Coach Kalukiewicz eclipses incredible milestone of 400 wins


James McDermott

Coach Kalukiewicz is all smiles after his 400th victory.

James McDermott, Sports Editor

20 years, 20 preseasons, 20 regular seasons, 20 postseasons, 20 offseasons, and 20 wins per season. That is the formula necessary to win 400 games as a high school basketball coach, which explains why it is such a daunting task.

Westford Academy Girls’ Basketball Assistant Coach Bob Kalukiewicz achieved his 400th career win as a high school basketball coach on Friday, Jan. 13 in a home victory against Cambridge.

WA’s win over Cambridge was a hard-fought battle from start to finish. WA went down 19-10 in the first half but was able to chip away at Cambridge’s lead slowly. WA took the lead for the first time in the second half and never looked back, winning the game 37-33.

Coach Kalukiewicz is known as “Tones” to those in and around the Westford Academy Girls’ Basketball program. After coaching at Littleton for four years, Tones is now currently in his 20th season as the Varsity Assistant Coach, with over a decade of those years being under Head Coach Russell Coward.

“Tones” got into coaching when Paul Harhen, a friend of his and the Littleton basketball coach, asked him to help out as an assistant coach for Littleton High School. Harhen then became the coach at Westford Academy and brought Kalukiewicz along with him. Since then, Harhen has passed away and Coward has taken over as head coach.

When asked if anything about WA’s win over Cambridge felt like a fitting way to get his 400th win, “Tones” responded with an unbelievable answer. WA’s win against Cambridge on Jan. 13 marks the nine-year anniversary of Harhen passing away. It was truly a full-circle moment for Kalukiewicz to win his 400th game on the nine-year death anniversary of the coach and friend that introduced him to coaching and started his journey to 400 wins.

According to Coward, Kalukiewicz is the kind of coach who a team cannot function without. He is a voice of reason but also holds everyone accountable. He has a great perspective but is also very detail-oriented.

“Where I am particularly weak, Tones is extremely strong, so we complement each other very well,” Coward said. “We also see things the other person won’t. For example, I like to focus on certain things; sometimes I miss the bigger picture, and he helps me broaden the scope. Then there are times when I’m not detailed enough and he helps me think about certain things. So it’s a really nice balance.”

“Tones” is a huge reason why WA Girls’ Basketball has been such a DCL powerhouse ever since he arrived at Westford Academy, and he is also absolutely beloved by his players. Senior captain Alanna Saunders credits him with so much of the success WA Girls’ Basketball has had over the years.

“In my opinion, Tones is pretty much the person that holds the program together. He and Coach Coward have a very specific dynamic, and I don’t think the team would work the same without it,” Saunders said. “Tones operates more behind the scenes, doing a lot of scouting and film work for the players and providing us with insightful feedback mid-game. He takes responsibility for the well-being of his players, and he proves that year after year. Personally, I’m very grateful to have had him as a coach for the last four years, and he means the world to the team and to the program as a whole.”

Senior captain Ali Mammola shined a light on the consistency of “Tones” and his steady mentality. He is always calm in stressful situations and he can always make his players crack a smile during disappointing times.

The consistency of Kalukiewicz was mentioned by Coward, Saunders, and Mammola, and it was put on display more than ever before this season. Kalukiewicz retired last year and moved out to Las Vegas with his wife. Coward asked him before this season if he would come back to coach for one more season. Kalukiewicz then made the drive back from Las Vegas with his wife and two dogs and has been staying at his daughter’s house throughout the season.

This level of dedication to the team has helped him earn the respect of everyone around him. When asked if he is considering continuing his coaching career, Kalukiewicz did not count out a potential return.

“When the end of next year comes around, who knows, I might come back. I probably won’t drive back, but I might be back,” Kalukiewicz said.