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A New Era – Leadership Changes in Girls’ Soccer, Volleyball, Cheerleading

Emily Goldberg ’12
Web News Editor

Photo By Annie Nelson '11 - New Varsity Coach, Denise Dargel leads the Staples varsity cheerleaders in a practice cheer.

Three out of the six fall girls’ sports teams have received new varsity coaches this season.

Under new leadership the girls’ volleyball, soccer and cheerleading teams hope to rise to success.

Girls’ Volleyball

After four FCIAC championships, and two appearances in the CIAC Class LL State Championship, physical education teacher Bruce Betts announced he would be stepping down from the position as the girls’ varsity coach at the end of the 2009 season. The team now had to undergo a shift in coaching, something they have not had to do for the past 25 years.

However, the team is comforted by the fact that a familiar face will be taking over for Betts.

Social studies teacher Jonathan Shepro stepped up to the varsity role after serving as the team’s JV coach for the past thee years.

“Shepro is a great coach and we have all had him as a coach before so we know how he works and we know how he teaches,” tri–captain Alex Masiello ’11 said.

Working without Betts is as new to Shepro as it is the entire girls’ volleyball community. “Betts has taught me so much about how to run a team, practices, good sportsmanship, strong effort and team play,” Shepro said.

Shepro is sad to see Betts leave the team, but he is excited to pick up right where the team left off last season. Instead of replacing Betts, Shepro sees himself as simply continuing what his own mentor started.

After ending last season at 15–3, and advancing to the semifinals of both the FCIAC and CIAC Championships, Shepro has high expectations for the team this year.

“Everyone should make some time to come watch a few games. I promise the girls will do everything they can to represent Staples in the way we have all come to expect,” Shepro said.

Girls’ Soccer

Physical education teacher Nicole Ross has come full circle with the Staples girls’ soccer team. Before graduating from Staples in 2005, Ross played on the team for her four years of high school.

Last year she returned to the girls’ soccer community as the JV coach, and now Ross will take the position as varsity coach for the 2010 season.

Ross succeeds former social studies teacher Brian Scott, who was the coach for four years. “Brian was a great coach, and we all miss him and are sad to see him go, but we are excited for this season with our new coaches. Coach Ross has been working us hard and doing a really good job leading the team,” tri–captain Jaclyn Katz ’11 said.

Ross’s own experiences playing soccer at Staples reflect a lack of coaching consistency. Each year Ross played on the team, she played under a new coach. Therefore, one of her goals for the season is to create stability. “I’m hoping to develop a bond between all the girls and build a strong program with consistency,” Ross said.

The Staples graduate has already implemented certain changes that have greatly benefited the team. Ross has put a strong focus on fitness this season. Tri–captain Shannon Moss ’11 said she believes this will lead the team to success, as this was a weakness for the team last season.

As well as keeping her team in shape, Ross hopes to unify the program. “My goal for this season is to develop the program as a whole. I feel it is extremely important for all the girls, no matter what team they are on, freshman, junior varsity, or varsity, to realize that they all play for Staples and that we will work together,” Ross said.

Ross approaches the 2010 season with excitement, which she has spread to the team as well as the entire program. Her strong effort and positive attitude is clearly evident. “I think Coach Ross is doing a great job and has brought nothing but excellence to the program so far,”tri-captain Kelly Bohling ’11 said.


As the fifth coach of the Staples cheerleading squad since the 2005–2006 season, Denise Dargel hopes to bring consistency as well as success to the cheerleading community.

“I hope to create a strong program for the future. I’ve signed up for the long haul. I bring expertise in many aspects of the sport,” Dargel said.

Dargel’s cheering reume is lengthy. She has cheered since the third grade, continuing throughout middle school in program such as Pop Warner and the Spirit All-Stars. She then cheered for Joseph A. Foran High School in Milford before graduating in 2000. Dargel continued to cheer at Southern Connecticut State University.

“I think that she has the skills and tools to help the team continue to improve this year,” said co-captain Neva Sanfilippo ’11. “We have even begun to work on more difficult stunts early in the season, which gives a promising look to the long season ahead.”

Most recently, Dargel was a member of the first year international cheer team, which took sixth place at the World Competition in April.

However since then Dargel turned her focus to coaching. “After cheering for 20 years, and sustaining several injuries at the age of 27 I decided it was a good note to go out on, and hang up my pom poms,” she said.

The nationally recognized instructor has had as much experience coaching as she has cheering herself. Dargel been coaching since she was a freshman in high school, starting with the Pop Warner team. As an alumna she went on to coach her high school team and lead them to nationals for the first time in their history. Additionally Dargel coached the All Stars for four years, taking several national titles, and then coached Sacred Heart University for one year.

“We are very excited about our new coach Denise. She is extremely qualified, and I think that she will be a great asset in improving our team,” co–captain Lindsay Nelson ’11 said.

In addition, assistant coach Amanda Giudice will aid Dargel to lead the team to success. Giudice attended Joseph A. Foran High School as well, and the team is excited to have her. “She knows the ins and outs of coaching high school cheerleading. She is a great addition to our team,” Nelson said.

Dargel and Giudice hope to improve the team in every way possible, and believe the squad already has the aspects needed to succeed. “We have all the key ingredients for a successful program, strong athletes, lots of talent, and commitment from the girls, their parents, the community, and their coach,” Dargel said.

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