Longtime Wallingford coach, teacher, community leader Economopoulos dies

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WALLINGFORD — The area lost one of its all-time coaching greats Thursday morning when Wallingford’s Nick Economopoulos passed away at age 72.

Economopoulos spent 20 years coaching the Lyman Hall girls basketball team and oversaw five state championship appearances in his tenure, which spanned from 1974 to 1993.

He guided the Trojans to consecutive Class L state titles in 1985 and 1986. When he left Lyman Hall for East Catholic, he had compiled a record of 371-101.

Economopoulos spent 13 seasons at East Catholic and won Class M state titles with the Eagles in 2002 and 2004.

During his three-year high school coaching hiatus, Economopoulos continued to don the whistle for the Connecticut Starters AAU, a travel program he started in 1988.

He later coached at Coginchaug in 2013 and posted a 13-7 record.

Economopoulos leaves his wife Sue, daughters Christine, Lynn, Nickie and Shani, son Jimmy and eight grandchildren that he adored. Arrangements will be posted once available.

According to Connecticut Starters Director Joe Ticotsky, Economopoulos’ vision, passion and basketball knowledge quickly allowed the club to become one of the top programs on the East Coast.

“Around this time, he also started one of the largest and longest running overnight basketball camps in the state’s history,” Ticotsky noted. “But simply listing his basketball accomplishments would short-change his impact as a teacher, husband, family man and friend.

“Despite his often fiery exterior on the sidelines, Nick was one of the most kindhearted people you could ever meet. Always willing to help those in need, he was truly an advocate for the downtrodden in society and quietly helped hundreds of former students, players and friends when in need.

Economopoulos was also a Wallingford Town Councilor.

His son Jimmy became the Daniel Hand boys basketball varsity coach in 2017. Economopoulos was on the bench this winter when his son won a state championship of his own. 

Nick Economopoulos amassed more than 600 wins in his high school girls basketball coaching career and he was inducted into the Lyman Hall High School Hall of Fame in 2011.

A native of Westbury, N.Y., Economopoulos was a three-sport scholastic athlete who went to play football and baseball at Central Connecticut State.

He joined the Lyman Hall staff as a business education teacher, established the school’s Powder Puff program and took charge of the girls basketball program in 1974. His 1985-86 state championship squad was ranked No. 15 nationally by USA Today. He also coached baseball and football at LH.

Ticotsky said Economopoulos coached a Who’s Who of players with the Starters. Among his alumni are Jennifer Rizzotti and Nykesha Sales, who went on to star at UConn.

“Some of the players have reached out on Facebook,” Ticotsky remarked. “They all loved playing for him.”

Ticotsky said Economopoulos had a unique ability to connect to his players.

“You didn’t know what was going to come out of his mouth,” Ticotsky said. “He cared so much about the kids. There were some times he was crying after the game because he loved coaching so much.

“He held kids accountable, which isn’t easy. He allowed them to realize the potential they had by showing things they should do.”

Ticotsky, who was an assistant under Economopoulos at Lyman Hall for five years, said his mentor was a legendary figure on and off the court. 

“He just had a way about it,” Ticotsky said. “He could meet a person for the first time ever and, an hour later, you had a buddy for life. I was so happy to see him with Jimmy when he won a state championship at Hand this year.”

Economopoulos’ daughter Christie Madancy said the outpouring from the Wallingford community has been appreciative following the news of her dad got out.

“Everywhere I go in town people ask if I’m Eco’s daughter,” Madancy said. “He is such a recognizable figure in town. He was involved in town politics after he retired and his loss in town has been felt tremendously. With the amount of people contacting me, I’m blown away. He was amazing and he was loved.

“He was a great dad, a great coach, a great grandfather, and we are all very saddened with his passing.”


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