Coach of the Month: Coach Jon DeNunzio

Each month we feature one ASA coach to learn more about his or her background and personal story and this month we’re featuring Coach Jon!

What programs do you coach at ASA and how long have you been coaching with our club?

I am one of three coaches of the Dragon Outlaws in the sixth-grade girls’ rec league. Really, my co-coaches Brian Anderson and Kevin Boyle should be sharing in this honor. I just have more orange cones than them.

Here’s a pic of me and a bunch of the Dragon Outlaws this spring. It was the day after my birthday and they made me wear a crown.

When did you begin coaching? What got you interested?

I first tried coaching when I was in high school, coaching U-9s (maybe they were U-10s) with my friend Clay Asbury in the Midlothian (Va.) Youth Soccer League. Here’s a photo, I’m the coach on the right. We all wore shorts like that back then, I swear.

I also coached a women’s rec team (D.C. Blues) in the Washington Area Women’s Soccer League back in the late ‘90s.

And I started coaching in the ASA rec league when my oldest daughter, JJ, joined the Dolphin Fire Lions (mostly Samuel Tucker Elementary School kids) as a first grader in 2013. I’ve been an assistant, co-coach or head coach for her team since then.

What is one of your favorite things about coaching for ASA?

If I have to list one thing, it’s the relationships that form and grow. To be more specific:

  • As a coach and a parent, spending time with both my daughters, JJ and Ellie, at practices, games and in the car on the way to/from practices and games is really special.
  • I’ve loved interacting with the players as they have grown up and become more skillful and confident on the field, and more mature young people off it. Some of them even still listen to my coaching tips.
  • I have had way too many laughs with my fellow coaches over the years. I mentioned Brian and Kevin above, but also Stewart Jarrett, Bob Paduchik, Leo San Roman, Jeff Powers and Shawn Berta. Good times.

Where did you grow up and what’s your favorite soccer or sports memory from your childhood?

We moved several times, but I attended eighth grade and high school in Midlothian (a Richmond suburb), and that’s where I got hooked on soccer.

I played goalie a lot back then. For my favorite soccer memory, I could mention winning the Fall 1982 Greenfield Soccer League championship, but instead let’s go with the time I made a save and proceeded to punt the ball into the back of one of my defenders. That defender (Dave Delia) still brings it up to this day.

When you’re not coaching what do you like to do in your free time?

I still play soccer — indoor on Friday nights and outdoor on Sundays in the spring and fall! Here’s a pic of my outdoor team, Far Post, from this spring

(I’m top left — and I no longer play goalie, so I can’t punt the ball into any of these folks’ backs).

Who’s your soccer hero and why?!

Italian soccer legend Roberto Baggio. He was one of the best players in the world in the 1990s, but he’s best known for missing a penalty kick vs Brazil in the 1994 World Cup final.

The 1994 World Cup is the reason he’s my hero. I’d say he was the tournament’s best player, he scored five goals, and Italy would have never made the final without him. But sometimes in life you give your absolute best and still fall short. That’s a tough but important lesson to learn, and Baggio has always handled his failure with grace.

(Baggio after missing the penalty kick, which clinched the World Cup for Brazil)

And finally….give us one fun fact about yourself.

Since I coach a sixth-grade team, I will share this: I won a writing award in sixth grade for my futuristic take on the literary classic, “The Three Little Pigs.”

Thank you Jon! Your enthusiasm and commitment to your girls are part of what makes our rec league so successful! Good luck to the Dragon Outlaws this season.

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