Schools Sports

West Hartford Coach Tapped to Coach McDonald’s All-American Team

Northwest Catholic High School basketball coach John Mirabello will coach the 'East' team in the McDonald's All-American game. Photo courtesy of Northwest Catholic

Northwest Catholic’s John Mirabello was chosen as one of the coaches for the McDonald’s All-American Boys Basketball Team.

Northwest Catholic High School boys basketball coach John Mirabello, pictured standing on the court in the West Hartford gym that bears his name, has been named coach of the McDonald’s All-American Boys East Team. Photo courtesy of Northwest Catholic

By Ronni Newton

McDonald’s is known for its Big Macs, but for those who are fans of college basketball, the McDonald’s name is also synonymous with the annual event that showcases the top high school basketball talent from across the country.

This year, a West Hartford coach will be behind the bench, coaching the boys from the East team as they compete in the 41st annual McDonald’s All-American game on March 28 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. The game begins at 7 p.m. and will air live on ESPN. It can also be viewed on the WatchESPN website.

“It was completely news to me, out of nowhere,” said Northwest Catholic boys basketball coach John Mirabello in a phone interview on Thursday.

Mirabello, who is also a social studies teacher, is in his 31st year of coaching at NWC. He said when he had a voicemail from someone with the McDonald’s All-American organization, he assumed it was regarding whether or not he had any potential players this year. Although he has never had a team member make the cut, he has referred many of them and said that between 1,500 and 2,000 kids are considered for the all-star team each year.

Mirabello was prepared to talk about his kids.

Instead, when he returned the call, he said he was told: “Your name has come up as a potential coach for the game.”

Mirabello said he was rendered speechless, and then responded that of course, that would be great.

“It’s been a whirlwind since then,” Mirabello said.

He submitted his resume and bio, and on Jan. 4 was notified that he would be coaching the East Team, a roster of 12 All-Americans who will soon be joining the ranks of top Division I programs. The country’s top prospect and a member of the East Team, Florida’s R.J. Barrett, will be attending Duke University. Other team members will be attending the University of North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon, Maryland, and Vanderbilt next year.

Mirabello was told to keep the news a secret until McDonald’s finalized the 12-person rosters, which happened on Tuesday.

His team won’t really need much help, Mirabello said. “I think I’ll be getting out of their way,” he joked.

He doesn’t personally know any of the team members yet, but he knows of them. Many already have incredible highlight films, he said.

Mirabello will arrive in Atlanta on Sunday, March 25, and will have several days to prepare for the Wednesday, March 28 game. “It will be a fun experience,” said.

Brad Lauwers of A.J. Diamond High School in Anchorage, AK, will coach the Boys West Team. There is also a Girls Game, and Dawn Seiler of Aberdeen Central High School in Aberdeen, SD, will lead the Girls East Team, while Jeannie Hebert-Truax of Wasilla High School in Wasilla, AK, will coach the Girls West Team. There are 12 players on each team.

“It’s really an event for the kids to showcase themselves,” Mirabello said.

“The 48 players selected for the 2018 McDonald’s All American Games represent the future of basketball,” Morgan Wootten, Hall-of-Fame basketball coach and McDonald’s All American Games Selection Committee Chairman said in a news release. “As we leave a great legacy in Chicago, we look forward to hosting the Games in Atlanta and providing the players with the opportunity to show the entire country their tremendous talent.”

Click here for the complete rosters.

While none of the Northwest Catholic basketball players have yet been named a McDonald’s All-American team member, Mirabello said that his alumni have had success and some are still playing overseas.

“They might not be ‘All-Americans,’ but they’re all-American kids,” Mirabello said.

“The best part is I have my team now,” he said, a team that includes his son, Luca. On Thursday afternoon that’s where his focus was, getting the Lions ready for a game Friday night against Southington.

The rest of the Northwest Catholic community, however, was buzzing after hearing the news. In a statement, Athletic Director Matthew Martorelli said, “For the past 30 years Coach Mirabello has dedicated his time and energy to develop in his players’ character, ethics, and morals, both on and off the court. As humble as they come, John lets his hard work speak in the efforts of his players.”

Martorelli is planning celebrations to honor Mirabello, both in Atlanta and in West Hartford.  

In a letter to faculty and staff at NWC, President and Head of School Christian Cashman wrote, “John’s selection simply underscores the many ways in which he is a national example of what any Catholic high school in America would hope to find in their head coaches.” He said that Mirabello not only is a skillful coach, but should be admired for the way he “forms and educates the whole person, mind, body, and spirit.”

Proceeds from the annual games go to local Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and their Ronald McDonald House programs. 

Mirabello is excited, and said he still hasn’t figured out how his name came to the attention of the selection committee. “People have been doing some research, but if there was somebody [responsible], I want to say thank you.”

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

Northwest Catholic High School boys basketball coach John Mirabello has been named coach of the McDonald’s All-American Boys East Team. Photo courtesy of Northwest Catholic

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author


We-Ha.com is the place to go for the latest information about West Hartford – a town that "has it all"! We-Ha.com is part of and proud of our community, and we bring a hyperlocal focus to news and features about the people, schools, businesses, real estate, sports, restaurants, charitable events, arts, and more. Contact us at: [email protected] or [email protected].

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Translate »