Lauren Adams is stepping away from coaching and stepping into parenthood; as her assistant of four years, Matt Paglione, will take over the Nottingham girls’ basketball team. File Photo.
By Rich Fisher
Sep. 10: Matt “The First Responder” Paglione earned his first head coaching job last spring when he was named head man of the Nottingham High girls lacrosse program.
It didn’t take him long to get his second.
Paglione was recently named to take over the Northstars’ girls’ basketball program for Lauren Adams, who stepped down to prepare for the birth of her first child in January.
“Pags” feels his lacrosse experience – although not filled with wins – laid some important groundwork for his new job.
“Having previous varsity coaching experience will help my time management skills throughout this off-season,” said Paglione, who coached the Stars’ girls JV basketball program the previous four years, and is in his fourth year as boys’ JV soccer coach. “All of the off-season tasks like setting up fundraisers, clothing orders, summer league, weight-room, open gym, they are similar between most sports. With a couple years of head varsity coaching and great role models in our athletic program, this has been helpful in setting our program up for a successful season.”
And that’s before practice even starts.
“As for in season, it allowed me to grow and learn how to approach different situations,” Paglione continued. “I always told our girls ‘We either win or we learn.’ And trust me, we did our fair share of learning,” he added with a laugh.
The bottom line in The FR’s mind, however, goes beyond the score of the game.
“Taking every challenge as an opportunity to make a connection with a student athlete and to grow from those experiences is the best part about sports,” he said. “Wins and losses are what goes in the record books but the impact we can have as coaches and teachers on so many different athletes is an incredible opportunity that I will never take for granted.”
A Pennsbury High graduate who played basketball and baseball, Paglione graduated from Penn State with a degree in kinesiology and coached JV basketball in Louisa, Va. for two years before coming to Nottingham.
He coached JV baseball for two years, and had been Adams varsity assistant for four seasons. That was time well spent for both parties.
“Matt is an extremely knowledgeable and dedicated coach and teacher, and just overall, a really great person,” Adams said. “Over the past four years, he has developed a strong rapport with JV and varsity players alike, and the girls love him and have tremendous respect for him. I have no doubt they will work hard for him and buy into his system.
“As an assistant, he made me a better coach, and his knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment to the team will help him successfully take over the program.”
Conversely, Paglione is quick to note that Adams also made him a better coach, along with several other people he has been exposed to at Nottingham and beyond.
“My dad has always been a big influence in my life, in athletics, academics, and every other way possible; I owe everything to him for helping me reach this point in my young career,” said Paglione, who drew county-wide acclaim last winter for extinguishing a roll of paper towels inadvertently set ablaze at Trenton High soccer coach Joe “Gramps” Fink’s Christmas party. “Also, I have to thank coach Adams, coach (Mike) Braender, and coach (Jim) Maher for taking me under their wing and showing me the world of coaching. Being a part of some incredibly successful programs has really shown me what it takes to be a varsity head coach.”
Like most coaches, Paglione will have to deal with injuries. But he never planned on losing one of his key performers for the season before even holding a practice. Giuliana Pocino is lost for three straight athletic seasons after tearing her ACL, which is a heart-breaking blow to a lot of folks, as well as the athlete herself.
“I cried; we all did,” Paglione said. “I feel bad for coach (Christie) Fink and the soccer girls, it’s an obvious blow to our basketball program and a big hit to the lacrosse team as well. But most of all, I feel bad for G. She is one of those student-athletes that makes Nottingham a special place. She has an infectious positive attitude and a high energy motor that you just can’t teach.”
Paglione will have enough tangible things to teach, however, and he can’t wait to get started in two months.