The resume is impressive.
So is the number of people Vince Bucciarelli has touched during his 32-year stint as the head coach of the Abington Heights girls basketball program.
“It’s been a great career,” said Bucciarelli, who will not be returning to the sidelines for the Lady Comets. “I’ve coached girls whose mothers I also coached. That’s a neat experience.”
His departure from Abington Heights marks the end of a long coaching tenure, one of the rare coaches who has been able to stay in one job for a long period of time.
“Nowadays, coaches go 10 years and that’s a lot,” he said. “Guys like Ross Macciocco, Jack Lyons, Ken Bianchi — you don’t see that type of coach anymore.”
Although he plans to retire from teaching at Abington Heights, Bucciarelli isn’t ready to give up his hopes of hooking on to coach at another school.
The number 592 stands out on Bucciarelli’s resume, referring to his career varsity win total that ranks him second behind Macciocco among those who have coached in the current Lackawanna League area. Winning nearly seven of every 10 games says a lot about a coach, that he has gotten a lot from the athletes he’s been in charge of and that he has the ability to adjust to a multitude of situations. Depending on his personnel, Bucciarelli was able to coach fast-paced teams who want to get the ball up and down the court, or go with a deliberate, half-court offense that was patient enough to wait for a good shot.
But beyond strategy and on-the-court success, Bucciarelli felt the relationships he was able to build upon had a lot to do with getting his players to believe in his ways.
“I tried to be fair to all the girls, try to treat everybody equally,” he said.
That has been consistent since he first began as the Lady Comets’ head coach in the 1982-83 school year. Among the many changes he has seen over his tenure as coach has been the skill level of the
“The girls are a lot better and more girls are coming out for teams now,” he said. “There are a lot more opportunities for scholarships to move to the next level, to have the opportunity to get scholarships like the guys do.”
He knows a little bit about getting kids to play at the next level, having coached five Division I athletes over his long career. One of those players, Amber Jacobs, who went on to Boston College and later became a player in the WNBA, was part of one of the memorable nights in Bucciarelli’s career.
”Amber got her 2,000th point and Maureen Myers scored her 1,000th on the same night,” he said. “That might have been one of the neatest things to happen.”
There are countless other memories Bucciarelli will cherish from his time on the sidelines for the Lady Comets.
“I remember beating Hazleton Area when we were down 17 with seven minutes to play,” he said. “I have a lot of good memories. It’s been really enjoyable to have had the opportunity to coach at Abington Heights.”
Many of those memories that he recounted and remembered with pride had nothing to do with winning or losing, or even about basketball.
“We did the Feed-A-Family and Adopt-an-Angel programs for 20 years,” Bucciarelli said. “The Selena Waters Night brought awareness about Down Syndrome in the community. I showed the girls there’s much more to life than wins and losses.”
Add in the Pink Night games with Scranton Prep that brought more awareness about breast cancer and Bucciarelli can say he did his fair share in off-the-court issues in the community.
On the court, his Lady Comets teams won 12 Lackawanna League division titles and 14 District 2 championships.
“I’ve always worked hard, to teach the girls,” he said. “Not only about basketball, but also about life.”