Bill Belichick’s Lowell Connection

File this one under, another Lowell Connection.

I am about half way through a book by David Halberstam titled The Education of a Coach. The book chronicles Patriots’ head-coach Bill Belichick and the people and events that shaped his successful career in professional football. It is a fascinating account of what it takes to make it to the top as an NFL coach. Halberstam especially emphasizes the many people that influenced Belichick in his early years. One such mentor mentioned in the book is the late Steve Sorota of Lowell. Sorota coached Belichick in football during his days at Philips Academy in Andover. Sorota was known for his calm, rational approach to the game and the respect he gave his players, characteristics discernible in the now legendary New England coach today. I was intrigued by the Lowell/Belichick connection so I google Sorota’s name.

Here is what I found:

From the Lowell High School Athletic Hall of Fame

Class of 1931
Inducted in 1988

Through his efforts as both a player and a coach, Steve Sorota’s name has been etched into the athletic histories not only of Lowell High School but also of Fordham University and Phillips Andover Academy.
At Lowell High School Steve was one of the many three-sport athletes of his era. He starred as football running back under Coach Joe Nolan. He was an outstanding weight man for the Red & Gray Track Team, establishing a state record in the discus. In 1931, Steve also performed on the Lowell High Baseball Team. He received the outstanding scholar athlete award at graduation in 1931.
Steve went on to Fordham University to become a three-year, sixty minute per game starter for the Iron Major, Coach Frank Cavanaugh. Steve was named Fordham MVP in the 1933 contest against Boston College.
After graduation, Steve became football and track coach at Phillips Andover Academy, coaching both sports from 1936–1978.

His football teams compiled an impressive 162–90–10 record, including six undefeated seasons. His track teams won numerous major championships, including the New England Prep School title. Steve was also a respected speaker at various track and football clinics nationwide throughout his career. His forty-three years of dedication to the young men of Phillips Andover earned him induction into both the Mass. State Football and Track Coaches Halls of Fame.

3 Responses to Bill Belichick’s Lowell Connection

  1. John Quealey says:

    Lowell High Coach Joe Nolan lived in The Grove on Crowley Street as I remember before moving to Chelmsford in the mid forties Joes wife was from Sidney Street After moving The Coach would Stop at Quealey’s when he came to visit his in-laws.High school football was big in those days and I enjoyed talking to the coach of Chelsmsford High School.As always the Grove boys gave all a great a great welcome.

  2. David Pevear says:

    I asked Belichick about Sorota at the Super Bowl in Houston in 2005. His reply:
    “The one thing Steve did was put a lot of responsibility on the players. He let the quarterback call his own plays. He let the players make a lot of decisions, and a lot of their preparation was done on their own. He’d say, ‘Look, here’s what you got to do, I expect you to go do it.’
    “And I had never been approached like that. I had always seen it the other way: ‘Here’s what I want you do it. I’m going to take you through it step by step and you just tow the line and do it.’
    “That’s OK, too. But Steve put a lot of responsibility and accountability on his players and it was fun. I think I learned you can do it another way and still be successful.”

  3. Kathy Nolan Deschenes says:

    Joe Nolan was/is my grandfather. He coached at LHS and CHS, and in between that time also coached in FL and at Berwick Academy in Maine. As soon as Belichick became the Pats coach my family started calling my grandfather, “Belichick’s coach’s coach.”

    And Richard, according to Walter Shea, we were all in the same class at St. Margaret’s. I’m enjoying your blog. Nice work!