Tom Coppola is the Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator at Canisius High School:
Why did you enter the coaching profession?
Coaching high school football has been a goal of mine since I stopped playing football in the fall of 2000. Having the opportunity to coach at my alma mater has been a dream come true.
What is your philosophy in coaching?
I believe players need to be physically and mentally prepared, and physically and mentally tough. Coaches have a responsibility to build a program that helps create an environment for success. I also believe coaches are teachers on the field. We need to lead by example in everything that we do. Finaly, high school sports need to be fun. Kids dedicate so much time to a football program, they need to enjoy the process.
What brings you the most satisfaction in coaching?
When a student-athlete who may be headed down the wrong path turns it around and succeeds in the classroom and on the field.
What was your greatest win in coaching High School Football?
The 2012 season was incredible. The championship game and beating St. Joe's at St. Joe's to end the regular season were both incredible wins. But, for me, the most satisfying win was beating Aquinas for the first time since 1945. It felt like the culmination of an off-season worth of work. Aquinas has an incredible program, and beating them felt special.
What were your most memorable moments in coaching High School Football?
Coaching at the Ralph never gets old. Seeing our kids celebrate an MMAA Championship on that field was really special.
What is your role as an Assistant Coach?
As the assistant head coach, I help Rich Robbins with some of the administrative duties that a head coach has to complete. I often create practice plans, and address the team if Rich is occupied with all of the work that a head coach has to do. As the offensive coordinator, I call the plays and create the game plan with our incredible offensive coaching staff, some of whom volunteer their time to our program. Bryant Gorman (Receivers & Pass Game), Dejuan Overton (Running Backs), Paul Novotny and Matt Glose (Offensive Line), Bryce Hopkins (Specialists), and our incredible student-athletes make my job very enjoyable.
What were the best teams you have coached?
The 11-0 2012 MMAA Champions will be hard to top. This group was most impressive because of how selfless they were. The kids bought in, loved each other, and worked hard. A pretty good receipt for any team.
What was your most proud and memorable moments in playing football?
I hope that I am a much better coach than I was a player. But, in 1999, I played for the CHS team that beat St. Joe's to break a 17-year losing streak. It was an incredible day to be a Crusader.
Who was your mentor?
I played for Head Coach Dan Troy with assistants Tim Schifflet and Angelo Sciandra, my junior and senior years at CHS. They were a dedicated staff that taught me a lot about how to act like a professional at practice and on the sideline. But really, my coaching mentors are my Dad, Jack Coppola, who coached basketball at Sacred Heart and St. Rose of Lima (North Buffalo), my uncle, Len Coppola, who coached basketball at St. Francis, and Bryan Tenney, the Varsity baseball coach at CHS, whom I played for as a senior. Coach Tenney, Uncle Lenny, and my dad have coached with great intensity.
Finally, Bryan Taylor, who is a volunteer assistant on our football staff, has taught me so much about the Xs and Os of coaching football and how to motivate yojng me. Brian is the best football coach for a young coach, like me, to be around.
How many years have you coached football?
2 seasons as the JV Head Coach - 2009 & 2010
2 seasons as the Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator on Varsity - 2011-Present