Elliot Lovi, a legend in both Millburn and Livingston high school sports, was honored by the Livingston Board of Education Monday night for being the winningest coach in the country, having recently amassed 1,000 career wins.
For 39 years, Lovi has guided the Livingston Lancers in boys tennis and had coached the Millburn girls team for 27 years before leaving last summer to coach both boys and girls in Livingston. On April 21, he became the first coach nationwide to amass 1,000 career wins. Known for being humble, Lovi preferred to reflect on the people he's coached and coached with, instead of his own accomplishment.
"It's special," Lovi told Patch about his accomplishment. "The best part of this has been the people who have contacted me, people I haven't heard from in years. In the last few days, I've spoken to players I've coached even back in the '70s. Modern technology – it's good."
One of those who reached out to him was Verona girls tennis coach Pat Schoenig, who commended Lovi and his team for their graciousness.
"I really think that says alot about these gentlemen," Lovi said while motioning to members of his team. "They are great representatives of the community, the school, their families and the Board of Education."
The big win came on April 21 when the Lancers defeated Newark Academy 3-2 in the Essex County Tournament semifinal round. However, when pressed for what was his biggest accomplishment overall, the win number 1,000 doesn't top Lovi's list.
"The two special (accomplishments) would be last year's team, the 36-0 team in 2011 and the 1977 37-0 team, those were two special teams," said Lovi. "We've had seven state championships, but those two were the Tournament of Champions winners. So they were very special."
Despite being the coach of the team for 39 years, Lovi, who is also the girls coach for Livingston High School, has no plans to retire anytime soon.
"I just go day-to-day, I really don't put a number on it," said Lovi. "I didn't when I taught either, you just do what you do. I love it."