When Patrick Aiello visited Forsyth County and Pinecrest Academy as he interviewed for the boys’ lacrosse head coach position, he couldn’t help but think about his hometown of Massapequa, New York.
The proximity to Atlanta reminded him of the convenience and haven of the suburbs in Nassau County on Long Island. MARTA reminded him of the Long Island Rail Road. Metro Atlanta’s rapid embrace of lacrosse reminded him of the fervor for the sport in New York.
"I really felt at home being there," Aiello said.
Aiello will have a new home by Tuesday when he arrives in Georgia and officially takes over the Paladins boys’ lacrosse program as it starts playing a varsity schedule next season in Area 3-A/AAAAA. He replaces Sam Lialios, who led Pinecrest to a 6-3-2 record in its inaugural season with a junior varsity schedule.
Though he comes from a different state, Aiello said he’s been able to get a look at the Paladins’ roster and talent.
"There’s some very good talent, and we’ve got some raw talent," Aiello said. "Kind of a mix of things, and it’s going to be great to work with.
"I’m walking into a very good situation. There’s a great foundation built in the middle school and JV teams by the prior coaching staff and parents. I just want to build a great lacrosse program."
Aiello comes to Pinecrest after three seasons at Ole Miss where he led the men’s lacrosse team. Under Aiello, the Rebels went 12-19 overall and 2-12 in the South West division of the Southeastern Lacrosse Conference.
Aiello played lacrosse at Molloy College on Long Island where he helped the men’s team win the 2005 ECAC championship.
That’s the kind of future Aiello sees for his new players.
"I like to instill life lessons that kids can take into college and use the rest of their lives," Aiello said. "It’s going to take time, but my goal is to build a top-notch lacrosse program to attract college coaches to recruit these kids and give them an opportunity to play on the next level."