Richard Cusano: The Man Behind the E-Mails


Does this e-mail subject line look familiar to you?

Many students at Marist know Richard Cusano as the guy who sends out a bunch of emails to students when there is someone in need of a tutor. However, for 18 years, Cusano has been much more to Marist than that. Cusano is the lead assistant coach for the Marist College men’s soccer team, and for the last 15 years, he has also been the Coordinator of Tutoring at Marist. 

Before becoming an assistant coach, Cusano played for the men’s soccer team from 2001-2004. He was a standout midfielder/forward who accomplished much on the soccer field playing for the Red Foxes. 

In 2003 and 2004 he was named to the MAAC All-Academic Team and was also named the MAAC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 14, 2003. He managed to play in every game over his four years on the team, totaling four goals and six assists. In his last season, he was fortunate to be a starter on the 2004 team that won the MAAC Championship. 

Despite graduating from Marist in 2005, Cusano stayed close to the school and the men’s soccer program. He remained a graduate student working in the athletic department as an academic advisor. Due to his strong relationship with Marist’s previous men’s soccer coach Bobby Herodes, Cusano became an assistant coach for the soccer team. 

In 2007, when then-assistant coach Matt Viggiano took over as head coach, he decided to keep Cusano as an assistant coach. Viggiano felt strongly that Cusano would make a smooth transition to coaching because of the skills he displayed as a player. 

“He’s one of those guys that could see the whole field and understood the game and so it was kind of seamless for him to move from being a player to a coach,” said Viggiano. “Because a lot of times it’s the hardest thing to do when you become a coach is not [to] look at the game as a player anymore. It’s a very difficult transition. Some guys can’t even do it. But he was able to do that pretty well.”

One of the things that Viggiano appreciates about Cusano is although they seem the game the same way, their personalities and coaching styles are quite different.

“He’s also kind of a counterweight to me. I mean, we have very different personalities, actually, he’s a little more reserved. I can sometimes be a little more emotional, he’s pretty quiet, as opposed to like, I’m the exact opposite of that,” Viggiano said, adding “we strike a good balance.”

The year he started working with Viggiano was also the same year Cusano was offered the job to be the Coordinator of Tutoring at Marist College. After working his way up by running the study hall for student-athletes, working in the Academic Learning Center, the student-athlete enhancement center, and finishing graduate school where he got his MBA, Cusano had a chance to take on another new challenge.

What attracted him to the position was his ability to help students. 

“We deal a lot with undeclared students or students, who are not sure about their major. So that always kind of stood out to me [as] a great way to help somebody who is confused. They don’t know what they want to do, and obviously, offering them and showing them all the options that Marist has [to offer] always is a great thing for me,” said Cusano. 

He takes great pride in the fact that his job and department allow him to help students, “That’s just what brings us joy is helping some students figure out what they want to do, you know, academically and then obviously career-wise when they’re done here at Marist,” said Cusano. 

Apart from his work with the men’s soccer team, Cusano also has his hands full being the coordinator of tutoring, and teaching classes at Marist.

“It’s a lot between the tutoring, I meet with over 1,000 students every year for tutoring, and I also teach career planning class,” said Cusano. “I teach three or four classes every semester for career planning. And then obviously with soccer, game planning, scouting the other teams that we’re playing, and then I do most of the recruiting [which] is on the weekend. It’s very busy, but I have a schedule, [and] I manage my time really well.”

One of the main purposes of a college education is to prepare students for the real world, which happens to be Cusano’s passion as an educator.

“I love that class because I think that class is like the most practical class any student can take here at Marist,” said Cusano. “We do a lot of practical stuff like resume writing, cover letter writing, interviewing skills. So a lot of stuff that’s practical that you need to be an adult right? And for the real world, so that’s why I love teaching that class.” 

With that being said, Viggiano is very grateful for the time that Cusano puts in for the team. 

“Nobody’s more thankful than me for what he brings to the table,” the Marist head coach said. “He loves this place so much and loves what he does. He puts in more time than could ever be asked. He’s not paid for the hours he puts in. There’s no doubt about that. Believe me, I know I’m lucky to have him.” 

In the midst of all that, Cusano also has a family at home and somehow manages to find time to coach his son’s soccer and baseball teams. 

Since Cusano has been with the Men’s soccer team for such a long time, first as a player and now as an assistant coach, he has achieved a lot and has been a part of some very successful teams. But for him, the moment that sticks out the most was last year when Marist beat Rider at home in a penalty shootout in the MAAC Title game. 

“Last year, obviously was unbelievable winning the championship at home. That’s something that I never experienced as a player. We won it my senior year but it was on the road. So it was a little bit different,” said Cusano. “It was a long gap between when we last won and when we won it last year, so last year definitely stood out.”

However, besides the big moments like this, just being with the team is what motivates Cusano to work this busy schedule every day, “Just the day-to-day like the bus rides with the guys, being around the guys all the time, that’s what’s fun to me,” he said. 

For Cusano, it’s abundantly clear that his love for Marist College runs deep. It’s been that way for quite a long time. 

“When I came on a recruiting visit it was in March of 2001, my father told me he goes, ‘if you don’t go here, I’m going here.’” said Cusano. “So that kind of always stuck out to me, and this place [has] treated me great, [with a] soccer scholarship, undergrad scholarship, [it] helped pay for my grad school, and then I’ve been working here ever since. 

“I got nothing but good things to say about Marist treating me well. And I kind of want to give that experience to other students that come through here.” 

“You can’t walk around campus and talk to anybody who doesn’t respect him,” said Viggiano. “From the academic side of things to the athletic side of things. He’s an upstanding good human being, [he] kind of fits the mold that I think would always be talked about Marist-type people, he’s willing to do things for others, and he works his butt off. He’s respectful he’s everything you want a son to be.” 

It’s rare that you’ll find someone who loves a school so much, that they are willing to spend so much of their life doing things on behalf of a college. For Richard Cusano, it all started back in 2001 when he first got a glimpse of the campus. Twenty years later he’s still here working tirelessly to help students both academically and on the soccer field.

Edited by Isabella Cicinelli and Jonathan Kinane

Photo from Marist Athletics

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