Mike D’Angelo is the new varsity girls basketball coach at West Hartford’s Conard High School.
By Ronni Newton
A former college coach has taken over the girls basketball program at West Hartford’s Conard High School, and he is very excited about coaching a team that is fresh off its best season in decades.
Mike D’Angelo was an assistant coach of the Trinity College women’s basketball team for 11 years. “I wanted to be a head coach but I wanted it to be the right job for me to leave college coaching,” he said.
The Conard job opened up after former coach Colleen Duggan was named assistant athletic director at Newington High School.
D’Angelo said that Conard was that right opportunity – a large school with an established basketball program and plenty of good competition – and he’s also happy that it will also afford him a bit more time to spend with his family.
Unlike many of Conard’s coaches, D’Angelo is not a teacher. He works as a project manager in Hartford for O&G Construction Management, a construction and architecture firm, and is currently involved with the restoration of Hartford City Hall. He and his wife live in Granby with their two children, a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. He said his wife has been “very patient” with his college coaching schedule that involved being away for days at a time during the season.
“She got the package deal. She was Trinity’s biggest supporter and now she’s Conard’s.”
After working with the Conard team for just the past few weeks, he’s already able to say, “I love these kids.” He’s also thrilled about the level of talent on the team.
Conard ended the 2015-16 with a record of 17-3, the best season in decades. They won a share of the CCC regular season title when they beat crosstown rival Hall – the first time in 30 years that the team won a league championship. The Chieftains won a first round game in the state LL tournament, but lost to Glastonbury in the second round. After the season ended, they won the Central Connecticut Board 6 Basketball Officials Sportsmanship Award – an honor bestowed by the league’s referees.
“Hopefully we will have another year like that,” D’Angelo said, although he knows that a large group of talented seniors graduated.
This year’s captains are seniors Liz Ladd and Tatiana St. Juste. The two captains, and veteran juniors Delaney Connors and Lena Proietti, will be the core of the team, playing a lot of minutes, D’Angelo said.
“We have a very young group, and I’m going to rely very heavily on them.”
A record number of 42 girls came out for the program this year, D’Angelo said. A full roster will play JV under the direction of Alyssa Barrett who took over when Tom Verrengia retired. The freshman team is coached by Ed Litos.
The season begins on Monday, with an away game against New Britain. Looking ahead, D’Angelo said some of the most challenging opponents will likely be Southington, Glastonbury, Simsbury, and of course Hall.
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