On April 26, Branford Board of Education (BOE) joined the chorus of community recognition and appreciation for Branford High School (BHS) boys' basketball coach John "Jake" Palluzzi, who retired at the end of 2016-2017 season. Palluzzi completed a 29-year BHS basketball coaching career, leading the Hornets to 302 wins.
As a player, the Branford resident and former BHS All State Captain led his team to a 20-0 season (1978) Housatonic Championship. Palluzzi went on to become a four-year starter and two-year captain for Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), setting a school record with 105 starts. Palluzzi led the Owls to the team's first bid in the NCAA Sweet 16 (Division II). In 1982, Palluzzi earned the Bob Cousy Award as best over-all player 6'0" and under in Division I, II, and III in New England.
Palluzzi was an assistant coach with SCSU when he was hired in 1987 as the head coach of North Branford boys' basketball, where he coached four years. The team went 18-5 in Palluzzi's final season coaching the Thunderbirds, a win-loss stat which still stands as a school record. His team went on to win the Shoreline Conference and Palluzzi was named Shoreline Conference Coach of the Year and New Haven Register All Area Coach of the Year.
As BHS head coach from 1988-2017, Palluzzi has a career total of 302 wins and 293 losses with the Hornets. The Hornets took the Housatonic League title in 1991-92 (15-8). His 2004-05 team (14-8) won the Oronoque Division Championship.
On April 26, BOE chairman Michael Krause shared many coaching accomplishments seen by Palluzzi, a Branford Sports Hall of Fame inductee (2007). Krause also took a moment to recognize Palluzzi's parents and 2015 Branford Sports Hall of Fame co-inductees Alex Palluzzi, Sr., and Jeanette Palluzzi; thanking them for sharing in their son's passion for sports. Krause also thanked Palluzzi's brother, Alex Palluzzi Jr., for compiling the statistics shared with the BOE that night.
Palluzzi thanked the BOE, his parents, his wife, Marci and their three children, Emma, Tess and Jake Jr. for their support. Despite the accumulated records and awards earned on the court through the years, Palluzzi said it's always been about "the next game" for him.
"It was either I played or I coached...it's a passion of mine," said Palluzzi. "When I was afforded the opportunity to do this, they said, '...follow your heart, follow your passion,' and that's what it was."
Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez thanked Palluzzi for his years of leadership to his players.
"I want the thank you on behalf of all the young men that you have coached that are not able to be here today," said Hernandez. "Your reach is long, and it will surely have an impact for years and years to come. You're much more than a coach to young men."
A retirement dinner honoring Branford High School Boys Basketball Coach Jake Palluzzi will be held on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 at Woodwinds Restaurant, 28 Schoolground Road in Branford. Tickets are $40.00 (checks can be made payable to the Branford Boys Basketball Fund) and can be purchased at the Branford Recreation Department, Branford High School or by calling (203) 488-7571.