By Seth Daniel
It was over milk and cookies in the president’s office last Monday, Jan. 15, that the workings of a potentially new DiBiaso coaching dynasty began to form on the West Roxbury campus of Catholic Memorial High School (CM).
By last Thursday, the smallest Division 1 high-school sports program in the state pulled one of the greatest moves in the program’s history in hiring former Everett High Coach and Athletic Director John DiBiaso to be its new football coach.
“This is my final destination in my career in coaching,” DiBiaso said from the podium at the CM gym last Thursday. “I’ve fallen in love with this school in just a short period of time. The former players I know who went to school here spoke in glowing terms about it…Everything they said was positive. That really attracted me…I just felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
DiBiaso announced his retirement as the Everett High football and basketball coach in December shortly after winning his 12th Super Bowl for Everett High – a winning stretch that went back to the 1990s. No one in Everett expected him to take another position, especially at a Division 1 high school outside of his hometown.
Most in the City said they were surprised by the decision, and some of the Everett High players are already asking school officials if they can quickly schedule a game with CM so they can play their former coach next year.
That said, DiBiaso indicated it was something that came along quickly after he retired from Everett.
“I always planned on coaching well into my 80s, and when this opportunity presented itself, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get started again right away. But I was very impressed with the situation and we hit it off so well here.
“Actually, if I’m going to be honest with you it was Monday of this week (Jan. 15) we sat down for cookies and milk and talked, (Athletic Director) Craig (Najarian) and I, and that’s when we kind of ironed it out,” he continued. “I’m not going to lie to you. I have had other opportunities and other things going on. I felt very comfortable here with the people, community and the area. It was love at first sight.”
But DiBiaso was quick to say it wasn’t a situation where he was no longer in love with his hometown of Everett. He said he had become stale as a coach there and needed to step away personally. He had planned to coach, he said, but didn’t think it would be so soon after his retirement from Everett.
“Personally and professionally, I felt that I was becoming a little stale and I needed a change,” he said. “It was not Everett by any means. It wasn’t anything that Everett did. It was something that I just felt John DiBiaso needed for himself. I have great kids in Everett, and great memories and have lived there all my life – 39 years in one building. Mr. Foresteire is the best superintendent in the state. I’ve worked under great principals and had excellent assistant coaches and wonderful players. I just felt that personally I needed a change.”
For CM, their program was in a pinch last year after having lost their coach and then having not been able to find the coach they wanted during their initial search, Najarian said.
They brought in interim coach Brent Williams, who hired DiBiaso’s son Jonathan DiBiaso to help out, and he finished out the season. Najarian said they began the coaching search once again after the season was over – contacting coaches who had previously shown interest and also reaching out to DiBiaso when they heard of his retirement.
“We are dedicated to bringing the best professionals to campus,” said President Peter Folan. “He is arguably the best coach in New England and an all-time great. It’s also the dedication to character and dedication to the kids that is great. His success in college placement is unparalleled.”
Two major things attracted DiBiaso to continue his career, he said, so shortly after leaving Everett. First, he enjoyed the small school atmosphere at CM, and he was impressed that the school will not try to move down divisions – even though the enrollment is on par with a Division 4 or 5 school rather than a Division 1 school.
Folan said they have an enrollment of around 500 kids, and they compete with much larger schools like Brockton, Xaverian and others.
“Having coached at Everett, it was a community – a small town playing against the bigger cities,” DiBiaso said. “Everybody knew each other and everybody cared for each other. I had a very similar situation (when I coached) at St. Pat’s and at Weston. They were all smaller schools and were playing against the bigger schools. One of the big attractions is I really relish being the smallest school in Division 1…I like to go in a school – and loved it at Everett – where I knew almost every kid. Everett grew to be 2,000 kids, so that began to be impossible, but when I first started teaching there were only 1,200 kids in the school, and I knew almost every one. That’s my goal here, to get to know everyone in the school…I like that type of atmosphere.”
DiBiaso said he is excited to get started, and promised to give 110-percent effort to bring home a championship banner to CM. He said he is just learning the team, and will have an idea of what will work by September.
Meanwhile, he said he’s got a lot of good years to invest in the program and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.
“I hope to coach until I’m 80 and I’m only 61, so there’s 19 years,” he said. “Is 19 years a long time? Maybe if I keep taking my vitamins I’ll coach until I’m 90.”
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