On the rise: New coach learning to lead first-year soccer program at Vidalia

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Becoming a Vidalia High School Viking happened quite fast for Adam Terragnoli.

In the past two years, Terragnoli went from being a college student at Pennsylvania State University, to moving to the Miss-Lou. Perhaps most surprising of all, he is now the head coach of Vidalia’s first-ever soccer team.

“Things came together very quickly,” Terragnoli said. “We have a full schedule with uniforms and two full teams. There has just been a lot of excitement.”

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Terragnoli and his assistant coach, Eli Landman, are both enrolled in a two-year program for young teachers called Teach for America. The nonprofit organization aims to recruit college graduates from top universities around the United States to serve in a public or public charter K-12 school in a low-income community.

Terragnoli said after attending an informational session on the program at Penn State, he was hooked.

“I just found it to be really interesting,” he said. “There was a recruiter that came out to talk about the application process, and the next thing I knew I was headed to Vidalia, La. to teach eighth grade.”

Terragnoli has taught math at Vidalia Junior High for the past year and a half, and with previous soccer experience, landed his first head coaching job at the beginning of this school year.

“(Vidalia High) Principal (Bernie) Cooley and (Concordia Parish School Board) Superintendent Whest Shirley approached me and said they knew I had played soccer in the past. They asked if I would be interested in coaching soccer at the high school,” Terragnoli said. “I had played when I was younger and played intramurals in college. My brother played high school soccer, too, so I certainly watched him growing up. When there was an opportunity to coach came, I took it.”

So far, Terragnoli said the best part of starting the program has been seeing the impact it has on the school and community.

“It was cool to see everyone get excited — the players, the administrators and the parents,” he said. “The booster club has set up T-shirt sales. It’s really been a community effort.”

Though he said he wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when he began his journey as head coach, Terragnoli said he has enjoyed his experience.

“It’s really nice to be able to make your vision for a team come together. I think we can definitely mold them into quality soccer players,” he said. “There were a lot of kids who had played soccer and wanted to play soccer. A lot of players that we have are just excited about the athleticism aspect. I think now that it has started people are really going to come together for it.”

Additionally, Terragnoli hopes to fulfill everyone’s needs.

“There are certainly differences. The high school I went to had 1,200 people, while the high school here has 300 people,” he said. “You start to notice in you day-to-day routine. Being a northerner, soccer is much bigger there than it is here, but it’s only going to grow from here.”

At the end of his Teach for America contract, Terragnoli said he is still unsure where life will take him. Yet he said it no matter what happens, he will always remember Vidalia.

“I’m still up in the air about what I’m going to do,” he said. “I have some graduate schools offers, but the community here has been great. The administration has been nothing but supportive and they have been making it hard to choose.

“I just want it to continue to grow. I want us to win games, and maybe even a state championship.”