Pictured: Xavier athletic director Matt Martorelli, left, will start his new job at Farmington in July, at the same time Dan DeConti, right, succeeds him at Xavier.
By Paul Augeri
MIDDLETOWN – The announcements aligned perfectly earlier this month when Matt Martorelli was hired as the new director of athletics at Farmington High and Dan DeConti, his assistant at Xavier, was elevated as his successor on Randolph Road.
Martorelli and DeConti take on their new roles on July 1.
“The timing of the transition was seamless,” Martorelli said Thursday.
Martorelli, 35, came to Xavier in 2019 after working for eight years in the same capacity at Northwest Catholic. A Farmington resident, he returns to the Central Connecticut Conference after being chosen from a reported pool of 150 applicants.
“I’m genuinely excited for Matt,” said DeConti. “It’s a bigger job and he’s talked about his excitement for it. I’m excited for him.
DeConti, 37, likened his next step at Xavier as his “dream job.” He is
DeConti graduated from Xavier in 2001 and earned a degree in education from Central Connecticut State University. He’s taught math at Xavier for 14 years, has coached both junior varsity and varsity hockey, spent eight years under retired AD Tony Jaskot and the last two under Martorelli.
“I’ve been a student at Xavier, a coach at Xavier, a teacher at Xavier and the assistant AD at Xavier. Xavier’s given me my first experiences in a lot of things,” he said. “I’m grateful to the school and excited about the opportunity to pass on what I’ve learned to younger players and coaches.”
It hasn’t been determined whether Xavier will fill the assistant’s job.
DeConti is just the fourth Xavier athletic director since the school was established in 1963, following Art Kohs, Jaskot and Martorelli. The gymnasium at Xavier is named for Kohs.
“The goal is to still providing the best experience for our student-athletes,” he said. “There was a time when I had to just focus on hockey (as coach), but now it’s across the board. Our coaches are fantastic and they have been so supportive of me and I’ll always try the best I can to be supportive of them and whatever they might need.”
DeConti said working with both Jaskot and Martorelli were experiences essential to his growth as a leader and prepared him for the chance to lead the department.
“Tony was phenomenal about giving me responsibility and really teaching me the position,” he said. “Over those eight years I was with him, little by little he would give me more responsibility, where when he left I could run parent meetings and coaches’ meetings. I helped him revamp how we do our budgeting process. He gave me a lot of the tools and the skills to be ready for the position.
“And then working with Matt, Matt was more technology-efficient that Tony was. We have a website at Xavier dedicated to athletics. We were just going through the processes and the procedures to update those pages and keep those things going. Working with Matt has been a lot more on the technical side of things.”
The job at Farmington has been done on an interim basis since the sudden passing of Jack Phelan, who was a mentor to many, last July. Martorelli and Phelan became fast friends through their jobs at CCC schools.
“We had a lot in common with our backgrounds,” said Martorelli. “We both went to Northwest Catholic, so we knew a lot of the same individuals as far as alumni. When I got the job at Northwest Catholic, Jack kind of took me under his wing. I sat down with him a lot, sometimes in his own house. We just had a really cool bond. When he passed away, it was extra difficult because we were so close.”
Phelan, who was 66, was the AD at Farmington for 17 years and part of the larger community through his previous years at the University of Hartford, where he coached men’s basketball.
“The emotions are still really fresh (at Farmington), just by talking to people throughout the interview process,” Martorelli said. “It’s still clear there are open wounds. My hiring is not going to heal those wounds any quicker. That’s something that’s going to happen organically over time.”
“Jack and I had very similar mindsets when it came to how to run an athletic department,” he added. “I’m looking at this as an opportunity to continue his great work at Farmington High School.”