Sports Person of the Week
Parisella Ready to Get Going as New Boys’ Soccer Coach
Program alum John Parisella is gearing up to begin his first season as the head coach of the North Haven boys’ soccer squad. (Photo courtesy of John Parisella )
For more than three decades, John Parisella has been a soccer coach in North Haven. After spending the past four seasons as an assistant coach, John was recently named the new head coach of the North Haven boys’ soccer team.
John knows all about the North Haven boys’ soccer program, having been a four-year member of the team before graduating in 1980. Now, John is getting ready to lead the squad onto the pitch as North Haven’s head coach this fall.
“Timing wise, it’s good. My son is graduating from Hamden High School. He is off to college, and my two other children are grown up and out of school. It was a good time for me to refocus, dig in, and really get going on this project,” says John, who lives in Hamden. “It will be a nice challenge for me to put my own spin on the program. I’m sad to see [former Head Coach Reid Chieffo] go, but I’m excited for the opportunity.”
When current North Haven Athletic Director Steve Blumenthal was in high school, John served as one of his soccer coaches. Once the head coaching position opened up, Blumenthal asked John if he was interested in applying for the job.
“As the assistant coach for four years, it was a natural direction. Steve and I have known each other for quite a while, and he was pleased with the job that we were doing,” John says. “He asked me about my interest, and I was interested. We went through the official interview process, and here we are.”
Blumenthal is excited to have someone with John’s vast amount of experience at the helm of the boys’ soccer program. Blumenthal says that he’s looking forward to seeing the kind of culture that John plans on building at North Haven.
“Coach Parisella brings a wealth of coaching experience and knowledge to the North Haven boys’ soccer program,” says Blumenthal. “We are excited to have Coach Parisella instill a competitive culture in which players are held accountable in all aspects of their experience. We look forward to Coach Parisella getting started.”
John played numerous sports while growing up in North Haven, including basketball, baseball and, of course, soccer. As a 3rd-grader, he was part of first wave of players to play for the North Haven Soccer Club (NHSC) when it began in the 1970s.
Of all the sports that John played, soccer was the one that stuck with him the most.
After playing for North Haven High School, John attended Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU), where he was a member of the men’s soccer team for four years. John says that the friendships he made through his experiences of playing in both high school and college taught him all about what it means to be part of a team.
“In high school, you’re developing friendships. You’re playing with your close friends. In college, it’s almost not even a sport. You’re living and playing with these guys every day. Playing and traveling and sharing a locker room, I’ve made some of the closest friends I have today,” says John. “The camaraderie, the team, and coming together as a group is something I try to instill in the players. It’s not about me, it’s not about you. It’s about us, and we’re going to grow together.”
Stepping on the field and practicing with his team has always been a big part of John’s coaching approach. John feels that everything he gained from playing soccer has helped him grow in the coach’s role through the years.
“I like to be able to get out on the field and demonstrate what I’m teaching. It’s getting a little tougher, but I can still do it,” John says. “It’s an important part of my coaching, that I can actually go out and practice what I preach. I like showing the kids the difference in different techniques. I’ve always been a firm believer in demonstrating what I can teach.”
After graduating from ECSU in 1984, John became a varsity assistant and the head coach of North Haven’s JV boys’ soccer team under varsity Head Coach Joe Janush in 1985. In the late ’90s, John became a coach with the NHSC, coaching teams anywhere from the U-10 to the U-23 level. John has served as the director of coaching for the NHSC for the past 15 years and was named the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association Coach of the Year in 2019.
“You learn how to manage kids, manage time, manage practices, manage parents. I was doing a lot of the stuff that has become really important in the high school circuit,” says John of his experience with the NHSC. “I was managing kids’ behavior, their attitude, their conduct on the field, their responsibility to the game. All of that over the years has helped me become the coach and representative of North Haven that I’ve become.”
As he steps into the head coaching role with North Haven, John says that his athletes can expect a coach who is prepared, organized, is going to continue teaching the game the right way, and who has high expectations. In turn, John is expecting his athletes to put in the necessary work and compete their hardest in each practice and every game. Going forward, John is looking for North Haven qualify for both the SCC Tournament and the State Tournament.
With more than 30 years of coaching experience, John is ready to take the reins as head coach of the North Haven boys’ soccer team. As he strives to help North Haven rise up the ranks, John says that there is no other place where he would be rather be coaching.
“This is like the last step of my career at my age. I’m not looking to get a college job. To really settle in and really turn this program around is my focus,” John says. “I’m not looking to go anywhere but here. This is where I was born and raised and where I played the game first. It just feels right.”