Coach Elliott takes over TCA basketball after Falchi steps down

Eric Elliott has stepped in as head coach of the Trenton Catholic Academy boys’ basketball team after Fred Falchi announced in December that he was stepping down due to health reasons. Courtesy photo

By Rich Fisher | Contributing Editor

When Fred Falchi stepped down as coach of the Trenton Catholic Academy boys’ basketball team over the holidays, assistant Eric Elliott took over one of the most high profile programs in the state. The pressure to win is constant, but Elliott is not making it his first priority.

In fact, it barely makes it into the top five. “I am looking for four things in regards to my players,” Elliott said. “I want good character guys on and off the floor. I want guys that are good teammates. I want guys that play hard, and I want guys that are coachable.

“This not only applies to basketball but in life as well. I want young men that are productive members of society, that work hard in the classroom and play hard and guys that are willing to learn and who listen. If they can do these four things, all of the Xs and Os and wins and losses will take care of themselves.”

That being said, Elliott realizes TCA has a history of winning. The Iron Mikes are constantly among the state’s top teams and have won their share of Mercer County Tournament titles this decade.

“There is always pressure when taking over a perennial state power, especially when the former coach is as accomplished as coach Falchi,” Elliott said. “The standard has been set in regards to winning. Our guys are aware of the history, and they want to be able to add to it.”

Elliott already has the confidence of Falchi, who is still on board as TCA’s assistant athletic director.

“Eric understands the game,” Falchi said. “He’s been with us for a while. When we were talking about the job, the thing that he said to me that means the most is, ‘Listen, I don’t care how good we are. I want to coach kids who are student athletes.’ And guess what, that’s what it’s all about.”

The son of Air Force parents, Elliott and his family bounced around several years before landing in Evansville, Ind. He attended Catholic school there from kindergarten to 10th grade and played football, basketball and baseball. His former high school, Evansville Memorial, is Yankee great Don Mattingly’s alma mater. Sports became a way of life for Elliott and his two younger brothers, and basketball became his main sport.

The family eventually moved to Hamilton Township, and Elliott played his final two years of basketball at Steinert High before becoming a 1,000-point scorer at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania. His time at Steinert was the only two years he did not attend Catholic school.

“The Catholic faith has helped mold me into the person I am today and strive to be,” said Elliott, a member of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square. “After my playing career, I knew I wanted to stay around the game, so I decided that I wanted to get into coaching.”

He started at Delaware Valley College and was there for two years, helping guide DelVal to its first NCAA Division III tournament. From there, he took an assistant’s job at junior college powerhouse Chipola College in Florida, where the team was ranked No. 1 in the nation during his one year there. He returned home five years ago and has been coaching at TCA ever since.

As he took over the Iron Mikes’ reins, he had high praise for the man he replaced. “It was a great experience learning from someone who has been doing it as long as he has. He has coached and played against the top players for so long, so he has seen it all,” Elliott said.

Falchi said he stepped down as coach during the season due to health reasons.

“Coaching was never a job for me, it was enjoyment,” Falchi said. “But it was probably time for another voice. Coaching is a full-time job if you’re going to do it the right way. Eric’s been around for a while, he’ll know what to do, and I’m still around to help him out if he wants it.”

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