Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Famous NJ Girls Basketball Coach Dies, Wife Takes the Reigns

"This is one of those stories you just can't make up. I think I found my new favorite team."

By Patrick Villanova / @pvilla_nova

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The tributes are all over Marist High School.

His name is painted on the court inside the school's cavernous gymnasium. In a small office in the gym's rear, an assortment of photos sits on a shelf above the current coach's desk, while a basketball decorated in honor of the former coach sits nearby.

One year after longtime Marist girls basketball coach Bill De Fazio died of pancreatic cancer, his legacy lives on inside the gym and now, with the school's new coach.

When Marist hosts Kearny Friday at 7 p.m., Alice De Fazio will make her coaching debut for the program that her husband guided from 1990 to 2009 and led to a state championship in 2001.

"I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and things have a way to kind of fall into place," said De Fazio, who has served as New Jersey City University's athletic director since 2007. "Short of divine intervention, that's kind of what's happening to me right now."

While De Fazio, 54, will continue her role at NJCU, the unique opportunity to coach her husband's former team was one she could not pass up.

"The school asked me on a couple of occasions to come back. At first I thought they were kidding," said De Fazio, who spent 22 years married to Bill. "Then I started putting the wheels in motion and said how special that would be and how humbled I was that they'd even consider me."

Full story from

Alice De Fazio directs girls basketball practice at Marist High School in Bayonne. De Fazio has taken over as coach, one year after her husband and former coach Bill died of pancreatic cancer. (Lauren Casselberry/

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For more stories and thoughts by Patrick Villanova,, visit, or check out his personal blog, I'd Rather Be Playing

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