Campos named Coach of the Year

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Naugatuck resident Joe Campos has been named the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association’s Coach of the Year. –CONTRIBUTED
Naugatuck resident Joe Campos has been named the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association’s Coach of the Year. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — What qualifies a man for greatness is not the successes or accomplishments achieved, but the size of his heart. Naugatuck’s Joe Campos has made all the sacrifices needed to obtain such a level of greatness.

After close to 30 years of making choices that benefited youth in the borough of Naugatuck on and off the soccer field, it wasn’t a hard choice for the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association to name Campos its Coach of the Year.

“Joe has been a big part of Naugatuck Youth Soccer for many years,” Naugatuck high school boys soccer coach Art Nunes said. “His contributions to soccer in Naugatuck have been very influential to the success of the high school program. It’s truly a well deserved award.”

On Jan. 30 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell, Campos will be honored at the 24th Awards Dinner along with other coaches, referees and league volunteers.

“For me this is a very humbling award,” Campos said. “For my family they are just ecstatic and so proud of this recognition. I have never had so many calls, emails, texts and Instagrams from so many people offering congratulations.

“Some of these people I haven’t heard from in years. Former players, parents, other coaches, it’s just been very humbling. And what did I really do? I rolled a soccer ball out there and showed these kids how to have fun.”

In what is a labor of love, Campos began coaching youth soccer in his senior year of high school in 1986 as a three-year starter for the Greyhounds. Today, he coaches four soccer teams, three during the same season.

In 2014, Campos guided the Naugatuck Legends U-19 boys team to the Connecticut Cup state championship, and the U-19 girls and the U-16 boys to the semifinals.

The City Hill Middle School boys soccer team finished up its season this past fall with an 8-0-3 record with Campos patrolling the sidelines.

How does one man find the time and the energy to coach four teams?

“There are many sacrifices you make in order to do this,” Campos explained. “You made a commitment to these kids and you have to honor that. I’ve been very fortunate to have had great assistant coaches who are willing to make those same sacrifices.

“Weekends consist of a game on Friday, three games on Saturday and two more on Sunday. There are times I leave the house at 8 in the morning on Saturday and I’m eating dinner at home at 10 o’clock at night. My wife is sensational and so supportive. She has the same passion for the kids.”

Sacrifice and commitment are part of Campos’ character. Achieving success comes with time.

Campos has served the Naugatuck Youth Soccer Association three years as vice president and three years as president and along the way his premier teams have been a state finalist twice, a Connecticut Cup state semifinalist 12 times and won 15 South Central District Championships.

“My first game when I took over the travel program 9-10 year olds, we went into our first game with one practice under our belts,” Campos said. “We got destroyed 10-0 and lost every game that season. At that point I said, ‘Preparation will never be an issue again.’”
That same team won the league the following season.

While his schedule is usually full, Campos always finds time to watch his daughter, Taylor, play for the Naugatuck Greyhounds as well as the Connecticut Olympic Development team and his son, Michael, who has played in back-to-back NVL championships for the Naugatuck High School team.

“I have been coaching both Taylor and Michael since they were 4 years old,” Campos added. “I can’t even describe the feeling of watching your kids succeed at that level. I don’t expect them to follow my passion for coaching; I just want them to be happy in whatever they chose to do. They have put themselves in a position to be very successful through sports and it’s such an amazing feeling that I helped them to get there.”