Soccer Excellence: On and Off the Field
Eastern Massachusetts Girls Soccer Coaches Association Program of Excellence for High School teams
2018 Winners of the Inaugural Program of Excellence
Hopkinton High School (Hopkinton, MA)
Hull High School (Hull, MA)
Mansfield High School (Mansfield, MA)
Marshfield High School (Marshfield, MA)
Medway High School (Medway, MA)
Needham High School (Needham, MA)
Winchester High School (Winchester, MA)
Wilmington High School (Wilmington, MA)
The goal of the Eastern Massachusetts Girls Soccer Coaches Association (EMGSCA) is to recognize high school soccer excellence, on and off the field. Our region represents over 4,000 players on 200 different teams. Over 20 of our graduating players were off to NCAA Division I colleges across the country. Sam Mewis of the USWNT is one of our alumni players. With such great talent, it’s simple to define and recognize excellence on the field. Off the field we have been adding ways to recognize teams and players, like community service and sportsmanship.
This year we challenged high school teams to become Programs of Excellence, requiring them to show proof of commitment, player recognition, academic success, coaching education, community service, sportsmanship, and character. We had eight teams meet those criteria. When looking at the winners, not only did they excel off the field, they also excelled on it.
In Wilmington, coach Sue Hendee has taught in the district for 32 years and has been the head girls varsity soccer coach for 31. A member of the Massachusetts Coaches Hall of Fame and the 2018 winner of the United Soccer Coaches High School Coach of Significance Award, Coach Hendee also serves on the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association Soccer Committee and is the Vice-President of EMGSCA. Over the past eight years, Wilmington has won seven league titles, been a runner-up in the state final, and has graduated Notre Dame starter and national pool player Olivia Wingate. She is the embodiment of commitment to excellence. "In order for a program to be successful, a high level of commitment must be made by everyone involved. Players must be physically and mentally prepared and coaching staff must be willing to put in extra hours to help their players develop as individuals and a team. It is also essential that there is a balance of hard work and having fun. Several years ago, we established core values for the program which serve as reminders throughout the season as to the levels of commitment needed to be a part of a successful team," said Hendee.
On the South Shore, Marshfield has won four league championships in the past four years while having 14 players recognized as All-State or EMass All-Stars over that span. They also won the inaugural “Goal of the Year” in 2015. Coach Dom Centurino has constantly supported the well-deserved recognition for his own players, as well as nominating other players for the “Goal for the Year” award as well. “We have been so proud of our team’s accomplishments on and off the field and we appreciate this recognition; but it is the love of the game, team first attitude, and desire to be a positive influence that motivates us,” he said.
Hopkinton High School had a team grade point average of 4.0036. Beyond stellar academics, the team recorded a 13-3-6 record with 17 shutouts on their way to their first ever Division 2 South Championship in girls soccer. “Succeeding on the field and in the classroom is a significant challenge for student-athletes. Through hard work and commitment, we’re extremely proud that the team has excelled at both,” said coach Tom Skiba.
Winchester High School is the 2018 Division 2 State Champion in Massachusetts. Coach Rick Emanuel’s personal education in soccer is quite impressive, having earned his National, Advanced National, Premier, and Director of Coaching Diplomas. He also makes a point to attend the annual National Soccer Coaches conventions, as well as the EMGSCA Coaches Clinic at Boston University. Coach Emanuel invests his time to make his team better. “The game is always evolving and there’s always more to learn. I’ve always felt a responsibility to the players to make sure I stay as current as possible, so I’m grateful to organizations like United Soccer Coaches for giving us so many different opportunities to learn from one another and improve our understanding of the game,” he said.
Community Service is a part of many high school programs, but Needham High School has gone above and beyond the past several years. This year, they raised $28,348 dollars for Mass General’s Pediatric Department, which led directly to new TVs and DVDs in the pediatric oncology unit, holiday gifts and baskets for patients and families, wish granting for patients, support of the snack program for families at the hospital, and the back-to-school backpacks program. On top of that, they raised $5,150 for the American Cancer Society, bringing their five-year total for Making Strides to over $150,000. And they don’t just raise money, they get personally involved, such as players delivering the gift baskets. Coach Carl Tarabelli summed up the team’s approach, “Our mission regarding fundraising is three-fold. Raising money for the cause the girls select each year is only one component. Raising Awareness is the second, the girls wear warm-up shirts all season long dedicated to the cause. Pink warm-ups for Breast Cancer Awareness and Gold shirts for Pediatric Cancer Awareness. The third component is getting involved first-hand to see the direct impact that fund-raising can have. Over the years the NHS girls have cooked dinners for cancer patients and their caregivers at Hope Lodge, and delivered Christmas presents as part of the Adopt-A-Family program for pediatric cancer.”
