Remembering the Late Steve DiGregorio
On October 12, 2021, Nutley lost its winningest high school football coach of all time, Coach Steve DiGregorio. While many saw his impact strictly on the gridiron, DiGregorio was more than just a football coach, as he taught history at NHS and touched the heart of everyone whom he came across.
One person who was directly impacted by his loss is current NHS football head coach Coach Jarrett Vick. Vick was able to work with DiGregorio directly for several years before his retirement after the 2020 season. In an interview with Coach Vick, he was able to give us some insight into the way DiGregorio affected not only his life but the lives of everyone he encountered.
DiGregorio’s passing affected a huge portion of Nutley. Students enjoyed his presence at all times, players were always open to whatever insight he had to give them, and most importantly, he set the bar for all future coaches at NHS. A memorial was held in his honor on November 14th, where everyone was welcomed to commemorate the late Steve DiGregorio. All the emotions surrounding these events and the day he passed were intense for everyone. Vick explains his experience saying “Even though we knew that day was coming, it was still difficult news to hear, it was a very sad day.”
No one was able to take this news lightly, as he was an icon in Nutley. Even if you didn’t know him personally, people mourned for those who were deeply affected by his loss. At his funeral service and the memorial that was held, everyone put their issues and differences aside to say their final goodbyes to what many consider one of the biggest figures in all of Nutley history. Vick goes on to state, “Coach D. was a big part of our community, so he is missed throughout our town.”
Not only was DiGregorio an amazing man in the eyes of many, but he was a great football mind according to those who coached with him. After being questioned on DiGregorio’s everlasting impact on Nutley High School football, Vick explains, “Coach D was a great football coach, he had great knowledge of the game. He was someone you could come to and ask questions, he was always willing to help. In my eyes, he was a legend.”
As Vick takes over the job of head coach for this football team, he was able to learn behind a “legend” and soak in everything he possibly could from him while behind an assistant coach during DiGregorio’s time as head coach. With huge shoes to fill, DiGregorio left everything he knew behind as he never failed to give as much advice as he could wherever it was needed.
When asked how DiGregorio’s passing affected him, he replied, “For me personally, one thing that I miss is being able to pick up the phone and call him, he had such knowledge and wisdom, up until he got really sick we talked several times a week, I would ask him coaching questions and wisdom on how to deal with certain situations. It’s been tough for our coaches because most of us have known him and worked with him for many years.”
Prior to his explanation of DiGregorio’s impact, he was questioned on what he could take away from DiGregorio. He was quick to respond saying, “Obviously I learned a lot about football but also just watching him deal with people and situations I was able to learn from. He did things the right way. He was not only a good coach but he was a great man.”
DiGregorio will live forever in the eyes of Nutley citizens and is irreplaceable for what he has done in his years as a coach and history teacher at NHS. However, to carry on DiGregorio’s legacy, Vick has an idea of what he can do. “Just doing things the right way and using the way he did things as an example.”
Vick then goes on to talk about all the small things DiGregorio left behind for him and how he can implement that into his everyday life and more importantly, on the gridiron. All whale explaining everything, he brings the players into the equation and speaks on how a huge loss for such young high schoolers can take a huge toll on them. Meanwhile, Vick feels as if they adapted well and overcame adversity to the best of their ability as he says, “Our team has responded well, it was mainly our juniors and seniors who had a direct relationship with him, but I’m proud of the way our team has dealt with the whole situation.”
Following DiGregorio’s death, Nutley went on the road to Barringer and beat them 42-3. A statement game following a heartbreaking loss for the entire football team. The passing of DiGregorio has forced everyone to step up to carry on what he has left behind. Whether it was as a coach, teacher, or just a man in general, DiGregorio found success and is a role model no matter how anyone looks at him. Although he isn’t here today, he will be a part of Nutley’s history forever and no one will forget what he did for this town.