Nicholas Cavallaro may best be called the father of the athletic program at Clearwater Central Catholic High School.
Under his leadership as athletic director for the last 32 years, the school’s athletic program has grown form a fledgling three-sport operation with no facilities to become on the most successful in Florida.
Cavallaro spent almost three years in the U.S. Naval Air Force during World War II, then attended West Virginia University. He graduated from there in 1954, and began this teaching and coaching career at Drewry Mason High school in Martinsville, Virginia. In his first season as head basketball coach, Cavallaro’s team finished 14-6. He followed with jobs at St. Francis Catholic (W.Va.) High School and Somerset (Ohio) High school, where he twice directed his basketball teams to the regional playoffs.
In 1960, Cavallaro accepted a job at Chiefland High School as head basketball coach and assistant football coach. He remained at Chiefland for three years, giving the Indians their first winning season in basketball in 20 years.
Cavallaro was hired as athletic director and head basketball coach at Clearwater Central Catholic in 1963 -- the school’s second year of operation. Clearwater Central Catholic, which had no athletic facilities on campus at the time, began its program with football, basketball and baseball. For the first four years, Cavallaro held basketball practice in the school parking lot, and all athletic events were played at various public schools. Under Cavallaro’s guidance, the athletic program at Clearwater Central Catholic has now grown to 16 varsity and seven junior varsity sports. With the help of the administration and the school’s Dads Club, the school now has a lighted football field, gymnasium, 440-yard track, and lighted baseball and softball fields.
Cavallaro not only built facilities at Clearwater Central Catholic, but a championship program as well. At the time of his induction, Clearwater Central Catholic had won 26 state championships, had been state runner-up 10 times, and had sent 64 teams to the state playoffs. All but two of these had been since 1976. The school also won the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Award for best athletic program for three consecutive school years, from 1977-78 through 1979-80.
Cavallaro enjoyed equal success as basketball coach. He won 335 games ---272 in Florida --- and his teams made the state playoffs four times. Central Catholic won the Class AA state championships in 1976 and was Class AA state runner-up in 1977. Cavallaro also coached the Southern squad to a 93-91 victory in the 1977 FHSAA North-South All-Star Game.
He is a charter member for the FIAAA and was a National High School Athletic Director of the Year nominee in 1982 and 1993. Cavallaro was inducted into the West Virginia University Physical Education Hall of Fame in 1993.
Cavallaro has served the FHSAA in hosting a number of state tournaments in softball, volleyball, and soccer. The gymnasium at Clearwater Central Catholic is named in his honor.
Cavallaro retired in 1994. He has four children: Dan, Jerry, Ted and Vicki.