The news was twinged with a bit of sadness, but much more euphoria.
Frank DiPiano, Nutley High School’s outstanding wrestling coach for a decade, has stepped down from that post to take an administrative position at his high school alma mater, St. Benedict’s Prep, in Newark.
The 32-year-old DiPiano was a standout wrestler at St. Benedict’s. Needless to say, his surname at St. Benedict’s is legendary. Frank’s dad, the great Michael DiPiano, Sr., was a Hall of Fame wrestling coach there, as well as the school’s athletic director.
Michael’s story has been well documented. He is a long-time advocate for organ donation (see the attached link) and in 2011 was the recipient of the prestigious Medal of St. Benedict’s, the highest honor the school can award to a Lay person.
Frank’s older brother, Mike, was also a standout athlete and wrestling coach at St. Benedict’s, and was inducted in the school’s Hall of Fame a few years back.
But now, it’s Frank’s turn to add his legend to a historic school of higher learning.
“It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Nutley wrestling,” said DiPiano when he called me a few weeks back to announce his move. “But at this point of my life, this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I won’t be coaching, but I’ll be involved in sports administration at St. Benedict’s. I’m very excited about the opportunity.”
The youngest of three born to Michael and Karen DiPiano, Frank has established himself as not only a quality coach, but a wonderful person. As classy and respectful as they come, Frank is indeed ready to make this move in his professional life.
Bobby Trombetta was Nutley’s finest wrestler during the DiPiano era, winning three NJSIAA medals.
His work as Nutley’s wrestling coach speaks for itself. He took a program that had gained some momentum under former coach Carmen LoRe, and brought it to another level. He helped Nutley become the dominant team at District 14, with four straight championships through last season, as well as one of the best in Essex County. Frank also coached numerous Raider wrestlers to medals at the state championships in Atlantic City and guided Nutley to the state sectional final in 2015. He also took the Raiders to the prestigious Beast of the East Tournament.
In addition to the team successes, DiPiano also garnered numerous Coach of the Year accolades, in both District 14 and Region 4. He also served as president of Region 4.
“It’s been a great run at Nutley,” said DiPiano. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids, parents and fans. We’ve had some tremendous success there, and I fully believe that the new coach will continue that. There’s a talented bunch of kids coming up this season.”
DiPiano, who grew up in Nutley and now lives in Belleville, will remain involved in wrestling. He should be a familiar face at District 14, Region 4 and the state tournament, not to mention the Gift of Life Duals that his father helped to create six years ago.
“I was surprised, but very happy for Frank,” said Passaic Valley head wrestling coach Joe Benvenuti, a good friend of DiPiano’s. “Frank has done such a great job as a head coach. We have enjoyed a tremendous rivalry with Nutley, because of Frank. He always cherished competing against tougher opponents, because he knew it would help his team get better when the post-season came around. And you can see how well those kids responded in the districts, regions and states. I wish Frank all the best, and I know we’ll see a lot of him.”
Having been around wrestling for the better part of 30 years, I can safely say that Frank DiPiano is one of the best coaches and teachers I’ve ever seen. When you watch a good friend move up in a professional career, one can only hope he, or she, will succeed.
And in this case, there is no doubt that Frank DiPiano and his beloved St. Benedict’s will enjoy a long and cherished relationship.