Marcus Palazzolo was named the new Phoenix head coach recently as he will try to bring some continuity and consistency to a program that has lacked both the past few years. Palazzolo takes over for Richard Torrey who left after one year at the helm after he took over for Matt Rice who is now the head boys coach at Calhoun.
Palazzolo, who also owns Cherokee Cycle Shop in Calhoun, has coached soccer as an assistant or head coach at Woodland Middle and Calhoun High before moving into a teaching position at Sonoraville last year. He will be assisted by Daniel Melick.
Palazzolo will also serve as head cross country coach this year as he takes over for Steve Hamilton who will focus solely on his wrestling coaching duties.
Palazzolo said the key to building the Sonoraville boys soccer and cross country program to where they need to be is through hard work, something he said he has been a believer in through soccer, cycling or running throughout the past several years.
Recently, the Calhoun Times caught up with Palazzolo to talk about his new job and how he plans to approach the challenge of coaching both Phoenix programs.
Here’s what he had to say:
CT: What was your interest in the job when you found out about the opening?
Palazzolo: Our Athletic Director Brent Mashburn contacted me (about the soccer opening) and let me know they had kind of thrown my name around a little bit. I didn’t know if they had someone in mind for the position, but they said my name came up so I talked to them a little bit and I’ll be coaching with Daniel Melick who will be teaching over at the high school. Between he and I, I think we’ll be able to take the boys to another level. We want to get some good wins and get them to learn more and improve.
CT: What were your immediate feelings when you heard that you had gotten the job?
Palazzolo: Well, with coaching and teaching, the first reaction is always nervousness. But, I’m confident now that I’ve been in contact with coach Melick, that between he and I, we are confident in our abilities. I went to high school at Druid Hills high school, which is a pretty strong soccer area in Atlanta, so between that and a little intramural soccer in college, I’ve got a pretty solid background about how to work the game. And coach Melick played in college so he’s got a next level understanding of how to get the guys to improve.
CT: What are some of your coaching philosophies?
Palazzolo: My No. 1 rule with any of my teams whether it’s cross country or soccer is to have fun and improve yourself. If the boys and girls are having fun, they’re going to want to be out there, and that’s the greatest motivator as an internal motivator. Just getting out there and improving and doing the best job you can do is what I stick to.
CT: What’s it going to take to build some consistency in the soccer program?
Palazzolo: I think between coach Melick and I, I told coach Mashburn and Mr. (Bruce) Potts that I’m certainly interested in doing this. I’ve always followed, coached or played soccer. I have an interest in personally so I think in the long run we need to make sure we have a strong middle school program and keep those players really active through high school. They’re going to have a fall strength and conditioning program that I’ll have in place for them when they come back to school. The stronger you are going into the season, the better. It can be kind of tough to get those kind of workouts and training in during the winter months.
CT: What are your expectations going into your first year as coach?
Palazzolo: (Our goal) is just to improve. I know there is a little bit of change in the seniors and different grade levels. I would like to increase the numbers. I think we can get better numbers out there, and that always helps to keep fresh legs out there on the field by having some depth. That’s true with both soccer and cross country. I expect that we’ll improve. We’ve got the new region in AAA, so that will shift things around a little. We’ll just have to look at the region, and do our best to improve on last season.
CT: What are some things you want your players to know about you?
Palazzolo: I really do like to work hard. Personally, I’ve either raced my bicycle or played some sports, or I’ve competed in some thing all my life from high school all the way up through middle age. I really like to be competitive and work hard. If I’m going to be at a game or competition, I like to bring my best. That’s the idea, that I want the players to improve themselves so they bring their best to every game and practice.