Dumont's coaching staff...parting the closest of friends

Kelly Lallave (left) and Jaclyn Costantini are leaving high school coaching to pursue other opportunities when then season ends. Dumont head coach Dave Cieplicki ain't going anywhere.

DUMONT – Ask Kelly Lallave and Jaclyn Costantini (nee McClinton) their favorite Dave Cieplicki story and the pair of assistant coaches laugh as they roll through the catalogue in their minds. There are so many of them from their years together on the girls basketball staff.

Finally Lallave picks one and it starts like this…”There was one time when I was over his house getting ready for a game. I was putting my makeup on and he came in and…

You know what? Some stories are best left untold, especially in this forum, but needless to say this one had a funny ending and even a funny middle for that matter. That is what all three coaches will miss when they part ways after this season.

Lallave, a Ridgefield Park alum, a key piece to the Scarlets team that played in the 2006 Bergen County Tournament championship game under legendary head coach Joe Branda. Lallave then went to Rowan University where she was a teammate of Ashley Cieplicki, Dave’s daughter who is now the head women’s basketball coach at Rutgers University-Newark. Lallave, who has been on staff for eight seasons, wants to climb the ladder in the world of basketball officiating.

Costantini, kindergarten teacher in the Dumont school district, just became a certified fitness instructor and is planning to start a family.

Dave Cieplicki is a Dumont lifer. He started teaching in the district in 1982, took over the girls basketball program in 1983 and has since amassed over 500 career wins, some of them while wearing bedazzled shoes and gaudy sports coats.

He is just not yet ready to give up the gig.

“I told him two years ago that I was done in two years. He said, ‘Great, I will be done then, too. We were supposed to go out together,” said Lallave, a physical education teacher at Dumont HS. “He decided that he wants to stay, so after this season we are all going to follow our own road.”

It’s been a successful last hurrah as Dumont had 19 wins entering Thursday’s regular season finale against St. Dominic Academy and the Huskies, the No. 3 seed in the North 1, Group 2 state sectional tournament, will open their playoff run at home on Tuesday against No. 14 Morris Tech.

When the end of this season comes, things are going to look awfully different in the ‘House That Cieplicki Built.’

“It’s going to be very difficult to replace them. Besides being great tacticians, they have been very loyal to the program, very loyal to me and they love the kids. We work hard, but we have a good time. We laugh a lot,” said Cieplicki. “It’s going to be tough because they have added so much to the program. The kids really respect Kelly and Jacyln to the utmost and they are going to be so hard to replace because I am difficult to work with.”

Costantini, a kindergarten teacher in Dumont who has been on the coaching staff for five years, knows that better than maybe anyone else besides his wife Gayle. Back when she was known as Jaclyn McClinton, she was a point guard on some competitive Dumont teams in the mid to late 2000s.

“I still call him Mr. C. Going back to when I played for him we always had a good relationship. It was fun to get to see it from the other side, the coaching side, but I could still relate to the girls because I was in their shoes,” said Costantini. “There is nobody as dedicated, and I have seen it both as a player and a coach, there is nobody as dedicated as he is. The effort and the heart that he puts into it is amazing and he really cares about every single girl.”

It is always easy to find the funny side of Dave Cieplicki. That is the vibe that he throws out there, but he is also a heckuva basketball coach that has made a positive impact on so many young women both in the classroom and on the court.

“Our relationship goes back to Rowan. When I was on the bench I would look at him up in the top of the stands and we would communicate through sign language about the game about that game that Rowan was playing. We built a connection there,” said Lallave. “And that rolled right into when I left Rowan and he needed an assistant coach. I came here, a position opened in phys ed, so I would say my best Dave Cieplicki story is him just helping me start my adult life here in Dumont. He has really been a huge factor in that. He has been so good to me and so good to so many other people.”