Mario Valentini – Inaugural NYCHSFL Coach of the Year


By Matt Diano

Making its debut at the awards banquet was the inaugural “Valentini” Meto Catholic Coach of the Year Award; and the fact that the inspiration and/or namesake behind trophy also happens to be the first recipient was a case of poetic and well-deserved valor!!!

The Book of John (12:26) states, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”….

Ponder these sentiments above and then consider that for the better part of the past 4.5 decades, the NYCHSFL has never known anything but the glorious, generous, altruistic presence of the living legend that is Mr. Mario Valentini!!

A soul who name has become synonymous with the term, “service”, between his own individual playing career and then 45 years on staff (40 in the role of Head Coach), Valentini is an institution unto himself at Mount St. Michael Academy, carving out a legacy that can never/will never be matched on the Murdock Avenue based campus!!!

A branch off of the respective coaching trees of Howie Smith (his coach/mentor) & Joe Tricario Sr. (spend five years as a Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach under Tricario), the former Mountaineer quarterback/Class of 1969 graduate [Valentini] ascended to the helm of his alma mater during the 1984 season and the rest quite literally has been historic!!!

The owner of 227 victories (227-180-1), under the guidance of Valentini, the Mount made 10 trips to the downstate Catholic League title game, winning Triple-A crowns in 1992, 1996, and 1997; complemented by Double-A gold in 2009 and 2023!!!

Sending their coach out in proper fashion, this year’s cohort emerged with an 8-3 overall resume, punched their ticket to championship weekend for a second straight fall (2022 runners-up), and seized the AA-2 prize by way of a 34-3 triumph over Xaverian!

The November 18th celebration on Coffey Field/Fordham University being the moment onto which we choose to cling, the fact that Valentini’s official “last dance” was a loss in the Turkey Bowl in no way detracts from the fable/sage that he authored….After all, highlighted by a 24-year unbeaten streak (1984-2007), MSMA still enjoys a winning record in their annual Thanksgiving cross-Bronx rivalry with Cardinal Hayes!!

His impact and influence on the lives of those whom he touched not just measured/judged by wins/losses on a patch of grass or turf; the ultimate conquest and sign of admiration was witnessed when after being informed that he had been relieved of his coaching duties at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign, the ensuing uproar/support from current/former players sparked such a movement that the administration later reversed their decision and enabled the hometown hero to exit the dignity he so rightfully warranted and had earned!