DiNardo joins state’s elite 500-wins club

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DiNardo joins state’s elite 500-wins club

The Lady Hatters and Athletics Director Chip Salvestrini present a banner to Coach Jackie DiNardo commemorating her 500th win as a Connecticut high school girls' basketball coach. She joins elite company in achieving the milestone.

The Lady Hatters and Athletics Director Chip Salvestrini present a banner to Coach Jackie DiNardo commemorating her 500th win as a Connecticut high school girls' basketball coach. She joins elite company in achieving the milestone.

Courtesy of Josh Richter

The Lady Hatters and Athletics Director Chip Salvestrini present a banner to Coach Jackie DiNardo commemorating her 500th win as a Connecticut high school girls' basketball coach. She joins elite company in achieving the milestone.

Courtesy of Josh Richter

Courtesy of Josh Richter

The Lady Hatters and Athletics Director Chip Salvestrini present a banner to Coach Jackie DiNardo commemorating her 500th win as a Connecticut high school girls' basketball coach. She joins elite company in achieving the milestone.

Abigail Craig, Staff Writer

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Girls’ basketball coach Jackie DiNardo earned her 500th win this season, another crowning achievement in a long list of coaching accolades. The winning game against Bridgeport Central High School on Feb. 5 ended with a score of 87-34 in front of a cheering Hatter crowd.

DiNardo is now among an elite group of girls’ basketball coaches in the state to have hit this career mark. She is the second female coach among the state’s high school girls’ basketball coaches to have 500 career wins under her belt, aside from North Bradford’s Chris Webster, and has an impressive overall record of 503 wins and 283 losses.

Previously, she has been inducted into the University of Texas Hall of Fame, Azle High School Hall of Fame, Connecticut Hall of Fame, and FCIAC Hall of Fame, as well as been honored as the Connecticut Coach of the Year and a National Coach of the Year Finalist. In addition, DiNardo can proudly say that “making the United State National team in 1979” is another one of her greatest accomplishments within her basketball career.

After graduating from the University of Texas in 1981 and being employed by Baylor University as head volleyball coach and assistant basketball coach, DiNardo made the move to Connecticut. DiNardo then began her high school coaching career in 1983 in North Salem, N.Y.. DiNardo was then hired in 1987 by Danbury, where she has continued her coaching career at what she calls “the greatest high school in the state of Connecticut.”

DiNardo, principal at REACH, does not plan on retiring anytime soon, even after coaching for 36 years in Connecticut, 32 of those right here. DiNardo says that she has hopes for the younger girls starting out in the game, and is confident that they will carry on another successful four years at least. The coach plans to continue coaching “as long as [her] passion is a part of the game.”

Athletics Director Chip Salvestrini has been greatly impressed by DiNardo’s accomplishments, and said that to have a 500th win, especially in basketball, “is an unbelievable accomplishment.”

“Coach DiNardo’s teams are not only motivated to compete fairly and at a consistently high level, but her teams are also motivated to be the best they can be as individual players, as good students and as good people,” said Salvestrini.

One of DiNardo’s players, sophomore Tianna Rogers, said that “being a part of Jackie’s 500th win was really special and [the team] has worked so hard to get her those 500 wins.”

Teammate Julianne Gaudio, sophomore, was shocked and overjoyed by the 500th win as well. “She deserves these 500 wins for all of the hardwork and dedication she’s put into her coaching,” she said.

Senior and small forward Ty’Lynn Ith is happy that she “was able to contribute to [DiNardo’s] career” and “make so many memories during this season.” Ith is appreciative of the fact that she will forever be able to say that she played a part in her coach’s 500th win because “growing up, [she] never thought [she] would’ve been the one to help reach such an amazing accomplishment.”

One thing that this win shows about DiNardo’s program is that her team “executes well, is always on the lookout for improvement, and keeps an eye out for one another,” shared Ith.

The team, which went on a 11-game winning streak at one point this winter, finished the regular season 15-5 overall, 13-3 in the FCIAC West Division. The Lady Hatters made it to the FCIAC tournament semifinals before falling to eventual champion Norwalk. Meanwhile, it clinched a playoff berth in the states.

For DiNardo, her 500th victory means she has made a significant impact on many young girls and visa versa. The coach is thankful for being able to be a part of so many girls’ lives and it means the world to her seeing “young women who work so hard, [become] successful adults.”

DiNardo was overjoyed when she heard from people from all over to congratulate her on the milestone. “It was amazing to hear from so many past, present, and future athletes,” the coach said.  

Typically, however, DiNardo does not want to take full credit for attaining the milestone.

“It took several teams to participate and successfully accomplish the wins for one coach to achieve this goal, and [everyone who has helped] deserves the credit,” she said.

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