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Joe Fischetti, who enjoyed his one season as a top assistant at Newark East Side, was recently named as the new head baseball coach at Newark Academy where he inherits a post vacated when Dennis Sasso, Jr. accepeted the position as the head diamond mentor at Caldwell. (Photo by Gene Nann-nannphoto)

Joe Fischetti (right) is totally into game as he works from third base coaching box during his reign as the head man at Columbia. (Photo by Glenn Kross)

Newark Academy Athletic Director Ted Gilbreath was thrilled to find a coach with as impressive a background as Joe Fischetti to take over his baseball team's head coaching position for the 2018 season. (Sideline Chatter photo)

Newark Academy Hires Fischetti
As Its New Head Baseball Coach
By Steve Tober

Ted Gilbreath knew that the timing was not optimum and that he had to make a decision in fairly short order when it came to naming the new head baseball coach at Newark Academy; however, the pool of candidates was an impressive one.

In the end of the process he feels he has his man with the naming of former Columbia High School head coach Joe Fischetti as the Minutemen’s new diamond mentor.

“It did make me a bit nervous because the season is fast approaching, but we had 30 applicants that we narrowed down to six and then were very impressed with Joe during the interview process,” said the veteran Newark Academy athletic director. “He has a terrific background in the sport and a strong education background which was important to us.”

Fischetti takes over the post vacated when Dennis Sasso left in December after two successful seasons in order to accept the head job at his high school alma mater, Caldwell after Scott Illiano departed from there to accept the top baseball coaching post at Wayne Hills.

“I don’t begrudge Dennis at all in terms of the timing because he did such a great job guiding our team and he had the opportunity to return to his hometown,” said Gilbreath. “We were fortunate that a person as high caliber as Joe Fischetti was out there and we’re excited to have him come aboard with our team which we feel is capable of another very good season with this group of players.”

Newark Academy finished 18-10 last spring (8-7 in the ultra-tough Super Essex Conference-American Division) and reached the Non-Public B state final where it lost to East Coast power Gloucester Catholic for the overall state championship although the Minutemen did defeat a strong St. Mary’s of Rutherford squad in the Non-Public, North B final.

“We didn’t feel that we wanted to hire a young coach just starting out because we feel we’re already in the ‘win-now’ mode with this group,” said Gilbreath. “Joe has been very successful at Columbia and he was also very influential in helping Newark East Side improve greatly this past spring.”

Newark Academy returns three bona fide ace quality pitchers this spring in Matt Ciccone, Lucas Rich and Will Hutchinson in addition to catcher Ben Kany, one of the better backstops in the SEC.

Fischetti will be bringing longtime fellow Columbia coach Matt Becht on his new staff at Newark Academy. The two worked together for the four seasons (2013-2016) that Fischetti was the head man at Columbia and were also assistant coaches together last spring at East Side

East Side made a complete turnaround in 2017, improving from 6-19 the previous spring to 17-9 in 2017 (including 13-3 whiile sharing the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division title with Caldwell).

Fischetti, who guided Columbia to a pair of SEC-Liberty Division crowns during his four seasons as head coach, was also a nine-year assistant at the Maplewood-South Orange school. He and Becht were not rehired as baseball coaches at Columbia before the 2017 campaign when the school district decided to move in a different direction even though then 3-year-old bullying allegations against the pair had been dismissed.

Fischetti has lodged a formal law suit against the Maplewood-South Orange school district with his attorney Steve Farsiou saying the Board of Education permitted plaintiffs to have open harassemtn, intimidation and bullying (HIB) claims and hold them against him and Becht in violation of the HIB law itself and void of any due process in order to allow them to clear their names.

“I did a lot of my own research, including speaking in depth with Columbia Athletic Director (and former head baseball coach) Larry Busichio,” said Gilbreath. “I feel very good about what I found out concerning Joe and those since-dismissed allegations and we’re very comfortable with our decision to hire him here at Newark Academy.”

Fischetti, always an enthusiastic presence on the diamond, is thrilled to become a head coach once again although he said he will miss the kids and coaches he worked with at East Side.

“I’m very excited for this opportunity at Newark Academy,” he said. “I can’t wait to meet the players and this all going ASAP. I want to thank Adrian Basalosco, the East Side AD, (last year’s head coach) Julian Jova and (2017 assistant and new head coach) Steve Campos for embracing me and bringing me Down Neck for an amazing season last spring!

“My plan had been to stay at East Side. I told Steve Campos that the only way I would leave is if a perfect opportunity came up.

“Newark Academy then opened up and I realized this is the perfect opportunity for me!”

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Matt Becht, a former standout player and a longtime assistant coach at Columbia, will join friend Joe Fischetti on the latter's staff at Newark Academy as the Minutemen have new guiding force to lead the way as the promising team nears the new season. (Photo by Gene Nann)

Athletic Director Ted Gilbreath is proud of some of the best athletic facilities in Essex County at Newark Academy where the spacious Livingston campus has varied field surfaces. (Sideline Chatter photo)


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