Ten Minutes with Nick Giaquinto
Super Bowl Player Turned College Coach
Photo by Stan Godlewski
Nick Giaquinto reached the heights in one sport as a player (pro football) and in another as a coach (collegiate baseball). After 29 seasons at Sacred Heart University, he is retiring to Virginia, where he will be reunited with wife Barbara, a faculty member at Old Dominion University. He plans to stay involved by coaching a collegiate summer team and giving lessons at a batting cage,“for starters.”
What are the defining moments of your coaching career at Sacred Heart?
Making it to the NCAA Division II national championship in 1992 and getting to the NCAA regional tournament seven times rank up there as the highlights. I think our exceptional graduation rate also represents what our program stands for.
What pleases you most about your four NFL seasons and back-to-back Super Bowl appearances with the Washington Redskins?
There were many great memories from my four years in the NFL. After getting cut three years and having Don Shula tell me that I’d made the Dolphins was a dream come true, and walking off the field after winning the 1983 Super Bowl were two experiences that I will always remember.
As an athlete, you achieved your greatest success on the football field—two-time All-State selection at Stratford High, a star running back in college, and a reliable all-purpose back in the pros. So why not pursue a coaching career in that sport?
I always thought I’d coach football until my final year in the NFL. In high school, I coached my brother Mike in Pop Warner football, Little League, and Pony League baseball. The years I was getting cut from the NFL, I coached high-school football for a year and college football for a year. When I retired, I decided to go in another direction, thinking that a baseball coach would have more balance in his life than the crazy football coaches sleeping in their office.
Compare your 1992 team, which won the NCAA northeast regional and competed in the D II college World Series, with your more recent D-I squads—four in all—that captured northeast conference titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Very similar in the sense we had solid pitching and were very good defensively. All of our championship teams fought through the struggles that they encountered individually and as a team. It takes talent and commitment to win a championship and all of these teams made that commitment.
You led UConn in rushing for two seasons and even returned a kickoff one hundred yards. Your thoughts about the UConn single-game rushing record you still hold: 277 yards against Holy Cross.
UConn has been playing football since 1896 and to have the highest single-game rushing record in school history is pretty cool. I wish we’d won the game.
Who among your former players has achieved the most success in pro ball?
Right now, Troy Scribner is pitching with the Salt Lake Bees AAA team in the Angels organization and so far that’s the highest we’ve had a player reach.