DAPHNE, Ala. — United States Sports Academy alumnus Nelson Cupello is among the nation’s top 10 active junior college men’s soccer coaches in career wins and has been a National Coach of the Year, but he is quick to point out that coaching is about far more than wins and losses.
“Coaching gives you great satisfaction because you get a chance to make an impact on young people’s lives and you get the opportunity to help them become good citizens and good people,” Cupello said.
“I have had the opportunity to help many students over the years and it feels great.”
Cupello, 64, has served as men’s soccer coach at Monroe Community College (MCC) in Rochester, N.Y., for 26 years. With a record of 339-124-34, he ranks among the nation’s top 10 in wins among active coaches in men’s junior college soccer.
Cupello credits his education at the United States Sports Academy with allowing him to pursue the profession he loves — coaching — in the place he loves, his hometown of Rochester, N.Y.
“My master’s degree from the United States Sports Academy enabled me to stay employed as a collegiate head coach,” Cupello said.
“I had an undergraduate degree, but I needed more knowledge in coaching and I wanted to learn more about administration as well. I took classes in administration, sport science and coaching, and I think it was tremendous. It really opened my eyes.
“At the United States Sports Academy, I had professors who were from all over the world and they had a wealth of knowledge. The faculty went well went beyond what you learned in the book,” Cupello added.
“The Academy’s professors had lifetime experience and they had worked in the field. They were professionals who had experience, and I think that is key to teaching.
“My degree from the Academy also gave me an opportunity to meet people who became coaches and I have been able to work with these people throughout my career. In fact, there are coaches at four-year schools I met through the Academy who recruit my players when they finish their two-year degree, and these same coaches also call me to provide assistance in finding spots for players who need a two-year school. The Academy really helped me develop these types of great relationships.”
Born in Brazil, Cupello and his family moved to Rochester, N.Y. when he was child. He played soccer throughout his youth and became an All-American defender at MCC in Rochester. He then transferred to the four-year State University of New York at Brockport in 1973. He played two seasons there, including on Brockport’s 1974 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III National Championship team, where he was a third-team All-American. After graduating in 1975, Cupello played professional soccer for five years with the Rochester Lancers of the North American Soccer League and three years for the Rochester Flash of the American Soccer League, retiring from professional play in 1983.
Cupello served as an assistant coach with the MCC men’s soccer team from 1978 to 1984. After retirement from playing professionally, he moved full time into coaching when in 1985 the State University of New York at Fredonia hired Cupello as its head coach. In his five seasons there, he took the team to the NCAA tournament four times, including two trips to the semifinals. He said that as he worked at Fredonia, he pursued his master’s degree at the United States Sports Academy to heighten his chances of staying in college coaching long-term as a career. He received his Master of Sports Science in sports coaching from the Academy in 1989 and was named head men’s soccer coach at MCC the next year.
During has 26 years at MCC, Cupello has been named National Junior College Athletic Association (NCJAA) Region III Coach of the Year 14 times and Northeast District Coach of the Year three times, leading the MCC Tribunes to the regional title 11 times. In 2012, Cupello led MCC to an 18-1-1 record and a third-place finish at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament. He was named the 2012 Junior College National Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and is a member of the NCJAA Coaching Hall of Fame.
Cupello estimates he has coached more than 1,500 student athletes throughout his career.
“I have stayed with coaching because I like the day-in and day-out contact with the students,” Cupello said. “You influence them and you have a great effect on them.
“I think sports teach young people discipline and the ability to communicate and work with people. Everyone on the field has to be on the same page to be successful, and that is also important in life.
“Several of my former players are in coaching at the high school and collegiate levels and that make me feel like I’ve done something right. In fact, my middle son is a coach, and I believe it is paramount to be able to get young people into a profession that they enjoy.
“Coaching has provided me with a great quality of life and I have had the opportunity to help many students over the years. It feels great to know we had an impact on their lives.”
Based in Daphne, Ala., the United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, regionally accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.