Londonderry girls basketball coach Fagula earns 600th win
John Fagula, head coach for Londonderry, gives advice to his players at Nashua North during a Jan. 25th game. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
"I've been around for 31 years so I guess longevity has something to do with it, but honestly it doesn't feel like 31 years," said Fagula following Londonderry's 77-24 Division I win against Timberlane in Plaistow. Casey Evans scored 19 points to lead the way for the Lancers, 13-4 in Division I.
It's funny to note Fagula's first love was really baseball and he tried to break into the head coaching ranks in Nashua.
"I ended up being the assistant (baseball) coach under (the late) Charlie Mellen for 15 years and I was probably was the oldest serving assistant coach at the time," said Fagula. "When I realized Charlie wasn't going anywhere, I drifted over to girls' basketball and never looked back."
Fagula led Nashua to 11 NHIAA state championship seasons in 20 years and, after taking off four seasons, has spent the last 11 seasons in Londonderry.
In 1986 USA Today selected his 1986 team as the No. 1 girls' basketball high school team in the nation.
"That season we only attempted one three-point shot the whole season," said Fagula with a laugh. "Today that's not the case. Girls today are looking for that shot and that's OK, too."?Fagula said winning 600 games means a coach has to average close to 20 wins a season.
"My first team in Nashua was 4-16," he said. "I'm happy to say when I was at Nashua, we always looked to schedule games against national powers around the Christmas holiday or during weeks when we had some open dates. I truly believe to this day that playing solid teams benefitted our girls and allowed some of them to play at good schools on the college level.
"The 600 wins for the most part, I can say, were not against cupcake teams. That's something I'm proud about, that we earned them against good teams for the most part."
Fagula says he won't be on the sideline to attain his 700th win.
"That's would be about five or six more seasons and I don't anticipate I'll be around that much longer," he said. "I'll finish this season, look to come back next season and see what lies ahead after that. But I'm still enjoying it and I enjoy teaching the girls. They have all been wonderful."
Fagula joked that time has a way of telling you when to leave.
"It doesn't feel like 31 years, it really doesn't," sais Fagula. "But around Christmas time when I'm getting cards from people I coached in the 70's and 80's who already have kids in high school or beyond, that's when I start to realize I've been around for a long time."
Fagula also found time to coach varsity football at Nashua in 1989 after the late Ken Parady stepped down from his post.
"We won some games that year," laughed Fagula. "But it was a long year coaching football and girls' basketball back-to-back. I enjoyed it, but I would have never lasted 31 years doing both back-to-back."
Fagula started coaching the Nashua girls when he was 30 years old. "That's old to start a career in coaching, but thankfully I've been able to last 31 years and enjoy many great moments along the way."