Lakeside graduate Colucci is elevated to Birmingham South football head coach | Sports

About 10 years ago, Anthony Colucci found himself at a crossroads.

The 2010 Lakeside grad and two-time Ashtabula County Lineman of the Year was nearing the end of his college football career at Capital University.

It had been a career cut short by a broken leg that redirected him from zone blocking to sitting in the press box to help his team upstairs.

By the time he was about to graduate, however, football seemed to be over and Colucci’s nursing degree from Capital would be his future.

That changed, however, when one of his coaches told him about an opening for an entry-level coach at Center College in Kentucky.

“He told me they had an opening for a rookie coach and he thought I would be a good fit,” Colucci said of the possibility.

Of course, accepting the job at the Center would be a substantial pay cut from what he had planned to do for his career.

“Entry-level training for a small college isn’t exactly financially stable, especially when Option A was to be a nurse,” Colucci said with a laugh.

Colucci, who was recently elevated to head coaching position at Birmingham Southern, decided to call home to have a chat with his parents…a conversation any recent college graduate considering a career that pays far less than the one he went to school for. , would be quite nervous to have.

“I called my mum and dad for advice,” he said. “One of the best pieces of advice my dad gave me was that I could become a nurse and stay a nurse for the rest of my life and that would be good.

“But, you can try coaching and you never know what might come of it. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but at least you won’t spend the rest of your life wondering what what would have happened.”

Colucci took dad’s advice and what happened is remarkable.

From a rookie assistant at Centre, Colucci, who had to work in a hospital at weekends to make ends meet, became Birmingham Southern’s attacking coordinator and last week was promoted to head coach.

“It was an honour,” he said after being appointed to the post. “I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and to know the right people. It’s a big part of college football, but it’s an incredible honor.

Colucci may have been in the right place at the right time, but what makes his trip so amazing is that it was something he never really planned.

“To be honest, I never really had coaching on my radar. I had every intention of becoming a nurse,” he said. “When I was playing at Capital, I figured I’d stay in the Columbus area and stay in the game if I could.”

The plan was to start her career as a nurse and maybe volunteer to coach whatever program she was looking for a little help with.

The broken leg injury changed his perspective, however.

“The cliché of ‘when one door closes another opens’ has never been truer,” Colucci said. “After the injury, I spent a lot of time with the coaches. During training and on match days, I was in the press box because I couldn’t stand up.

“I was able to kind of see what happens in a game from a schematic point of view. As a player, I never thought about all that, I just did what I was told. said. I got a taste of everything that goes into preparing a team for a game.”

At center, Colucci worked tight ends for a year and a half, before taking over as offensive line coach.

“It was a transition for me,” he said of tight ends training. “I had been an offensive lineman all my life, now I had to learn and practice the passing game. But, it was good for my growth, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and really helped me develop that side of the game.”

From the centre, Colucci then moved on to Birmingham Southern. There he doubled as offensive line coach and offensive coordinator.

In the 2021 season, the Panthers set a 10-2 record and the Collucci-led offense set several school records.

He replaced Tony Joe White, who took over as head coach at Austin College in Texas, which is much closer to home.

White announced his decision to the team on December 19.

The school moved quickly to ensure that Colucci would not accompany her.

“Within an hour I received a phone call from the sporting director,” Colucci said. “I walked in and we had a good chat. She had a plan and a vision of what the future would look like and they were confident enough to move forward with me. It meant a lot to me.

Birmingham-South is a Division III level member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), competing primarily in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA)

This move also means a lot to people who knew the coach when he was growing up at Ashtabula.

Bill Lipps, Conneaut’s football assistant and the school’s baseball head coach, was with Colucci for three years of his high school career, serving as head coach his senior year.

“He was very cerebral,” Lipps said. “We ran an offense without a huddle, which hardly anyone was doing at the time. Some of the linemen were having trouble picking up the signals, so we had to have a verbal signal and Anthony had to know everything.

“He verbalized everything. If he was off the pitch for any reason [and he seldom was], we were in trouble. His junior and senior year, I don’t think he ever gave up a bag. He never had a waiting penalty. I don’t think he ever missed a mission.

Lipps said he stayed in touch with his player throughout his time at Capital and even offered him a little advice on deciding to become a coach.

“I couldn’t believe he was asking me,” Lipps chuckled. “When he was at the Centre, I think he was like the lowest paid coach there. He worked weekends in the hospital emergency room. But, I just told him ‘Do what you makes happy.'”

Now as head coach and only 30 years old, the question for Colucci is: what’s next?

Will he continue to progress through the college ranks to bigger and better programs?

Not necessarily.

His wife, Chelsea, is from Raleigh, North Carolina. Their son, Anthony James will be 2 years old in April. The coach is more than happy with where he is in his career, as well as his life in general.

“Back home, everyone wants to know when you’re going to coach at Ohio State,” Colucci said with a laugh. “But, I’ve played at that level and I’ve coached at that level and I know the opportunity and the experience that level gives the athlete.

“It’s so much more than football. We have a roster full of guys who inspire to be doctors, engineers, lawyers. It’s kind of a dynamic atmosphere and culture. I would have no problem coaching that level for the rest of my life.”

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