Sanacore takes over as Belleville athletic director

Photo by Jim Hague Dan Sanacore is the new athletic director at Belleville High School, coming from Irvington, where he spent the last two years. Sanacore is a Belleville resident.
Photo by Jim Hague
Dan Sanacore is the new athletic director at Belleville High School, coming from Irvington, where he spent the last two years. Sanacore is a Belleville resident.

When Tom D’Elia received a promotion to become a vice principal in the Belleville school district, it left a vacancy in the Belleville High School athletic director’s position.

Well, the district didn’t wait long to hire a Belleville resident to take over for D’Elia.

Dan Sanacore has been tabbed to replace D’Elia, who stepped down after serving in the slot for the past five years, after the passing of long-time Belleville fixture Karen Fuccello in 2010.

Sanacore is still technically the athletic director at Irvington High School, so he is juggling both positions at this time. The 30-year-old Sanacore has been working as the AD at Irvington for the past two years.

But since Sanacore is a resident of Belleville, he’s excited to be working in his own community.

“It means so much for me to make an impact where I live,” said Sanacore, who has lived in Belleville for the last five years. “I know Tom D’Elia well and he has a fantastic reputation. I want to be able to build on what Tom did.”

Sanacore is a 2003 graduate of Bergenfield High School, where he earned varsity letters in football, outdoor track and indoor track. He then attended Rowan University, majoring in health and exercise science. He got his job in Irvington in 2007 and was a middle school track coach and started an after-school basketball program, before getting into athletic administration.

“Anything I could do to help kids, I did,” Sanacore said.

Sanacore said that he read about the posting of the Belleville job and applied. He was all set to go back to Irvington in the fall.

“I saw it on the Belleville website,” Sanacore said. “I wanted to be in this district. I heard good things about the Belleville school district and I had the desire to do something good in the community where I live. I know Belleville has a proud tradition in athletics. I’m looking forward to working with the athletes. I want to have continued success and growth.”

Sanacore said that he is very familiar with the other schools in the Super Essex Conference after spending the last two years in Irving ton, another school that competes under the banner of the SEC.

“I know the SEC and the way we operate,” Sanacore said. “It’s as close to perfect as you have in high school athletics. I know the competitiveness of the Super Essex Conference and you play to the level of your competition every two years. That’s how we were structured and that’s how we operate. It works well.”

Sanacore knows that he inherits a program in good working condition.

“I can’t speak enough about Tom D’Elia and what he’s done here,” Sanacore said. “I have some big shoes to fill. It’s good to know that Tom will still be in the district and I can lean on him when I need advice. I feel very fortunate to be stepping in after Tom and what he did. I want to continue Tom’s vision and add a little bit of my own, but basically to continue to build on what he’s done.”

Sanacore has spent his time getting accustomed to his new surroundings and new colleagues.

“Everyone has been so welcoming,” Sanacore said. “The coaches have been outstanding. It’s all about what’s best for the athletes and what’s best for the kids. I want to make sure I learn as much as I can about the next person.”

Sanacore said that he has some ideas that he would like to put into place.

“In the past year, we started a military appreciation program,” Sanacore said. “Between the third and fourth quarters of each football game, we honored a member of the military. It worked so well that the SEC has asked me to represent the league and the league members unanimously voted to continue it to all schools. I’m very proud of it and we’re going to take that a step further.”

Sanacore said that he also plans to honor influential Belleville graduates of the past at football games, bringing back some of the legendary athletes and people that graced Belleville over the years.

“We’ve opened up the lines of communication with the township to build a relationship with the township and the community,” Sanacore said. “We want to make that relationship as strong as possible.”

Sanacore believes that he has the right approach to be a successful athletic director, despite the fact that he’s one of the youngest athletic directors in the state.

“I’m very straight forward,” Sanacore said. “That’s just how I operate. I think the coaches seem to be that same way. I love the fact that all of our facilities are generally centrally located. I think we have very good facilities, a very good football facility. I think we all have high expectations. I’m up for the challenge. Right now, I’m just trying to get my feet wet and I’m doing it here all after hours, because I still have a job in Irvington until Aug. 30.”

Sanacore said that he also has volunteered his services to help his successor in Irvington get settled in. Needless to say, it’s going to be a very hectic month for the newest member of the Buccaneer athletic family.

“I’m absolutely excited to be here and can’t wait to get started,” Sanacore said.

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”