By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Nick Palantzas of Brockton was working as the athletic director at Massasoit Community College and eventually became a senior vice president at the school, so he put coaching in the rear-view mirror.
After going 334-87-24 with national titles in 1986 and 1987 during a 21-year stint on the sideline at Massasoit, Palantzas moved in another direction.
Now, after retiring from Massasoit earlier this year, Palantzas has returned to college soccer this season.
He is working as an assistant coach for both the men's and women's teams at Bridgewater State University.
"It's really enjoyable," Palantzas said, who was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Men's Soccer Hall of Fame in 1995. "I really enjoy working with the student-athletes.
"I always wanted to get back in the game. I've always stayed close to soccer. I talk to Rui (Estrela, the head men's coach at Massasoit), weekly, almost daily. I talk to my other ex-players who are coaching all the time."
BSU women's coach Yasmina Carvalho of Brockton, now in her fifth season, is a friend of Palantzas' daughter, Vicky, and knows all about his soccer success.
When Carvalho was hired to coach the Bears in 2014, the wheels were put in motion for Palantzas to one day join the BSU soccer programs.
"Five years ago, when it was announced that I was hired, he sent me a text message and the first thing he said to me was, 'Save a spot on your coaching staff. I'll be retiring in five years,'" Carvalho said. "Every year, we'd count down the years.″
Bridgewater State's two soccer teams shared an assistant coach, Sam Matteson, last season, and when he left to become a volunteer assistant at Bryant University, there was an opening.
Palantzas, who was employed at Massasoit for 37 years, had lent a hand to the BSU women's program last season on an informal basis, but this season is working at practices and games for the men and women.
"The game's still the game," he said. "I always looked at this game as not being complicated, but it requires focus, concentration and fitness. You've got to have skill, but you've got to have those other things well as.
"I'm hoping to be able to contribute and to be able to assist the student-athlete on an individual basis as well as collectively as a team. I participate in practice, do some recruiting, work at the games, do some scouting. It's been fun."
Carvalho, who played at Brockton High and Bridgewater State, and Brendan Adams, the Bears men's coach, are happy to have a Hall of Fame coach on their respective staffs.
"He's been around the game of soccer," Carvalho said. "His mentality tactically is so spot-on. He sees a lot of things most coaches don't. He picks out small details about the way player and teams play.
"The relationships he creates, he takes time to help players one-on-one. He has connections with all the other coaches around. He's had such an impact on the game in New England."
Adams played at Stonehill College when his team would scrimmage Massasoit with Palantzas as the Warriors coach. Adams also coached a youth team that Palantzas son, Jimmy, played on years ago.
"Nick has seen so much over the years, on the field and off the field," Adams said. "He gives us a different perspective and is more of a calming influence for myself.
"I've been fortunate enough to be around 17 years now (at BSU), but there's still stuff I want to continue learning as a coach. He's someone who gives me a person I can go to in order to ask advice, like a mentor type. It's been great."