Legendary Connecticut Coach Stays Put for 36 Years

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

In 36 years as the New Canaan (Conn.) head coach, Lou Marinelli has led his team to 12 state championships, including the last four. He shares five factors for a coach to consider in planning his career.

The coaching staff

The majority of the New Canaan coaching staff consists of Marinelli’s former players. Collaboration within a coaching staff can make a head coach’s job more enjoyable.

“How often do you get to see the seeds you’ve sewn come to fruition?” Marinelli said. “It’s cool to see kids I helped get through those crazy teenage years come back.”

The administration

A coach should be eternally grateful when he works at a school in which the administrators are supportive of athletics. That can certainly help for budgeting purposes – in terms of improvements to the facilities and coaching salaries. Support from administrators also helps when a coach has a conflict with a player or parent, and the situation escalates.


Marinelli has never made his annual salary a priority throughout his career, and that has allowed him to remain content in the same position for 36 years.

“Anybody coaching at the high school level can’t be looking at it from a financial perspective,” Marinelli said. “I took a pay cut when I came here 36 years ago. I’ve never really thought about the finances.”

The coach’s impact

Marinelli coached at the college level early in his career, and while that experience was exciting for him, he felt more suited to coach high-schoolers.

“As a college coach, I never really felt I had the impact I do at the high school level,” Marinelli said. “Everyone wants to compete at the highest level, but you have to play to your strengths.”

The players

Marinelli has had opportunities to move on from New Canaan, but he questioned whether he’d find the quality of people he has coached in New Canaan.

“A lot of the guys I’ve coached have become policemen and firemen in town,” Marinelli said. “The idea that I’m starting to coach sons of players I had 25 and 30 years ago is special.”

Do you have a thought about this article that you would like to share? If you do, email managing editor Dan Guttenplan at dguttenplan@ae-engine.com. Tweet us @fnfcoaches.