By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
After spending nearly 50 years of his life in the sport of basketball, Rich Corsetto found himself missing the game a lot.
“I’ve been out of coaching for three years and I really missed it,” said Corsetto, a member of the National Junior Colleges of America Hall of Fame. “I missed working with the kids on a daily basis. Wins and honors are good. So are championships. But the kids I’ve coached and seen them move on to be successes in life, that’s the reason why I wanted to come back. I go to Paterson or Jersey City and I hear, ‘Coach, how are you?’ I like that. I missed it so much.”
So when Corsetto heard of the opening as the head boys’ basketball coach at North Arlington, he jumped at the chance.
“I’m a basketball lifer,” Corsetto said. “I’ve had a basketball in my hands since I was seven years old. I had to get back into it.”
Corsetto was appointed as the new coach of the Vikings last week. He replaces David Walsh, who resigned after last season after 10 years.
Corsetto was previously the head coach at Passaic County Tech for nine years when the school first opened, then went on to become an assistant coach at both Bloomfield College and NJIT.
Corsetto then made his mark as the head coach at Hudson County Community College from 1990 through 1996. When that school dropped basketball, he moved on to become the head coach at Passaic County Community College from 1996 through 2010.
Before he got into coaching, Corsetto was a standout athlete at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he eventually was drafted by two professional sports – the Pittsburgh Condors of the old American Basketball Association and the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 20 years as a college coach, Corsetto won 435 games. He also owns a gaudy 235-83 record on the high school level, so Corsetto has won a total of 670 games as a basketball coach over 33 years.
Now, he’s ready for the next challenge in his life.
“I don’t know anything about North Arlington,” Corsetto said. “I know that the people are nice. I’ve met the administration, the principal (Louis Manuppelli), the athletic director (Dave Hutchinson) and they are very nice people. I didn’t know anyone personally there. I just saw the job listed and gave it a shot.”
Corsetto has already met his new players and had some informal workouts.
“We got the kids together a couple of times,” Corsetto said. “I think they’re responding well.”
Corsetto said that he hired local coach Dominick Bellifimine to serve as one of his assistants.
“Dominick is a great guy and a hard worker,” Corsetto said. “He’s been working the kids out and likes what he sees.”
Corsetto is entering his new job totally blind.
“I know nothing at all,” Corsetto said. “I knew back in the day, North Arlington had some great tradition. I checked some things out before I went to the interview. North Arlington is a great place, a great school with a nice little group of kids. They seem to be hard workers. There are a couple of kids with experience, so that helps. We’re going to do the best we can.”
Corsetto has been impressed with the support he has already received.
“North Arlington has very nice people who care about the kids,” Corsetto said. “They are big into athletics and that helps that they have interest. They also care about academics as well. That’s a good start for me.”
As a coach, Corsetto was known for having fast break offenses in his days at Hudson and later Passaic.
“We’re not going to have the same kids that I had at the college level,” Corsetto said. “I know that. But we’re still going to try to get the ball up the court. My philosophy is to get the ball up the court and run a little, play a little up tempo.”
Corsetto knows that the only way the Vikings are going to be successful is the defensive end of the floor.
“We have to play defense,” Corsetto said. “Defense wins championships. We’re going to press a little on defense and stress defense with them. We’re going to throw a bunch of different defenses at the opponents. To be able to run, we have to get the ball, so if we get turnovers, we can try to push the ball a little.”
Needless to say, Corsetto is excited to be back in the game.
“I’m like a kid who gets his first lollipop,” Corsetto said. “I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to it, getting in the gym every day and working hard. I’m very motivated and anxious to get started. It’s good to be back.”