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The Crimson

The student news site of Bernards High School

The Crimson

The student news site of Bernards High School

The Crimson

Boys soccer continues building Coach LaSpada’s legacy

Legendary Bernards soccer coach set to retire after the 2023 season.
Charlie Quinn
The soccer team has been treated to a fresh turf field during the 2023 season.

When someone hears the name, LaSpada, many things come to mind. Whether it be the gym teacher from your days at BMS or the name of your soccer coach from BHS or even the name of a loved one’s soccer coach from when they were in high school. Needless to say, Coach LaSpada has left a name for himself in a small town that will last for generations to come. At a certain point, though, all good things must come to an end, and after more than 300 wins as a coach, numerous championships, and countless hours teaching, Coach LaSpada is stepping down and retiring. 

The impact Coach LaSpada retiring has on the ‘23-’24 soccer team is truly recognizable. The team has won three out of their last four games, scoring a remarkable average of 2 goals per game. According to Assistant Coach Allen Thurlow, “The players also are playing very hard for him…they want to win another championship for the team to help his career end on a high note”. This mentality is what is driving them to be the best and push the limits in order to try and achieve a precious state title. With LaSpada’s final season being in play, these players understand more than ever that a win would mean more than a parade around the town; it would mean they get to finish a BHS Hall of Fame coach’s career in what feels like the most special way possible. It’s also evident from the player’s perspective as current player Fin Spitaleri states that “His care and dedication brings a real togetherness when we need it” showing that what LaSpada brings to the table is more than maybe a new drill to improve footwork, but he also brings togetherness and on a team, that is the most important thing of all. If there is no togetherness then there is no team. What LaSpada has done not only makes the team a good team, but a family, a family that will always look out for each other, on the pitch or not. This mental game is what makes our team stand out, whether it be drive or the idea of family, this BHS team is different.

Coach LaSpada has been coaching such a long time that it feels like everyone has some story that involves Coach LaSpada. Take Assistant Coach Thurlow, for example. Thurlow had played soccer throughout his childhood and continued playing into high school, it is there he says that, “I enjoyed playing soccer before meeting Coach [LaSpada], he made it something special for me”. Thurlow went on to talk about how he was partially shaped as a person by what LaSpada taught him, not only as a soccer player but as a human too. This is the legacy that LaSpada formed by what he did best, being kind and teaching kids not only how to be a good athlete who respects the rules, referees, and the ideals of sportsmanship, but also what it means to be a good person. Thurlow, who has played for LaSpada from ‘96-’00 and who has been a part of LaSpada’s coaching staff since ‘05, has been able to see what the impact LaSpada first hand as he sees former players in the stands of the Bernards games from time to time honoring that legacy that Coach LaSpada has built. Another perspective of the legacy LaSpada has built is the teaching aspect. Will Simpson, a current freshman, remarked, “Throughout my years at BMS, Mr. LaSpada always gave out discipline when needed while also being a kind and funny person”. This legacy that LaSpada has left seems like an endless flowing fountain of good memories and much much more. As shown, his legacy will stretch beyond more than just the soccer field, but the wooden floors of the BMS gym where Mr. LaSpada would teach kids what it meant to be a responsible person, among other things. This teacher really will leave a lasting impression on BMS and a lot of its graduates.

This season is just getting started, and it has the potential to be one of the brightest seasons BHS has ever seen. Get your popcorn folks, because this epic is just getting started.

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    Michelle ConoverOct 12, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    Great tribute!! I was around when he started the first ever soccer team!! (I was a manager!) What fun we had and LaSpada was so great!! What a legacy!!