The farthest was London.

In the first 48 hours since Dave Troiano, the winningest high school girls' basketball coach in South Jersey history, announced his retirement, his phone had been ringing so much he'd lost count of exactly how many coaches and current and former players had reached out to him.

"But the farthest was a former player in London. I said, 'Now I'm getting international calls,' " Troiano said with a laugh. "I couldn't believe it."

At 70, Troiano said it wasn't written in stone that he would announce his retirement before this season.

But as the season drew closer, and his reflection grew deeper, he said he just felt it.

"And I told myself, once I made up my mind that was it," he said.

And so he wrote up a letter and, in a final, classy gesture, drove it to Wildwood High School on Monday and formally submitted his resignation to the school where he began coaching in the 1977-78 season. His successor has not been announced.

Thirty-nine seasons at one school and a career record that stands at 682-326. Four state titles. Nine sectional titles, including last year's South Jersey Group 1 crown.

He was one of South Jersey's rocks, a steady presence. An influence on hundreds of young lives, creating a network that in 39 years has apparently spread globally.

And so that final day at school, holding his resignation letter, was fitting.

"They brought all the players in to greet me," Troiano said. "At that point, all you want to do is get out of the building. I was trying to hold it all in emotionally.

"That was the toughest part. It was an emotional day, but a really special day."

The fact that he made a point to keep his emotions in check was classic Troiano.

And when he talks about what it takes to be a successful high school coach — his secrets to success — he talks about stability and continuity and always being prepared.

"I just think that there's a difference between having a team and having a program," he said. "You have certain principles, certain ways of doing things, and you stick to it. You're going to have years when things aren't going to go your way, but after a while winning becomes a habit.

"And I think everyone would agree, even though we've won a lot of sectionals in other sports, that Wildwood is a basketball town. And so I always got that support from everyone involved. And that was our program. It was as coaches, year in and year out, we're going to be here for you, and you're going to be here for us, too."

It was a formula that helped generate more wins for Troiano than any other coach in area history, a milestone he's humble about. "I always say, when you've been around as long as I have, you better have won some games by now, and really the kids are the ones who get you the accolades anyway."

But he also helped author some of the most memorable chapters in South Jersey history. His teams in the early 2000s, led by Monica Johnson, were electric. With Johnson at the helm, the team won two state titles and was known as a giant killer, regularly standing toe-to-toe with bigger — both in numbers and in actual size — teams.

But, even though he still smiles thinking back to those games and those moments, that's not what he'll remember most, Troiano said.

"I just enjoyed being with the players. I enjoyed spending time with my fellow coaches," said Troiano, who retired from teaching at Wildwood in 2007. "And that's what really kept me going. We were fortunate to win four state titles. But toward the end, I just enjoyed being there, and I really didn't worry about the wins and losses.

"Coaching keeps you young."

When he first started, Troiano would seek out advice from other coaches.

Former Villanova coach Jack Kraft, who lived in Stone Harbor, would often spend time with him and his team. He became a mentor for Troiano.

There were some lessons, of course, he couldn't use.

"I remember he would sometimes draw up plays and tell me I should have the team run it," Troiano said, and he laughed with nostalgia. "I would look at the plays, and they were so complex. I would say, 'Jack, we're a high school team. There's no way we're running this.'

"But I would pick his brain for hours. And I would think, 'This man has 300 Division I wins. If I can't learn from him, I can't learn from anyone."

And when he thinks about it, Troiano can see himself taking on a role like Kraft's. He'll still be around Wildwood, attending boys' and girls' games. He'll lend advice to anyone willing to listen. He'll be a sage, offering wisdom, setting examples of the right way to coach and how to run a program.

And in that sense, as far as the broader South Jersey community is concerned, Troiano's role really might not change that much after all.

"I'll be around. I'll be doing something," Troiano said. "I'm just thankful to have had the opportunities I've had. But it's the kids. I always say that. It's the kids who kept me going. And it's the kids who got me the accolades. I was fortunate to be around so many wonderful kids over these last 39 years. And I truly mean that."