FOLLOWING IN DAD’S FOOTSTEPS — Pictured, above: Mark Nugent talks to his Jamestown varsity girls basketball team, during a recent game. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
JAMESTOWN — A 1983 Springville-Griffith Institute graduate, Mark Nugent, just wrapped up his first season as the head girls varsity basketball coach at Jamestown High School. Nugent led Jamestown to the Section VI title, composing an 18 – 3 record, before falling in the regionals to Gates Chili who, with the win, improved to 23 – 0.
“They were a tremendous team,” said Nugent, about Gates Chili. “Our plan was to get those turnovers. Teams like that don’t turn the ball over much, and it’s a credit to them. We tried to push the ball a bit; tried a box-and-one. They had good athletes, all over the floor.”
With the loss, Jamestown fell to 18 – 4 on the season, which saw three girls average double figures, in scoring.
“At the beginning of the year, we didn’t know how far we would go. Our expectations were high, like every other team,” said Nugent. “The question marks are always there, though. These kids just fought, all year long. They are the hardest-working bunch of kids that I’ve ever been involved with. They’re dedicated; they work hard in the gym; [they’re] great students. They’re just great people to be around. To come this far is a credit to them.”
Nugent coached at the modified level at Jamestown for 10 years, before making the jump to the varsity program. Nugent was a three-sport athlete at S-GI, playing football, basketball and baseball. In football, Nugent was coached by his father, Michael Nugent. When Mark Nugent took the job, as the girls varsity coach at Jamestown, he was entering a similar situation as his father, before him. His daughter, Olivia, was a senior on his team.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience, being able to coach Olivia, especially because it’s her senior year, before she moves on to Ohio State,” said Nugent, about the experience. “My dad always told me and my brother Mike that we had to work that much harder and be great leaders, because we were the coach’s kids. Olivia is aware of that, too, and is a great leader of our team.”
Olivia Nugent was one of the Red Raiders’ key players this season, along with fellow senior Anne Campion.
BLAST FROM THE PAST — Nugent was a three-sport athlete at S-GI. Pictured, above: Nugent takes the field, for S-GI varsity football. Photo submitted by Nugent.
Mark Nugent was a decorated athlete at Springville. He played quarterback on the freshman and junior varsity teams, during his freshman and sophomore years, and led the teams to a combined 15 – 1 record, during that span. During his sophomore season, he threw for 1,021 yards and 10 touchdowns, while completing 71 percent of his passes.
When he moved up to the varsity team, in his junior year, Nugent was named a first, all-league defensive back, while his team finished with a 6 – 3 record, en route to a trip to Rich Stadium, now Ralph Wilson Stadium. As a senior, Nugent was a finalist for the Connolly Cup, which is the Western New York version of the Heisman Trophy. His team finished the season 7 – 1 and was ranked No. 1 in New York state, for three weeks.
In addition to being a Connolly Cup finalist, Nugent made first team all-league as a quarterback and also took second team all-Western New York honors as a quarterback, as well. In the summer, Nugent was the starting quarterback for the south, during the Kensington Lions Club all-star game. This an annual event combined some of Western New York’s highest-ranked high school seniors.
During his senior year, Nugent passed for 1,054 yards and 11 touchdowns, which are both school records. He also holds the school records for the most completions in one game, with 15, and has the school record for interceptions in a game, with 3.
He attended the State University of New York at Brockport. In college, Nugent was a three-year starter, playing quarterback and running back. As a senior, Nugent was elected team captain.
During the winter, Nugent took to the hardwood as a basketball starting guard, during his junior and senior seasons. At the varsity level, he led his team to championship seasons in 1982 and 1983.
“I think playing the game is very advantageous to a coach. It is easier to teach skill development and situations to athletes, if you have experienced them yourself,” Nugent said, about playing basketball as a high school athlete.
When spring rolled around, Nugent participated in track and field, participating primarily in sprinting and jumping. Nugent played in the long jump, triple jump and high jump, while also running a leg of the 4-by-100 relay team. He graduated with a degree in physical education and went on to the State Unversity of New York at Fredonia to finish his masters degree in elementary education. In 2010, Nugent was inducted into the Pop Warner Hall of Fame.
“I am extremely honored to be inducted into the Pop Warner Hall of Fame. To know that I will forever be a part of a list of all these great, successful athletes is truly humbling,” Nugent said, in a 2010 Springville Journal article.
Now, Nugent lives in Jamestown with his wife Suzette and his three children: Olivia, Christian and Eli.
“I have been lucky to have great basketball coaching role models in Bob Schlageter and Jim Rindfuss, who made our teams successful,” Nugent said, about his high school coaches. “Intensity and dedication are traits they had, that I try to emulate, as a basketball coach.”
Nugent is part of the S-GI football alumni group, which raises money for the football program, as well as organizing reunion events. He was present for the alumni’s annual football game, held during homecoming weekend at S-GI. Nugent said he still comes to some local games, to watch his former team play, and added that he was “extremely happy” with the Griffins’ most recent sports season.
“This year’s football season was really special,” Nugent said. “We were at the Pioneer game and I think, ever since that game, there seemed to be a belief and certainty that they were going to win.
“When I played, that’s the way every Friday night in the fall was,” the coach continued. “We knew we were going to win; no doubts from anyone. It was instilled in us, from my dad and his staff, and we believed it.
“We were so well prepared and so ready to play every game. This year, the kids just played with such confidence and made it to the Ralph,” he said.“Confidence is contagious, so let’s hope it’s the start of something big for S-GI football.”