SCHENECTADY — In the years when his friends and former teammates entered into the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame, Paul Bricoccoli often made the trip from Glens Falls to support them at their inductions.
It's his turn this year — and that he is getting a turn is humbling for Bricoccoli, a multisport Linton High School star who later coached football for decades at Glens Falls High School.
Listing the names of past inductees, the 74-year-old Bricoccoli said his initial reaction to his selection was one of surprise.
“And now they’re going to add ‘Paul Bricoccoli’ to that list?” he said. “So that’s a big honor.”
And a well-deserved one.
The only one likely surprised by Bricoccoli’s selection is, well, Bricoccoli. His resume — which will be honored as part of Monday’s induction ceremony at Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia — speaks for itself.
At Linton, the 1962 graduate played football, basketball and baseball. In particular, he starred on the gridiron and diamond.
In 1960 and 1961, Bricoccoli quarterbacked Linton’s football team to 7-1 marks each season. He was an all-county quarterback each of those years, and guided Linton to the Class A League championship in 1961 before playing in college — and starting for three seasons — at the University of Rhode Island.
“As soon as I saw him on the JV, I knew he was going to be our quarterback,” said Dick Lalla, Bricoccoli’s coach at Linton. “He had all the attributes. He was coachable, and that’s the one thing you need to have as a quarterback — plus he could throw the football.”
On the baseball field, Bricoccoli played three varsity seasons at Linton. As a senior, he was an all-county pitcher.
Not long after college, Bricoccoli started his tenure as football coach at Glens Falls High School. While he also had stints coaching other sports for the school, Bricoccoli led Glens Falls’ football program from 1973 to 1999. During that time, he amassed a 149-80-3 record, won eight league championships, three sectional titles and a state regional championship.
Four times, he was honored as coach of the year. Bricoccoli is also a member of the Glens Falls High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Capital Region Football Hall of Fame.
Now, he is retired and still lives in Glens Falls. After he left his varsity football coaching post, Bricoccoli helped coach the program’s modified team for a number of years.
“Up here in Glens Falls, that’s basically been my [adult] life,” Bricoccoli said. “Thinking about Schenectady, I think a lot and reminisce. It’s out of sight and out of mind sometimes, but when I go back for the hall of fame dinners, that always brings back memories of how much fun I had in high school. That was one of the best times of my life.”
Besides the obvious — all the success and the pure fun of playing — Bricoccoli said he feels that way because his time at Linton helped propel him toward his own future in coaching. The way coaches such as Lalla or baseball coach Dom Denio treated him, Bricoccoli said, made him want to do the same for others.
That Bricoccoli ended up a successful coach, Lalla said, wasn’t much of a surprise.
“I’m so proud of Paul, and many of the other kids, too, that played for me because they went on to make good successes of their lives,” Lalla said. “That’s the biggest thing you look back on with your players.”
One minor regret for Bricoccoli is that he didn’t get a chance to coach in Schenectady. While he doesn’t regret spending so many years in Glens Falls — and he still attends the football team’s games — he did sometimes wonder how he would have fared in his hometown.
“So I always thought about going back down there, but the opportunity never really came,” Bricoccoli said. “I would have liked to try coaching at Schenectady. That is something I always thought about.”
But the idea that Paul Bricoccoli would be a Schenectady hall of famer? That's one he never thought up.
“I never thought I was going to make it,” Bricoccoli said. “I’m just very gratified and humbled.”