Belleville High School Boys Volleyball Coach Paul Aiello calls his coaching success "lucky," but the results show that his of method of identifying with his athletes works very well.
Aiello was honored at Monday night's Belleville Board of Education as North Jersey Section 2 State Coach of the Year, as picked by the Star Ledge newspaper.
Aiello chose not to speak on his behalf during the meeting, instead letting officials talk about the team and individual player successes.
His athletes were named to first, second and third team All Essex County Volleyball teams, with one making second team all-state, according to Thomas D'Elia, Belleville athletic director said.
"It is my honor to recognize Coach Aiello for a very successful first year," D'Elia said.
The team lost in the state semifinals to the eventual state champion and won nearly three fourths of its games, D'Elia said.
In an interview after the meeting, Aiello said he has been lucky, but said his attempts to establish a sense of trust with his athletes has been very rewarding.
"I have been able to build a trusting coach/athlete relationship, and they know that I always have their best interests at heart," Aiello said.
Helping his athletes improve their mental approach to playing is another of Aiello's strengths, he said.
"I believe the mental aspects of approaching a game are as important as the physical preparation," Aiello said.
His first year success as a volleyball coach is not the first time Aiello has gotten off to a fast start.
"In Bergen County, I coached tennis at Indian Hills in 2005, and was named coach of the year there," he said.
In both cases, Aiello did eventually concede that his sports background did play a part in his quick success.
"I do have a good knowledge in both sports that I have coached," Aiello said with a smile that rarely leaves his face when he talks being a coach and an educator.
Aiello teaches biology at the high school and took on another challenge this summer.
"I'm the supervisor of summer school in Belleville this year," he said, adding that making sure students can catch up on a class needed for graduation is important to him.
As for coaching, after leaving girls tennis to come to Belleville, he is looking for a more lasting run this time.
"I hope this is the start of a long career," Aiello said.