Former professional player joins women’s soccer coaching staff

The final whistle blew to signal the end of Northeastern University’s 2017 soccer season, and with it the end of an era for Kayla Cappuzzo. 

Now, Cappuzzo works as the assistant coach of the Emerson women’s soccer team. During her college career Cappuzzo received first-team all-conference honors twice in the Colonial Athletics Association and set the school’s single-season record for assists. After completing that chapter of her career, she had to decide what her future entailed. 

After weighing her options, Cappuzzo said it became very clear that she would not be walking away from soccer any time soon.

“My lifelong journey was definitely to play professionally, and I had that goal since I was a little kid and all throughout college,” Cappuzzo said in an interview. “I knew my last game at Northeastern wasn’t going to be my last game of soccer ever.” 

Cappuzzo joined MTK Hungarian FC, a soccer team in the Union of European Football Association Champions League, while overcoming a language barrier between her and the rest of the team. Following her lone season at the club, Cappuzzo returned home to use what she learned overseas to start a coaching career at Emerson.

“When I was in Budapest, my coach actually didn’t speak any English,” Cappuzzo said. “Something I value more than ever right now is communication and communicating with the girls on and off the field. Not just about soccer but class as well, and just to make sure that they’re excelling and exceeding in all aspects of life.”

In order to pursue her professional aspirations, Cappuzzo hired an agent after graduating from Northeastern who helped her in negotiations with teams overseas. 

When she arrived in Budapest, Hungary, Cappuzzo realized she had achieved the dream she had been pursuing since childhood. 

“Stepping onto a big stadium field, wearing a professional jersey—it was just one of those moments where I was like, ‘Damn, all my hard work paid off,’” Cappuzzo said. 

Although succeeding as a coach is not the same as succeeding as a player, Cappuzzo said it has been a fairly simple transition thanks to other members of the coaching staff.

“It is an honor to be working with Loy [Urbina], Colin [Connolly], and [David] Suvak,” Cappuzzo said. “They helped me transition from being a player to a coach really easily, giving me all the tools of what it takes to be a coach.” 

After Cappuzzo approached head coach David Suvak during the interview process, Suvak quickly identified her as an ideal candidate. 

“I think she’s a very happy person,” Suvak said. “You can see the joy and that she really likes being around the sport. I think she’s a very competitive player as well, and as she starts transitioning into the coaching profession, I think that can help translate to a higher competitive level for our players here at Emerson.”

Once she was officially hired in April 2019, Cappuzzo found her role within the four-person coaching staff. According to Suvak, Cappuzzo plays a large role in on-field evaluations in training or during a game. Suvak said he can rely on her despite her inexperience as a coach. 

Cappuzzo believes that as the only female on staff, she will give the players someone to relate to. 

“I can relate to the girls in a lot of ways,” Cappuzzo said. “I just finished up playing college soccer not too long ago, so I know exactly what they’re going through.” 

Cappuzzo said she has dreams to eventually coach at the Division I level. However, she is focused on the current season and is hoping to create a culture of excellence around the program.

“Emerson has so much to offer, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity I have now to share all of the soccer knowledge and soccer experience that I have,” Cappuzzo said.

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