Livingston’s 18-11 season in 2015 was a story of a young team starting to come of age. The Lancers won two games in the Essex County Tournament, including a win over an eventual state champion, as well as a pair of victories in the NJSIAA Tournament.
Head coach Jason Daily has been at the helm since 2001. And while he’s coached some tremendous teams to county and state sectional titles over the years (Daily has won three county titles and two state sectional crowns), his work this year with the Lancers was noteworthy.
In a game at the Mount St. Dominic Invitational on April 25, Daily sent a quick message when he benched pretty much his entire starting lineup and replaced them with younger players who had little game experience, after feeling his starters weren’t playing hard enough.
Livingston went on to win that game, against Delaware’s Red Lion Christian, impressively, 11-5. And while the starters watched, not one of them pouted. Every player was by the dugout fence, encouraging their teammates.
That game may have sent Livingston in the right direction, as the Lancers would win eight of its next 12 games.
Daily’s presence among the players is one of quiet intensity. Rarely does he yell, but he gets his point across succinctly. He’s patient, yet demanding, knowing full well what a player’s capability can, or should be.
Livingston will have to replace its battery next year, as pitcher Sami Passeri and catcher Marina Lombardi are set to graduate this month.
But the one constant which should keep Livingston in the hunt for championships in 2016 is Daily.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s the coach of the year, every year,” said West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori Llauget. “Jason does a tremendous job. His teams are always prepared and play the game the right way. We hadn’t beaten them in the last four years until this season, so it was gratifying for our kids to defeat a top-notch program. When we won the county semifinal against Nutley, Jason was the first one to congratulate me. We’ve always had a very good rivalry, but more importantly, Jason is a friend, and someone I can always turn to for advice.”