Rick Giancola Continues Illustrious Career

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Published October 16, 2015
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The Montclarion
Rick Giancola will look to improve on his 33rd season with Montclair State. Daniel Collins | The Montclarion
Rick Giancola will look to improve on his 33rd season with Montclair State. Daniel Collins | The Montclarion

Rick Giancola will look to improve on his 33rd season with Montclair State.
Daniel Collins | The Montclarion

The Red Hawks’ Sept. 5 game against Delaware Valley College marked the beginning of another football season, but also the beginning of another season of a remarkable career for longtime head coach Rick Giancola.

Holly Gera, Athletic Director at Montclair State, said that Giancola, or “Coach G,” as players refer to him “is a great coach and a great person. He has led the Montclair State football program for over 30 years with class, integrity, and professionalism. He truly cares about the young men on his team. He is a role model and mentor for the student athletes who participate. His win-loss record is truly amazing, but more important are all the lives he has touched in a positive way during his tenure.”

Alumni look back fondly to their years playing for Coach G and to the overall experience of being an Montclair State football player, whether an Indian or a Red Hawk. “I have known Rick for my 27 years here and I am proud to call him a colleague and friend,” said Gera.

He knows a lot about football. He’s been here for over [30] years. I like to pick his brain a bit and see how he diagnoses the game. It’s great to see how his philosophy worked all this time. -Co-captain for the Red Hawks, Denzel Nieves, on Giancola

Giancola, 69, is currently in his 33rd season as head coach of the football team. He has been a part of the program for a long time, starting as an assistant coach in 1975.

He was named the 12th head coach in Montclair State University football history in 1983, replacing Fred Hill, and he has continued to roam the sidelines ever since. He is also the holder of excellent career numbers, including a 226-107-2 record through Week 3 of the 2015 season and a .676 winning percentage for his overall record. His record in games where the Red Hawks play opponents within their conference is 152-51-1, with a .748 winning percentage.
Giancola has led the Red Hawks to nine NCAA Division III playoff berths and eight NJAC championships in 1984-1986, 1989, 1999-2000, 2003 and 2009. He has taken the team to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Playoffs four times and has won three ECAC Championships in 1993, 1998 and 2007.

As head coach, he is a 10-time winner of the NJAC Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Montclair State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007, becoming the first person to earn this honor while still a coach.

“I’ve been here a long time,” Giancola said. “I started out as an assistant coach and became the head coach in 1983. I’ve been involved in the game for a long time and continue to be involved. [I like] the coaching part of it, dealing with the people, the coaches, the players, the administration. I enjoy [the whole thing]. I enjoy the competition and enjoy doing the work.”

[Giancola] is a great coach and a great person. He has led the Montclair State football program for over 30 years with class, integrity, and professionalism. He truly cares about the young men on his team. He is a role model and mentor for the student athletes who participate. His win-loss record is truly amazing, but more important are all the lives he has touched in a positive way during his tenure. -Holly Gera, Athletic Director

In 1989, when Montclair State defeated Ramapo College for Giancola’s 53rd win, he became the winningest head coach in Red Hawks history, surpassing his predecessor Fred Hill in his seventh season. He then achieved the milestone of 100 wins in 1997 when Montclair defeated Wilkes University on Homecoming Day.

“It’s great to play under him,” Denzel Nieves, senior and co-captain, said. “He knows a lot about football. He’s been here for over [30] years. I like to pick his brain a bit and see how he diagnoses the game. It’s great to see how his philosophy worked all this time. It just shows you how unique it is and how great it is at the same time.”
Giancola picked up his 150th career win in 2004, making him the second collegiate coach in New Jersey to accomplish this milestone.

When you’re in the game for a long time, it’s a continuous learning experience. You learn from assistant coaches. You learn from the players. – Rick Giancola

Then, he would pick up his 200th career win when the Red Hawks defeated William Paterson University in the 2010 season finale, making him the sixth head coach in Montclair State athletics history to achieve that accomplishment.

“When you’re in the game for a long time, it’s a continuous learning experience. You learn from assistant coaches. You learn from the players. When you get into a mindset that you think you know it all, it’s probably time to leave, because there’s no one who knows it all and [new] experiences happen every day, every season,” Giancola said. “[The players] teach you something new every season or they remind you of something from the past that you need to revisit and think about all over again.”

Giancola is the winningest active head coach in Division III history, a title that he has held since the retirement of University of Mount Union head coach Larry Kehres in 2013.

Giancola, who graduated from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in 1968, currently lives in Cedar Grove, N.J. with his wife Judy. They have two daughters, Gina and Diana and two granddaughters, Gianna and Adriana.

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