Muzzi has decided to hang up his skates.
After 39 years behind the bench at Belmont High School as an assistant and then head coach instructing thousands of athletes, Dante Muzzioli – better known by generations of players, parents and fans as Muzzi – has announced that this year will be his final season at Belmont High School.
"It's time that someone new can help the program move forward," an emotional Muzzioli said in his familiar rough baritone.
He said it will take a great amount of time and effort to assist in turning around a program that has seen interest wane in the past few years. This year, about 30 players have signed up for the coming season where just a few years ago that number was double.
In a competitive environment as the Middlesex League – dubbed by the Boston Globe as one of the toughest public school leagues in the country – it will require someone to spend a great amount of time stoking interest in the program from the youth hockey level to the high school level.
For Muzzioli, other ventures are taking up more of his time and balancing business and coaching "is something that is much tougher now to do then it was 20 years ago," he said.
This April, Muzzioli opened a successful ice cream shop and eatery at the corner of Belmont Street and Trapelo Road. His contracting business – he just completed the renovation of the former location of Frankie's Catch of the Day into a Quebrada Baking Co. location – and long-running landscaping business continue to grow.
Yet the decision to step aside for a new generation to take the helm of Marauder hockey was a heartbreaking one, said Muzzioli.
"It was never about the wins and losses. It was about the relationships with the players. To take the talents the kids brought and get everything you could out of them as players and as young men," said Muzzioli.
Muzzioli said he would have retired a decade ago if it wasn't for the thousands of student athletes over the past nearly five decades that he led as an assistant and then head coach in Belmont.
"I get emotional when I think about leaving because what I'll miss most is teaching the game," he said.