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Holy Ghost’s Cacchio disputes reasons for departure as head coach at end of 2009 season

Friday, 26th June 2009

Categories Boy's/Men's, Features, High School  
 

By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/26/09

Lou Cacchio said he looks back on his eight years of coaching the boys’ lacrosse team at Holy Ghost Prep with mostly fond memories.

Cacchio enjoyed much success at the Lower Bucks school, posting a career record of 95-36 while winning three Northeast League championships and sending his team to the playoffs six times.

But Cacchio feels he now must explain what occurred in the end of the 2009 season when he was removed as coach for the final two games for disciplinary reasons he claims were never released to the Holy Ghost players or community.

The Firebirds began the season with a 13-1 record, but fell to playoff contender Pennsbury, 9-7, on May 2 and then lost to Plymouth Whitemarsh, 6-3, on May 7. Cacchio said he took a stronger approach that usual when addressing the team in post-game remarks following the PW loss.

The next day Holy Ghost athletic director Jim Stewart told Cacchio he was being suspended for the upcoming May 8 game against Hatboro-Horsham due to complaints from six players about Cacchio’s post-game remarks on May 7, according to Cacchio. Stewart did not give Cacchio the chance to respond to the players’ claims, Cacchio said.

The Firebirds lost to Hatboro-Horsham, 17-6, with the team’s JV coach at the helm that day. Two days later, Holy Ghost was awarded a playoff berth against Upper Dublin in the District 1 playoffs, but Cacchio was asked to resign, according to Cacchio. He said he refused to resign and was then dismissed.

Cacchio says the most difficult part of the dismissal is that he was told by Stewart not to speak to the players, parents or the media about his departure. It was told to the Holy Ghost players that Cacchio took a “personal” leave at the end of the season and that he mutually agreed to leave the team in a letter to Holy Ghost parents from the school.

The Firebirds fell in the playoffs to Upper Dublin, 10-9, and many of the Ghost players wore Cacchio’s initials on their eye black. Holy Ghost officials would not release any reason for Cacchio’s alleged personal leave at the time.

Cacchio is emphatic that he did not take a personal leave and was forced to leave the post without being able to explain his actions to the athletic director or Holy Ghost officials.

“The letter stated there was a mutual agreement that I would not coach at Holy Ghost anymore,” said Cacchio. “That is a flat-out lie.

“That’s what really upset me through this thing.

“I was never given a chance to explain myself to my players at all, and that’s what’s most upsetting about this. I never had the chance to explain myself face-to-face with the team. I would think after 8 years, I would have been given that.

“They way it was handled, I was portrayed as a quitter or something worse – and that isn’t theundefined case.”

Stewart has posted the position and said in a recent statement that “the school has decided to move in a different direction with the lacrosse program and looks forward to fielding a strong team in 2010.”

Stewart added, “Holy Ghost is appreciative of Coach Cacchio’s service and dedication to the school and its students.”

Cacchio, a 1997 Holy Ghost grad and a 2005 inductee into the Holy Ghost Hall of Fame, said he was proud of the success his players enjoyed while he coached at Holy Ghost. Besides the wins, Holy Ghost grad Brett Manney (Class of 2004) was the first player from Lower Bucks to play men’s Division I lacrosse (a captain of Delaware’s Final Four team in 2007), and many others have gone on to play college lacrosse.

From this year’s team, two Ghost rising seniors – attackman Andrew Cacchio, the cousin of Lou; and goalie Andrijko Andrusko – earned spots in the inaugural Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association Showcase two weeks ago.

“I think the most important thing – and the message kind of got lost between me and the AD – is that first and foremost I tried to make the players better and I tried to make them successful,” Lou Cacchio said. “I have always been about the players. I am a players (oriented) coach and I did what I did for them to help them succeed.

“Looking back, the most important thing is the relationships I made over the years with the kids.

“Something that’s very disappointing to me is that I can’t see this last class through. A lot of these kids are juniors and have played (varsity) since freshman year. We have a good thing started and it’s a shame I cannot see this through.”

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