Mike Miragliuolo only coached in the Pine Tree State for a short period of time but what an impact he made. Coaching at his alma mater, John Bapst of Bangor, Miragliuolo directed the girls varsity soccer program from 1997-2000. Ironically, the 1992 John Bapst grad excelled in basketball, baseball, and cross country but never played soccer.
He also coached boys basketball and baseball at the sub-varsity levels before taking over the varsity helm of both programs in 2001. Following consecutive .500 seasons, Miragliuolo instilled a renewed sense of energy into the boys basketball program, guiding the Crusaders to a fourteen win season, playing in Class A. That spring he guided the baseball team to a state championship.
Following the 2000-01 academic year, Miragliuolo accepted a position teaching history and as head baseball and cross country coach at Green Hope High School in Cary, North Carolina. Green Hope has an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students. During his tenure in North Carolina, Mike has developed the cross country program, attracting 225-250 runners each year. The girls teams for the past several years have been ranked in the top ten nationally. His baseball teams are consistently one of the top teams in the conference.
In his recent book The Real Story of a High School Coach, Mike Miragliuolo tells his story of growing up the son of a coach, his playing days in high school, as well as his coaching days in Maine before moving on to North Carolina. This is such a good read because this isn’t just Mike’s story but the tale is so relatable to anyone who has coached at any level. Most anyone who has coached at the high school level can relate to the long days spent with little pay, the rewards of seeing the young chargers finally start to ‘get it’.
Mike also delves into his coaching philosophy early in the book. His beliefs are founded in the idea that athletics can be used to teach life lessons such as accountability, respect, overcoming adversity, and teamwork. Part of his philosophy was to put himself in the position of the student-athlete in order to better relate to his players. He also stated he is mindful that his athletes have much more going on in their lives other than your sport. Finally, he believes it is important to outwork your athletes and to show you are committed and passionate about them and their sport.
A major part of the book deals with the day-to-day routine of the high school coach. Many days for Coach Miragliuolo would start with his own workout at 5:30 A.M., followed by a full day of teaching. After school there would always be a practice or game and in some cases a lengthy trip back home. At the end of the day would be prep time thrown in to get ready for the next day’s practice or event.
Some of the more interesting aspects of The Real Story of a High School Coach involve his influences growing up. He lists his father, Lenny Miragliuolo, as his primary coaching mentor. You may remember the elder Miragliuolo as the longtime girls varsity basketball coach at John Bapst. Lenny was a fierce competitor who hated to lose. Mike quotes him as saying “The only thing you learn from losing is how to lose.”
Retired John Bapst athletic director, Bob Cimbollek, offered Mike his first coaching position, directing the junior varsity baseball team while he was student teaching there. Miragliuolo learned a great deal from Cimbollek, although each have their own coaching philosophies. Mike played basketball for Cimbollek and then was on his staff as the junior varsity coach. As a player for Cimbollek, he mentioned it was impossible to do anything on the floor without it being covered by one of Cim’s rules. While he certainly admires Cimbollek’s ability to prepare a team, he questions whether or not his ways would work in 2014.
Having coached in both Maine and North Carolina, Miragliuolo noted some differences. When he interviewed for the coaching positions, he was asked if he had his commercial license to drive bus. Coaches in North Carolina typically are expected to have the fields ready and to drive the team bus to and from meets and games. The sports seasons are longer in North Carolina, while the stipend for coaching is about the same, actually a bit less then Maine.
Mike Miragliuolo did serve a stint as an assistant basketball coach in North Carolina. He found there was more emphasis on X’s and O’s in Maine, while the emphasis in high school basketball in North Carolina was more on individual development. Towards the end of the book, he offers his critique on specialization in sports. In North Carolina he is noticing many athletes are forgoing school sponsored athletics in favor of AAU, club, or travel programs.
The Real Story of a High School Coach not only answers the question of what but why? Why do people such as Mike Miragliuolo spend so much of their time for little money and deal with a lot of the grief inherent in coaching? He explains he gets as much benefit from the athletes as they give him. Many athletes over the years have inspired him with their work ethic and their ability to overcome obstacles themselves.
He often describes the teams he coaches as a family. in his book, he talks about a number of tragic events that have occurred in his time coaching and how the teams have rallied together to help each other get through them.
The Real Story of a High School Coach is a must read for anyone interested in youth sports, whether a player, coach, parent, or general fan. It gives a new appreciation or a reminder of what people give in order to provide a great experience for the youngsters playing.
The Real Story of a High School Coach by Michael Miragliuolo can be purchased at amazon.com. The paperback version retails for $14.97 while a downloadable version for kindle is available for $3.99.