Tonawanda News — In his first season, Tony Truilizio has been hard to miss on the North Tonawanda sideline, his animated persona outmatched only by the sound of his voice.
“I was definitely a vocal football player,” said Truilizio, 44, who played at LaFayette, Canisius and at the semi-pro level for 10 years after graduating college with a Masters degree in school administration.
“I played hard-nosed, very intense football. When I stepped on the field I really took it personal: intense but under control.”
Truilizio was the head coach at Riverside for 10 years and his playing mindset has carried over to his approach on the sidelines.
Down by 16 points late in the team’s loss to McKinley last Friday, senior running back Josh Brosius made a great individual play on a ball that seemed out of his reach. The result of the play had no impact on the game, but Truilizio screamed out to his senior, congratulating him on a great play.
No matter what the score reads, Truilizio said he always makes an effort to reward his players for their successes.
“I think you have to tell them when they do well, you can’t just criticize,” he said. “Kids need to be acknowledged for great plays … As much as I’d be yelling at a kid to make a play I’ll also be yelling as loud as I can when they make a great play, and I want everyone to know it.”
Off the field, Truilizio is a family man first. He said he tries to be a great father to his three kids (Lauren, Lyzi and Anthony) and a great husband to his wife Lisa because “that’s what you have at the end of the day.”
Truilizio grew up on the upper West Side of Buffalo and has become somewhat of an outdoorsman. He loves to fish and generally likes spending times in nature.
“I try to fish. I’m probably the worst fisherman in the world,” Truilizio said. “I can tell you fishing story after story of not catching a fish, but I enjoy it. I’m not a big hunter but I’m trying to get into bow hunting.”
Truilizio coached in the city of Buffalo for most of his career.
When he arrived at NT he quickly realized the difference in the environment in the city of North Tonawanda as compared to Buffalo. In his 10 years at Riverside he heard stories from players about not wanting to leave their house on the weekend for fear of getting shot or assaulted.
Truilizio was quick to point out that kids in NT have hard lives too, but that there are differences. Football was an escape for kids at Riverside; at NT it’s a way of life.
When Truilizio took over he expected to win right away. His teams won four championships at Riverside in his 10 years (three Harvard Cups and one AA North title). He liked what he saw in the summer during mini camps at Erie Community College and Buffalo State, but the injury bug hit the Jacks hard.
Six NT players have suffered concussions this season and three key defensive players that Truilizio planned to rely heavily on this season have barely played (Tyler Durham, Leroy Goldsmith and Taylor Mellott).
But the coach isn’t making excuses and is excited about the future of his team. With all the injuries the Jacks have suffered, Truilizio and his coaching staff have realized how talented the sophomore class is.
No matter how things turn out this season, Truilizio has learned a lot and enjoyed his time on the NT sidelines. He’s looking forward to working with the returning players and believes in their collective ability.
“My personality is to be passionate about this game,” he said. “The successes in my career have come from the game of football.”