It’s not often that athletes have pre-existing relationships with first-year coaches who are hired from outside of the program. Most often, players and coaches need at least a year or two to establish an understanding of the expectations the two sides have for each other.
Monomoy Regional High School athletic director Karen Guillemette is hopeful the school’s field hockey team will be able to hit the ground running in the fall under Kyle Cappallo, who Guillemette recently announced as Monomoy’s new field hockey coach. He replaces Kathryn Andreolli, who guided the Sharks to the Division 4 state semifinal during her only year at the helm.
“Cappallo has been instrumental in growing the sport of field hockey on Cape Cod through his clinics and the Cape Cod Field Hockey Club, which he owns with his wife Courtney,” Guillemette said. “He has been involved in field hockey coaching and player development for nearly two decades. His positive approach to coaching and focus on building relationships and developing quality players will be an asset to the Monomoy field hockey program.”
Cappallo and his wife first launched the Cape Cod Field Hockey Club in 2013 with the goal of offering instructional clinics to kids around the Cape. At the time, there weren’t options for middle school and younger players.
“We started some instructional clinics and expanding out to other locations and it just kind of grew from there,” said the 46-year-old Cappallo, a Barnstable resident. “About two or three years into that process, we got into competitive travel teams and started expanding off-Cape. I believe today we’re in at least five locations from Providence to Braintree out to Eastham — we’re the primary club for that geography.”
Both Cappallos have been familiar with the sport for decades. Courtney played at Villanova University, where she met Kyle, who played ice hockey for the Wildcats.
Although coaching at Monomoy will be a new chapter for Cappallo, he’s hardly green when it comes to leading teams. Ever since the couple’s club started fielding travel teams, Cappallo would coach whichever under-14, under-16 or under-19 team showed the most promise.
And while most of high school field hockey coaches across the state are females, Cappallo said he’s never struggled to establish connections with his players.
“Even though I’m the individual authority, it’s really much more of a partnership with the players,” he said. “That’s how I’ve always viewed it. Whether or not it’s a male or female coach I think is far less relevant than my style and the way that I connect with players individually.”
Cappallo said he hopes his past experience will pay dividends once he gets started at Monomoy, adding that he’s plenty familiar with the Sharks, both young and old.
“I would say amongst all of the high schools on Cape Cod, there are more Monomoy players that I have coached or that have participated with the club than any other high school,” Cappallo said. “I think, at loose count right now, there’s probably six to eight players that are either on varsity or perhaps will be next year that I have coached.”
One recent Monomoy players Cappallo previously worked with is Caroline DiGiovanni, a three-time Cape and Islands League Most Valuable Player who is set to graduate in the spring.
“Caroline DiGiovanni was a player that I coached starting from the under-14 who had a lot of success with Monomoy,” Cappallo said.
Others include Holly Evans and Alison Barret.
“There’s been other players that were always on the top team through our club, so I had the benefit of working with them for multiple years, and then there are some younger players that were on Monomoy’s JV or were younger players on varsity last year,” he said.
While Cappallo takes over Monomoy’s budding program with some familiarity and pre-existing relationships in place, he recognizes that there are other girls who will be meeting him for the first time.
So what can they and the rest of the Cape’s field hockey landscape expect from Cappallo at Monomoy?
“My approach is probably a little different than some of the other coaches on the Cape, mainly because the style of hockey we’re going to play is going to be a lot different,” he said. “It’s probably more similar to what you would see at the collegiate level. In order to make the system work well, all of the players have to have proficiency and command of the fundamentals — that’s something that has really made the club program so successful.”
While the club will remain a constant presence in Cappallo’s life, he is quick to point out Monomoy players won’t be forced to train with or play for the club.
“My role as the high school coach is very much separate from my role with the club,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me whether you play for me or play for a different club or play in your basement, it’s all irrelevant to me.”
Cappallo added that his evaluations will come during the fall when Monomoy comes together for tryouts.
“When the fall comes and we begin evaluating the players, we’ll see who are the players that can contribute to the program, both varsity and JV, who are the most coachable players and who are the ones that are the best fit for the system we’re going to play,” he said.
Cappallo said he planned on meeting with Monomoy parents at some point this week to introduce himself and conduct a Q&A session. Although there is still more than six months remaining until the start of the season, the new Sharks coach said he’s happy to land in a community that embraces field hockey as much as Monomoy does.
“They are very supportive of their athletics programs and the athletic department has always been very supportive of the athletes,” Cappallo said. “I’m excited to be a part of it. I feel privileged that out of all of the schools, the opportunity presented itself at a school with a rich tradition of really caring and investing, from the parents in the community all the way down to the players. I’m really eager to be a part of the community.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal