NRHS names new football coach
Published 11:19 pm Friday, February 7, 2014
Nansemond River High School announced David Coccoli as its new head football coach on Friday.
After having served six years as a high school head coach and six more as an assistant, the 33-year-old Coccoli is fresh off leading Group 6A South’s Forest Park High School in Woodbridge to its first winning season since it opened in 2000.
“We’re real excited for him to be joining the Nansemond River family because he seems like he’ll be a very good fit,” NR activities director Nancy Richey said.
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Coccoli grew up in Hampton Roads and was looking for an opportunity to return. He said he was told Nansemond River is “a place that can be a hidden gem,” and he was excited by the opportunity to come back to the area.
In the late ‘90s, he played football with the likes of Michael Vick at Warwick High School, where Don Coccoli, his father, served as a coach.
Because of his dad, the younger Coccoli grew up around coaching and said, “It’s something I always saw myself doing one day.”
After continuing his career as an offensive lineman at Christopher Newport University, he became an assistant coach at Warwick, holding that position for six years.
Coccoli then received his first head coaching opportunity at the then-Group 2A Manassas Park High School, where he continued to develop his reputation as a defensive-minded coach. The Cougars were ranked top five in the state for total defense in his third year with the team, when it went 7-4 and reached the regional playoffs.
The next year, he took over at Forest Park, and during his time there, he helped the Bruins defense reach a point in which it ranked third in the state in points allowed. In 2013, the school had its best season ever, going 9-4 and reaching the 6A South Region semifinals before losing there to Oscar Smith High School.
At Nansemond River, he said, “I want to put a program in place that the community can be proud of, the administration can be proud of,” and he wants to help his athletes succeed. During his coaching career, he said he has helped over 30 players sign for post-high school opportunities.
Off the field, has served as a history teacher for 10 years, and will continue in that capacity at Nansemond River. During the search for a coach, Richey said that was important because “we wanted to make sure that we narrowed it down to someone that could also teach in our building.”
She said the coach’s consistent presence at the school helps them deal with little daily concerns that come up related to the team and also aids in their connection with the players.
Both Richey and Nansemond River principal Thomas McLemore were surprised at how social media and the Internet resulted in coaching applicants before they had even made a formal announcement.
The search process ended up involving a field of candidates from states including Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, North Carolina and Virginia. Some of them had experience as assistants at the college level.
“We had probably in the neighborhood of 20 applicants, and we met face-to-face with about eight of those,” Richey said.
McLemore said Coccoli stood out because “he has a number of years as a head coach already.” He has had success, is a disciplinarian and is an outstanding teacher.
“He seemed to be the best, well-rounded candidate,” McLemore said.
Coccoli has begun the process of moving himself and his family — a wife and 11-month-old daughter —- back to the area.