There are many reasons head coach Seamus O’Connor hired his former colleague, Keith Cappo, to join him as assistant coach this coming fall.
The most important one may stem from what Cappo has accomplished off the field.
“He’s been a very successful math teacher,” O’Connor said. “So he knows how to teach. And in this environment, the way our sport is going, you end up having to teach a lot more. He knows how to communicate with the players, and has a vast range of tools that he can use to help educate our players.”
O’Connor and Cappo are no strangers to each other. From 2008 through 2009, Cappo served as an assistant under O’Connor for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Chestnut Hill College, and played a key role in helping the Griffins transition from Division III to Division II.
Cappo’s coaching style is dependent on research and staying up-to-date with the various analytics involved in what can be a complex game. He believes that between teaching and coaching, there are numerous similarities.
“A coach is a teacher,” Cappo said. “Know that going into it that your [players] are going to have questions, and it’s good they have questions. To really focus on the game, give them opportunities, use technology to help them learn, watch game film, and go through different things like team building.”
Just like each student learns differently in the classroom, Cappo thinks players learn concepts differently on the field.
“Some girls do well being shown, some girls do well being told,” Cappo said. “Some girls do well teaching themselves…Each girl is going to be different, but broadening how we teach the game, and using different kinds of on-the-field and off-the-field activities to help them see [those concepts], that’s the exciting thing for me.”
One of the challenges Cappo faces in his new role this fall is the jump from Division II to Division I athletics. He also joins O’Connor in Temple’s second season in the American Athletic Conference, a much stronger level of competition according to RPI rankings than the Owls’ old conference, the Atlantic 10.
O’Connor has noted that the American Athletic Conference is strong because of “higher level athletes” across the board. Cappo sees his climb from Division III to Division I in quite a similar manner: Division I teams often draw their players from better high school and youth programs, something not seen as frequently at the lower levels of college soccer.
However, O’Connor feels that the promotion will actually help Cappo in terms of lessening workload.
“Going up to Division I is funny, in that your job is a lot easier,” O’Connor said. “You have so many resources as a coach… in Division II, you’re a jack-of-all trades, so here, it’s going to allow him to do more of what he’s good at: on-the-field education, scouting video of opponents, coming up with game plans.”
Cappo’s knowledge of the sport derives not from just coaching since 2004, but an extensive playing career. He competed at William Penn Charter School before becoming a four-year starter at the Catholic University of America, which culminated in him making the Capital Athletic Conference team his senior year.
Because Cappo’s life has been engrossed in the sport, O’Connor senses his assistant will probably climb even higher in the coaching ranks.
“I don’t even know how long I’ll have him for,” O’Connor said. “It’s not going to be long until he becomes a head coach himself.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.