although he did not rule out returning as a head coach at another program in North Jersey in the future.
“If something was to pop up in Jersey, if there was an opportunity to become a head coach, I’d look into it,” he said. “But that’s something that’s down the road. I just want to experience coaching at a high level like this. We’ll see what the future brings.”
UPDATED, 6/22, 6:58 p.m. —
The Nyack head football job has been posted within the district. Castellano’s top assistant for 21 of the last 23 years has been Jose St. Victor. Another assistant in recent years was Mike Ramponi, who also coaches the Nyack varsity basketball team.
Nyack AD Joe Sigillo told me the position has been posted in-house, per district policy. He expects to expedite the search for a new coach with key summer workouts on the horizon.
He said Castellano established a strong tradition at Nyack over the years. He hopes the student-athletes can use his departure and the decreased expectations that are likely to accompany it as motivation going forward.
“We’re looking to move quickly here,” Sigillo said. “He set the bar high. That’s for sure. And we’ll do everything we can to reach it.”