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The Coaching Principal

POSTED September 23, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                                       The Coaching Principal

            THOMASTON – Every day about 2:15 or 2:20, John Perrucci trades in the formality of the day, in this case his suit and tie for tee-shirt and gym shorts more suited to his later in the day commitment.

            It is a routine teachers and coaches everywhere go through on a regular basis. But for Perrucci it is a little different. He is the boss, in this case the Thomaston High School Principal and how many principals do you know that are coaching?

            If you can name one, it is probably just one. The demands of being the head administrator of any school are just too taxing and time consuming to don the coaching gear.  Yet, there goes Perrucci every day off into the world of Thomaston Middle School girls soccer, transitioning from papers and policies to headers and hopefully no handballs.

            Why you ask. Well, certainly not for the money since middle school coaches earn so little they can only afford a one-handed massage. But you don’t have to dig far to figure out Perrucci’s thinking.

            It’s all a combination of passion and need.

            “Billy (A.D. Ryan) asked me if I would take the job and I said yes,” said Perrucci. “There was a need. We had no coach and nobody was expressing an interest. I didn’t want to see the team eliminated.”

            Perrucci also comes out of the coaching ranks which also contributed to his decision to take on the duties. He started Thomaston’s highly successful wrestling program and coached the team right up to two years ago when he became the school’s Principal.

            Before that, Perrucci coached JV soccer at Holy Cross and then the Thomaston High girls varsity team before in disbanded three years ago. As an administrator, Perrucci could have taken the job as a coaching necessity to keep the program alive, but he also viewed as a coaching opportunity.

            There is an inevitable bonus for the students that goes with being able to play. After all, how often do you get to hob-nob with the Principal without his tie on and knobby knees (Perucci’s knees are fine actually).

            ‘A week ago many of these students would have been hesitant to come up to me and start a conversation,” said Perrucci. “The kids get to know their Principal and I get to know the kids. We get to know each other on a different level.”

            Perrucci’s previous coaching experience has been on the high school level. He is enjoying the energy seventh and graders can bring to the field.

            “It is definitely a unique age group,” he said. “The kids want to win. What is different is that they don’t know how to be a team yet. High school kids are further along. But, they’re all having fun.”  

            This is not the first time Perrucci has stepped forward. During his Vice-Principal days he was handling the wrestling team and continued to assist part time when forced to give up the position.

Fit and trim, Perrucci got down on the mat with his grapplers giving students a chance to put their Principal in a head lock, arm bar or cross-face chicken wing (okay, I apologize for the last one. That’s a WWE hold and you know what real wrestlers think about those things.).

Now how many students that aren’t in jail these days can claim they’ve been able to do that? Just for the record, Thomaston will have a new head coach this season and Perrucci expects to help out.

For the all desire and passion to help out, Perrucci has had to deal with the practical part of the situation. Principals don’t coach for a reason – they don’t have the time. So how does he do it? Spend more time at it.

“I struggle with the time,” he admits. “I got to practice and come back to the school to finish up my work.”

The days are long and Perrucci, who also has daughter Mia who is in fourth grade, is not always full of vim and vigor when the sun goes down. But it is a good tired when the day is done. A tired best of both worlds.

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