BRISTOL - The cycle of sports coaching often creates new opportunities as others come to an end and that is precisely what happened for new St. Paul boys soccer coach Joe Campos.
Campos joined Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury as its head coach for the 2020 season, which ended up being the same year Sacred Heart would cease operations as a functioning school. Luckily for him, another NVL school had an opening at the helm of its boys soccer program and that is how Campos, finds himself in Bristol for the upcoming fall season.
“I’m excited to build from the bottom up,” Campos said. “These kids haven’t had the best seasons the past few years, but they’re willing to work towards being successful. I think based on our conversations, we have some kids returning back, we have some kids coming over from Sacred Heart, I think we’re going to be competitive right out of the gate. I’m familiar with the NVL, I’ve been around the area for a long time, so based on the kids that I’ve spoken with, I think we’re going to be competitive right away.”
Campos brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to Bristol and was named Connecticut Prep School Soccer Coach of the Year in 2019 after leading Chase Collegiate High School to a HVAL Championship and the semifinals of the New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class D tournament.
“We graduated just a handful of seniors and we have a young core group of talented, returning players who are excited about the upcoming season,” St. Paul Athletic Director Dave Dennehy said in a press release. “I am excited to welcome a new head coach whose soccer acumen and leadership will create a strong foundation for the program to excel for years to come.”
Making sure his players a receiving a quality education in the classroom is equally important, if not more important to Campos than their success on the field because he is set on preparing his student-athletes for their adult lives and that does not come from high school sports alone. He said he needs to be the coach of a school with strong academics first and foremost, which is why he saw St. Paul as a good fit for him.
“We want these kids to be set up for the future,” Campos said. “A lot of times people focus too much on athletics, but you have to build the foundation with academics as well. If you get a good student in the classroom, you usually get a good student on the field.”
St. Paul posted a 2-6 record last season before losing its final five games of the year because of a covid-exposure on the team. While he is not particularly familiar with the skill level of many of his players yet, he does have former Sacred Heart students that are yet to finish high school joining him at St. Paul.
Campos said his preliminary goals for the upcoming season are to compete in every game they play, qualify for the NVL tournament and the state tournament.
“We have enough returning upperclassmen, and with the kids coming over from Sacred Heart, I think those are goals that we should [reach],” Campos said. “Once I get to see the level of skill that some of these players have, I’ll be able to adjust and they’ll be able to develop and hopefully we can set the bar a little bit higher.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.