Emanuele returning to coach Middletown boys soccer
Sal Emanuele is returning to Middletown High to coach its boys soccer team, a program he led to three consecutive state tournament berths earlier this decade.
Emanuele, 38, replaces Jon Harder, who resigned in December. The old/new coach already has met and spoken to players.
“I think the kids are excited and motivated to improve,” said Emanuele, who played the game at Xavier and Eastern Connecticut State. “I see a lot of excitement about the future. I have some ideas in mind of things I want to accomplish. We’ve (won) in the past and I’m looking to do that again going forward.”
Emanuele will have to extract the program from its current downturn. The Blue Dragons won six times in the 48 games that encompassed Harder’s three seasons as coach.
“I’m not going to dwell on the past. We’re not looking back. I’m looking forward,” he said.
Eight years ago Emanuele left Woodrow Wilson Middle School, where he coached and taught physical education and health, to teach and coach at Middletown High.
There, the program won three games in his first two seasons before his impact began to show. The Blue Dragons made leaps to 6-7-3, 9-4-3 and 12-2-2 in the 2012-14 regular seasons, although each ended with a first-round loss in the Class L tournament.
He left MHS to pursue a certification in administration and teach at Moody elementary. With his degree completed, timing took over. A position to teach physical education and health this fall opened up at Middletown High. He was hired for the position.
Harder subsequently resigned as coach before the new year, and Emanuele applied for and landed that position, too. All told, he’s been in the school system for well more than a decade.
Emanuele noted the familiar circumstance in which he finds himself. He took over a young team in 2010 that he molded into a winner a few seasons later. This fall, he will oversee another young crop of players who were 2-11-3 last year.
“It is a similar circumstance and obviously I’ve been there,” he said. “I’m going to use the same philosophy to bring the program back to where it should be.
“I accepted the position with some goals in mind — enhance the culture of the program and instill a team-first mentality. I want to bring structure, discipline and accountability. I want to get it to where it was in 2014. Once we get to the preseason, I’ll assess where we are.”
Emanuele mentioned there are good things happening in Middletown’s youth soccer programs