Jared Scarpaci, 39, has dedicated his life to teaching and developing young soccer players. The Emerson men’s soccer head coach for the last 10 years has been training student-athletes at Emerson since 2003, and doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
“I can’t picture myself coaching at any other college than this college, to be honest,” he said. “Really, it’s the players. It’s the student body that would be really difficult for me to leave and go coach someplace else. I think it would be hard for me to compare the men that I have had and hope to continue to have with other schools.”
It is the type of student-athlete the college attracts that Scarpaci likes so much, and is the reason he enjoys coaching Emerson students.
“They are driven — whether it’s film, audio, theater, journalism, marketing,” Scarpaci said. “They want to be in [their field of study] and they want to succeed and a lot of that translates onto the field.”
As the director of the Massachusetts Olympic Development Program, Scarpaci has had the opportunity to work with other amateur players at a high level.
“You have teams from U13 to U17 boys and girls, and you try to get the best players in the state to filter them up to the national team,” Scarpaci said. “I have had a great experience with that, so I have got to see present and past kids in the national team program.”
Under Scarpaci, a Massachusetts native, the program has seen professional players Diego Fagundez, Charlie Davies and Geoff Cameron come up and feature in the U.S. national team.
Scarpaci currently holds a U.S. Soccer Federation National “B” License and an Advanced National Diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. These titles allow him to coach professionally all around the world, but he would prefer to develop and instruct up-and-coming players.
“I don’t know if I could coach at [professional] levels because I think there are other pressures that I have no desire to be a part of,” said Scarpaci, who was an assistant coach at Stetson University, Endicott College, and Wentworth Institute of Technology before coming to Emerson. “I was a Division I assistant coach before coming here and in Division I there is teaching, but I feel in Division III there is really a lot of development that goes on.”
Scarpaci said his brightest moments over the past 10 seasons have been watching his former players follow in his footsteps and begin coaching careers. His assistant coach, Francisco Javier Mejia, played under Scarpaci at Emerson and said Scarpaci is a big reason he is a coach today.
“Jared is the reason I am back,” Mejia added. “He gives me a lot of responsibility, which helps my professional growth.”
Scarpaci received his M.A. from Salem State University, where he was an assistant coach. He hit the ground running in his inaugural season with Emerson in 2003, taking the Lions to the semi-finals of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament.
After a rough start to the 2009 season, the Lions reached the GNAC championship game with Scarpaci at the helm.
“Making the GNAC finals a few years ago was an amazing time,” Scarpaci said. “We were 1-5, and then we caught wind, so it was nice.”
After the season ended, Scarpaci was named GNAC Coach of the Year for his team’s remarkable turnaround and tournament run.
“[Winning GNAC Coach of the Year in 2009] was great and it was humbling,” he said. “You are voted on by your peers, so it’s nice to be recognized by your peers that you did a good job.”
Scarpaci said his coaching success comes from his family and a system that accomplishes his overall goal of teaching his players about life.
“[My kids] go to bed at, like, 7:30, and I get home at about 8 or 8:30, so I don’t see my kids until the weekend, but my wife understands that this is a big part of who I am and that I love it,” Scarpaci said. “I definitely wouldn’t be able to do any of this if it wasn’t for my wife.”
Senior captain Juan Ossa described Scarpaci as an approachable coach who gives his players the tools to succeed with the proper amount of dedication.
“He actually knows the game, he knows his players, and he is a great motivator,” Ossa said. “He wants you to take responsibility for yourself, and I couldn’t see it any other way.”
The Lions are 3-6 this season, with another GNAC matchup against Emmanuel College on Saturday. Though Scarpaci said that his squad lost to the two best teams in the conference, it is hoping to build on last Saturday’s thrilling 2-1 win over Suffolk University.
Scarpaci said he and his staff teach soccer to make an impression that can be felt beyond the pitch.
“We use soccer as the vehicle to build character,” Scarpaci said. “Hopefully [the players] take some of these lessons that we have taught, down on the field and off the field, into their lives.”