Emanuele re­turn­ing to coach Mid­dle­town boys soc­cer

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - Sports - By Paul Augeri

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

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