Gloucester High School has a new softball coach that is looking to turn the program around, and he is a familiar face on the local athletic scene. John Nicastro Jr., known to many as John-John Nicastro, was officially hired last week to replace Julie Ferguson, who coached from 2007-2011. Gloucester athletic director Kim Patience said Ferguson's contract was not renewed after last season.
"John had all the qualities we were looking for in a coach," Patience said. "We know he is a truly passionate and dedicated person and he is committed to building the caliber of the team."
Nicastro, 38, is Student Supervisor at Gloucester High School as well as the owner of Nicastro's Driving School. He also is the President of the JJ Nicastro Foundation, a nonprofit group that has raised money to pay the user fees for select Gloucester High School student athletes in the name of Nicastro's late son JJ.
Nicastro, who has named Barrett Rounds his junior varsity coach, is taking over a struggling program that has averaged just five wins per season over the last five years while qualifying for the state tournament just once in 2008. The newly minted head coach says he is looking to turn the program around with discipline and team chemistry.
"I'm a very disciplined person and that's going to be one of the major components of the team," Nicastro said. "You have to give 100 percent all the time, 99 percent won't cut it. I'm (also) huge on team chemistry and once you start to understand the importance of that winning will come. The team didn't win much over the last few years and that can't be put on a single person, it was a mixture of everything, we are going to put some changes in place and we are looking to turn the program around."
While he has no varsity coaching experience, Nicastro is no stranger to the world of coaching. He managed Hamden-Hill, the highly successful men's softball team, got the itch to coach softball this summer helping out with clinics in Gloucester and helping coach a U-18 AAU team this summer, he also has youth coaching experience.
"Last year I didn't play softball for the first time in 20 years and I was surprised to realize that the coaching is what I missed the most, I didn't even care that much about not playing I missed the strategy behind coaching most" Nicastro said. "I got the itch to coach this summer helping out at clinics and AAU softball."
"I'm excited for the season to start, I'm a Gloucester guy and I love Gloucester athletics," he added. "I can feel the energy now and hopefully it carries over to the season. Softball is such a fun sport and I'm excited to see what the team can do. It's going to take contributions from everybody to turn the program around, from the bat girl to the players to the coach everybody it is going to be a full team effort."