Changing of the guard

Brian Mariano, left, congratulates Naugatuck High School physical education teacher Tony Loomis on being named national PE teacher of the year in 2014. Mariano is the interim athletic director at the high school. –RA ARCHIVE

Brian Mariano, left, congratulates Naugatuck High School physical education teacher Tony Loomis on being named national PE teacher of the year in 2014. Mariano is the interim athletic director at the high school. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Change is inevitable, as they say. The Naugatuck High School athletic program has undergone some changes in the past few years and former Athletic Director Tom Pompei has been at the forefront of those changes.

After ten years at the helm, Pompei, who is a former president of the Naugatuck Valley League and oversaw the recent renovation of the school’s athletic complex, stepped down as athletic director in February to spend more time with his family. Pompei remains one of two deans of students at the school.

Brian Mariano, a 2002 graduate of Naugatuck High School and standout athlete over his high school career, has taken up the torch as the interim athletic director.

Mariano certainly left his mark on Naugatuck athletics as a student. He was a member of the first boys soccer team to win a state championship in 2001. He was nominated for an Espy Award scoring the winning goal on a somersault throw-in in the title game.

He was 2000 Class LL and State Open diving champion, and repeated the feat in his senior year as the 2001 Class L and State Open diving champion.

Mariano earned a scholarship to Indiana University where he was the Big Ten Diver of the Year in 2006 earning Division I All-American honors and was on two USA Diving Championship teams.

“I can honestly say, I never saw myself as the A.D. at Naugatuck,” said Mariano, who works as an intern for the District Administrative Training Program splitting his time between Maple Hill Elementary School, Hop Brook Elementary School and Naugatuck High School.

The 32-year-old former Greyhound is married to Ashley, a match teacher at the high school, and they have two children, 4-year-old Eliana and 3-year-old Blake.

The night he was hired as the interim athletic director, Mariano earned another title — heads boys soccer coach at NHS. Mariano, who was an assistant coach for the team for 10 years, is replacing Art Nunes, who retired in the fall after 21 seasons coaching the team.

With all the changes, particularly the new duties as interim athletic director, things can be a little hectic.

“It all comes down to organizing your time,” Mariano said. “It’s a little busy to say the least, with all the questions, phone calls and emails. Fortunately I have some amazing people to work with, like Kristin Crosswait, the athletic director secretary, who keeps me organized. She knows it all and I’m so lucky to have her keeping me on track.”

A permanent athletic director is expected to be hired at the end of the school year. The position pays an annual stipend of $11,000.

Naugatuck High School Principal Janice Saam likes what she sees in Mariano so far.

“Brian hasn’t been appointed as the permanent replacement, yet,” Saam said. “But I can say that so far he has been a delight to work with.”

“I think it goes without saying that his athletic accomplishments underscore his passion for athletics and his knowledge of sports and the teams,” Samm added. “Not only is he creating athleticism in our student-athletes, but also instilling in them a sense of teamwork, pride and honor in representing Naugatuck High School.”