Medway’s success has been astounding the past few years. Three state final appearances in the past five years, players committed to Syracuse and Providence College, plus they’ve won their last six league titles. They still achieve great sportsmanship, including hosting the EMass Pre-season Jamboree and hosting a Charity Day which had six teams raise $2,100 for the For Kid’s Sake Foundation. Coach Jay Rojee personifies sportsmanship, and his relationships with other league coaches proves it, “Each of the past five years we have held a joint practice post season with either Medfield or Dover Sherborn to help prepare each other for the tournament. I think the girls have really committed to being a part of the league and I think that shows great sportsmanship by all,” said Rojee.
Hull High School, at approximately 322 students in grades 9-12, is one of the smaller public schools in Massachusetts. Yet they have enjoyed their greatest success as of late, winning their first league title in 2017 and having their deepest tournament run to the Division 4 South Finals this past fall. Even with their on-field success, their Principal Nicole Nosek mentions their character, “They are positive role models in our school and exemplify exceptional leadership and character.” Principal Nosek also comments on how the team has volunteered more time than all of Hull’s other athletic programs combined and that they have continued to raise money for a scholarship fund in memory of a teammate lost in 2016. Coach Stew Bell adds, “When l told the girls about the Program of Excellence Award opportunity back in the fall, they were 100% on board. They were already planning on doing fundraisers for Emma Ryan's Memorial scholarship and the American Cancer Society. In the end we raised well over $5,000 for these scholarships and the players did all the work. They are wonderful people to be around. They compete hard in practice and games every day, but more importantly they are good citizens who believe in community and charitable work. As their coach, l am proud that they will be recognized for their accomplishments as they are a joy to coach and are great role models.”
To achieve this award, teams did not have to excel in one area or another. These teams had to excel in all areas. Take Mansfield High School for example: a consistent Division 1 power, Coach Kevin Smith is a member of both EMGSCA and United Soccer Coaches. Players were nominated for Player of the Month, Goal of the Year, Team MVP, and EMass All-Stars; the 27 players on varsity averaged a 3.62 GPA; Coach Smith attended the Convention for soccer education; the players volunteered with the Mansfield Columbus Day Soccer Cup and the Leaf Raking Project for Senior Citizens; they did not a get a red card all season; and a letter from Mansfield Principal Mary L. Watkins reflects upon the players participating in Peer Leaders for “A World of Difference”, Student Council, National Honor Society, and the Special Olympics. Coach Smith summed it up like this, “Our 19 seniors truly led by example over their four years and made a point to show excellence in all areas. They knew that the lessons taught and learned on the field should impact all parts of their lives.”
The inaugural EMGSCA Program of Excellence Award recipients not only found success on the field, but they led the way off the field. The attachment to their community, the leadership roles they hold in school, and the character they build in the grueling fall sports season is something difficult to replicate. With all this off the field success, the coaches and programs can also boast about their on-field success. Between the eight teams in 2018 they won one state championship, one regional championship, had two regional finalists, five league championships, four Second EMass Team All-Stars, seventeen First Team EMass All-Stars, seven All-State Players, and one All-New England Player. They also posted a combined record of 103-30-22 in the fall.
When reviewing these awards, one thing became clear. Teams that find success off the field appear to find success on the field.
The Eastern Massachusetts Girls Soccer Coaches Association represents over 200 schools and 4,000 players in Eastern Massachusetts. They have 143 active coaches in the organization, 88% of them are United Soccer Coaches Members. Website: www.emgsca.org @emgsca on Twitter.
Greg Rowe is a former High School Soccer Coach and current President of the EMGSCA. He won the 2013 and 2014 Coach of the Year awards for Massachusetts and EMass Division 4 respectively. He continues to teach at Rockland High School, coach the Bay State Games, and is a board member of the Middleborough Youth Soccer Association.
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