TOWNSEND -- Erik Dellasanta announced last week that he is stepping down as the North Middlesex Regional boys' basketball head coach. The news broke Wednesday afternoon after Dellasanta notified his team that the timing was right.
Dellasanta is a graduate of St. Bernard's Catholic High School in Fitchburg, and a recent inductee into the Bernardian's Athletic Hall-of-Fame.
"The decision was not an easy one," Dellasanta said. "Talking to the boys was a little challenging -- those are the guys you do it for. The hardest part about it is that I still love my players, my school and where the program is at. I still bleed red, white and blue -- none of that has really changed. I have two young kids at home who are starting to get into their activities, and I would like to be a part of it. As much as I love basketball, my kids are always first place."
Dellasanta has a coaching resume that spans 20 years from his time as the Varnum Brook Middle School head coach, an assistant at Murdock High School and his most recent job at North Middlesex Regional. Dellasanta has been on the Patriots' bench for seven seasons as the JV coach and nine as the program's head coach.
"I have been in the North Middlesex School District coaching for 18 years with some middle school stuff," he said. "To be honest, I haven't really looked back much. I have had a great run and have loved every minute of it. I just felt like it was the right time to be there wholeheartedly for my kids all of the time."
Dellasanta approached NMRHS athletic director James Bunnell Tuesday afternoon and delivered the news that he would not be returning.
"Talking to James was easier than telling the kids, but it was still hard," he said. "James has come in with a vigor for athletics at North Middlesex. He has been amazingly supportive towards me. It was hard because I really respect him and certainly enjoyed working for him."
Dellasanta led the North Middlesex Patriots to this year's Western Mass. semifinals as a No. 4 seed where it fell to Longmeadow at the Curry Hicks Cage on the campus of UMass Amherst.
Dellasanta is an avid triathlon runner, but one thing is for certain, it will take a lot to keep him out of the gym. North Middlesex basketball will always hold a special place in his heart. Dellasanta says that his wife, Gail, has been incredibly supportive of him over the last two decades he has been coaching.
"The truth is I am going to be around games," he said. "I'm not dead yet. I will spend my time coaching my son, Vinny, who is going to be eight and my daughter, Lyla, who is turning six.
I will have a little more time to do some things at home and go see my nieces and nephews play basketball in Framingham and Westminster. There is no way I am getting away from the game."