Scarlata calling it a career at NFA

Bill Scarlata has been as humorously quotable as he’s been successful as head coach of the Norwich Free Academy girls’ basketball teams.

Scarlata was quick with a one-liner when he confirmed Friday night that he’d be stepping down after the end of this season.

“I’ve been doing this (coaching) for 40 years, and it seemed like a nice round number,” he quipped when asked why he’s retiring.

“It’s time to go.”

The Wildcats have finished Eastern Connecticut Conference play and await their seeding for the CIAC Class LL tournament, which will be announced next week.

NFA and Scarlata have had an incredible run together. Scarlata has a 576-112 career record over 27 seasons with the Wildcats winning 18 conference titles and seven CIAC state championships. Only Hillhouse and Westbrook have more CIAC titles (nine).

Scarlata took over the program in 1993 at the urging of Gary Makowicki, then the Wildcats’ athletic director.

"When I told him about the job and that he should take it," Makowicki told The Day in 2010. "He said, 'I don't know anything about basketball. I'm a hockey guy.'"

It took Scarlata little time to become a basketball guy. The Wildcats finished 27-0 and won the CIAC LL title in back-to-back seasons (1996-97). They’ve had four unbeaten seasons under Scarlata, made it to nine CIAC finals, and never had a losing season under him.

“When you do something for 40 years, you’ll end up missing it a lot,” Scarlata said. “But you know when it’s time.

“I’ve met a lot of nice kids and had a lot of greate assistants help me along the way. I’ve seen a lot of these kids grow up. Now they’re doctors and lawyers and coaches, so that’s nice to see.”

Scarlata retired from teaching math at NFA in 2010. Asked what he was going to do with all his free time, he laughed, “play some golf and get away from lousy weather we have in the winter.”

n.griffen@theday.com

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