Father and Son, Together Again

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

Head coach Gene Ventriglia’s coaching staff welcomed a new name to Hawks Men’s Soccer, but not an entirely unfamiliar face.

New assistant coach Jimmy Ventriglia, Gene’s son, is no stranger to coaching under his father. After graduating from Colgate University in 2004, where he competed for the Raiders from 2000-01, Jimmy still wanted to integrate soccer into his life.

From 2004-08, Jimmy was an assistant coach at West Point for the women’s soccer team, the same team his father was the head coach for from 1985-2009.

“The last season he coached for me, we won the Patriot League Conference,” Gene said.  “He was a main reason we did so well.”

Jimmy views the time he spent coaching under his father at West Point as a time where he learned what it takes to be a successful soccer coach, he said.

“That experience taught me a lot about managing players, preparing practices, preparation for games, and the logistics of operating a soccer team,” Jimmy said.

After receiving his Master of Arts in teaching from New Paltz in 2008, Jimmy went on to teach history at Marlboro High School, where he also became head coach of the boys soccer team and led the team to an inaugural Mid-Hudson Athletic League title in 2011.

But when the opportunity presented itself to once again to assist his father, Jimmy didn’t think twice. The fact that he would be coaching alongside New Paltz graduate and former Hawks defender, Jamal Lis-Simmons, seemed to only sweeten the deal.

“Jamal and I have known each other forever and have been playing soccer for my dad since we were kids,” Jimmy said. “We understand how he runs things, and also what it’s like to be one of his players.”

Players are already seeing how the trio’s past rapport has added an advantage to their practices and play.

“I definitely think it’s beneficial having the two assistant coaches,” third-year midfielder Michael Levko said. “They grew up together, have good chemistry, and work well together. They know more about how the game is played today, where [Gene] is more traditional.”

Gene and his son also differ in terms of the level of the intensity expect of their players.

“I want my players to portray the type of player I was,” Jimmy said.  “We both preach intensity, but I do it to a greater degree. When I played, I left everything on the field, and that is what I demand.”

Both coaches agree the comparisons and contrasts of their father-son dynamic are only going to strengthen the program.

“It is the perfect situation for success in terms of a successful coaching staff,” Gene said, who believes that this year, the Hawks have the right attitude and culture as a team to compete aggressively against any team in their regular season matchups and make it into the play-offs.

After dropping their home opener to Vassar 3-1, the Hawks are hitting the road Sept. 7 – 8 for the Gary Smith Invitational at St. Joseph’s College (LI), where they will compete against the United States Coast Guard Academy and St. Joseph’s College or FDU-Florham.