Jack Paliotte wasn’t able to attend the awards banquet where he was honored, but he had a pretty good – and fitting – excuse.
Paliotte was set to receive the Rhode Island Football Officials Association Jack Martin Award, which honors an individual who has had a major impact on the game of football in Rhode Island. When the banquet was happening last month, Paliotte was of course busy having that impact, representing Ocean State Pop Warner at the national championships in Florida.
It was a sign that RIFOA got the right guy.
Paliotte, a Warwick resident and a 25-year veteran of the Warwick Police Department, has been the director of the Police Athletic League for five years and has been involved as a volunteer coach with PAL’s youth football program for more than 15 years. He’s also been an assistant coach with Pilgrim High School and Toll Gate High School.
The award was a welcome feather in the many football hats he wears.
“I was very surprised,” Paliotte said. “You do things because you enjoy them not because you want the recognition. It was greatly appreciated.”
Paliotte’s impact on football started with its impact on him. He grew up playing in the youth ranks. At La Salle Academy, he was a fullback and defensive end. He joined the Warwick police force soon after college, and football was still on his mind.
“It was definitely something I wanted to stay involved with,” he said. “I enjoy the challenge, I enjoy the teaching. It’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
Warwick’s Police Athletic League offered the perfect set-up. Paliotte started helping out on the football field in 1998, when a few of his fellow officers were coaching a team. His sons, John and Joe, came through the program, and Paliotte was there every step of the way.
“I knew we had the PAL programs, and when I heard some of the guys I was on the road with talk about coaching, I just jumped right on the opportunity,” Paliotte said. “It’s something I continued with.”
Like a lot of youth coaches who come in with their kids, Paliotte wasn’t ready to hang up the whistle and leave with his kids. He has continued coaching PAL teams even as his responsibilities within the organization increased. As the director, Paliotte oversees eight sports programs, but still finds time every fall to be on the gridiron.
“I still have friends coaching, and I always tell them I’m willing to help,” he said. “I still enjoy it.”
PAL had one of its most successful seasons in recent memory this past fall, sending three teams to Ocean State Pop Warner Super Bowls.
“It was a fun year for us,” Paliotte said.
Paliotte has also helped out in the high school ranks. He was an assistant coach at Pilgrim for several years and even stepped in as the interim head coach late in the 2009 season, leading the Pats to a Thanksgiving win over Warwick Vets in his son John’s senior season. His daughter Janelle and youngest son Joe have also played sports at Pilgrim.
This past fall, Paliotte joined the football staff at Toll Gate. He also coaches with PAL’s American Legion and Babe Ruth baseball programs.
When fall rolls around, there’s no doubt he’ll be on a football field again – and he’ll be having an impact that doesn’t go unnoticed.
“It’s been a lot of fun and I have full intentions of continuing to do it,” he said. “I really enjoy coaching the young kids, because they’re really eager to learn. That’s what it’s all about.”