From Walk-On to Coach

If you have followed the Marist Men’s Soccer Team in recent years, the name Enzo Petrocelli should come to mind.

Enzo graduated from Marist in the fall of 2018 after competing as a walk-on on the soccer team under Coach Matt Viggiano. Prior to Marist, he had played at the highest levels as a teenager, training with youth academies in the Italian Serie A league, such as Empoli F.C. U-16, ACF Fiorentina U-18, and Atalanta B.C U-16.

At Marist, Enzo’s playing time was lacking compared to his previous experiences. Nonetheless, Enzo learned the game in the States, and was one of the more experienced players on the team. After obtaining his degree in Communications with a concentration in Sports Communication, Enzo is keeping his career inside the world of soccer, starting as an assistant soccer coach at Morristown-Beard, a private high school in New Jersey.

“It’s a very small world we live in and I knew a lot of people in New Jersey,” Petrocelli explained about the job. “My friend is actually the head coach of the team and he offered me the job because he wanted someone with a lot of background, and he felt that I would be a great asset to the team.”

There are many benefits for Enzo that accompany this job opportunity. It offers great pay for an assistant coach for a high school soccer team, and it is a year round job, meaning that the team will play during the fall and spring seasons. During the preseason, the team will get to go to Glasgow, Scotland to train at the team facilities at Celtic FC. Celtic is the most prestigious and historic Scottish team of all time, having won the Scottish Premiership 49 times, the Scottish Cup 38 times and the European Cup in 1967.

The trip is fully financed and the high school players, as well as the coaches, will wear Celtic practice gear when they train at their facilities. This opportunity offers just a taste of the possible future for these players as they have the potential to play at Division I schools, and maybe even make it to the MLS. When the season comes around, Morristown-Beard will then compete against other high schools from New Jersey, both the top private schools in their conference and public schools outside their conference.

Although this is the opportunity of a lifetime for a recent college graduate, Petrocelli still has other things on his mind. “Playing professionally is my ultimate goal,” he said. “But if I was to do well in coaching and a bigger opportunity were to show, I would love to coach academy, semi-pro, and if possible professional. I could train players individually, but I would love to grow as a coach if this opportunity pans out well, and I can see that as my career.”

Enzo had lots of people that helped him with his decision on taking this job. “It wasn’t until I got out of high school that people like my coaches, parents, and friends from Marist have told me that my knowledge of soccer is good, and that people with a high IQ in the sport can become a coach,” he said. “They told me that I should pursue that career if I could find the right job, which I did.”

As one of Marist’s Centers of Excellence, the sports communication program is high-profiled, and choosing that area of study ultimately helped Enzo determine his goals and aspirations for the future. “I am very fortunate of getting this chance in coaching,” Enzo said. “You need a lot of experience for a reporting job as well, especially in sports, but straight after graduating and getting this coaching job straight away for anyone is very hard. But it’s great for me as it’s still in my field of soccer.”

Edited by Meaghan Roche & Lily Caffrey-Levine

Header photo courtesy of Enzo Petrocelli

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