By Joel Alderman
The sudden resignation of the Greenwich High School football coach, Rich Albonizio, has caused a groundswell of shock and support from fellow coaches and ex-players.
The coach at Pomperaug in Southbury, James Reed tweeted, “If Rich Albonizio felt forced out, what hope the rest of us have? Hope he finds success somewhere else.”
“His heart is broken”
Donny Panapada played for Albonizio at Trinity Catholic in Stamford. Later he was his assistant coach at that school for three years and six more at Greenwich. He is now back at Trinity Catholic, where he became head coach and for the season just passed he was named the Hearst Connecticut Media “coach of the year.”
His reaction, as written in the Greenwich Time, is that “If I had a son, I’d want him to play for Rich Albonizio. Rich always had the kids’ best interest in mind. It’s a shame what happened to him. For as much as he has given to that community, it’s not right.”
He added “I hope nobody ever has to go through what he has gone through. His heart is broken.”
“A special man”
Mark Bisanzo, who has owned and operated a popular sports shop in town for over 40 years (Bruce Park Sports), played on Greenwich teams coached by Albonizio for three years. He told the Greenwich paper that the life lessons he took with him after football were far more important than anything he learned about the game itself.
“He helped make me a leader, which I brought with me to my business,” Bisanzo said. “He was a special man who made sure everything was done correctly. If you were a star player and broke a rule, you didn’t play. If someone was a captain and did something bad, he wouldn’t play. He always lived up to what he would say.”
Albonizio feels he was “walking a tightrope at Greenwich”
Each day since this happened, Albonizio reveals more of his feelings. In Sunday’s Greenwich Time, he says, “The problem is if you don’t win enough, it is hard to profess your philosophy. Through 18 years, I thought I had a good rapport with the players and the parents, but we had not won a state title in a few years and that is what people want. You are walking a tightrope at Greenwich because if you get an injury or two and lose a couple (of) games, the season is considered a failure.”