NAUGATUCK — James J. Miele, 75, passed away on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at St. Mary’s Hospital.
He was born in Naugatuck on Dec. 30, 1945, son of the late Anthony Miele Sr. and the late Carmella (Palmieri) Miele.
Passion is not something that will eventually go away, it only burns brighter with age. The first thing Jim Miele does when his feet hit the floor every morning is to head off to the Naugatuck YMCA to shoot basketball. That’s pretty typical for a kid who loves the game of basketball, but hardly the norm for a 69-year-old man. But as Miele says, “It’s in my blood.”
Maybe he’s been spelling his name wrong all these years and the name should be spelled Gym.
Miele showed that practice makes permanent when he led the 1963 Naugatuck High School team in scoring and was named the most outstanding athlete playing for Coach Ed Mariano. He went on to lead Milford Academy in scoring, breaking all the school records as he earned All-New England honors. That got him noticed and he received a basketball scholarship to play for AIC in Springfield, Mass.
Miele averaged 25 points per game his first year and led the freshman team in scoring. He averaged double figures through his sophomore, junior and senior years, and finished his career as a 1,000-point scorer. That earned him honorable mention All-New England.
Miele, who was also a teammate of former UConn men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun, led AIC to the New England Regional championship as a senior and a berth in the NCAA Division II tournament in Evansville, Ind. Miele graduated from AIC as the fourth leading scorer in the team’s history, knocking Calhoun down to fifth.
Miele went on to coach the game he loved as a volunteer at Naugatuck and then assistant coach at Mattatuck before taking over as head coach. During his 25 years teaching career at Great Oak Middle School in Oxford, Jim coached the boys basketball team for seven years. He was always teaching the game of basketball.
Jim leaves many relatives and friends in the area. He was predeceased by his parents and his siblings.
His funeral will be held on Monday, March 8, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. from the Naugatuck Valley Memorial/Fitzgerald-Zembruski Funeral Home, 240 North Main St., Naugatuck, to St. Vincent Ferrer Church, 1006 New Haven Road, Naugatuck, for a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Walk-through calling hour will be held on Monday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the funeral home. Burial is private.
To send an online condolence, visit www.naugatuckvalleymemorial.com.