Geneseo softball coach Tony Ciccarello has had success at all of the levels that he has coached, though his success is not always attributed to following "the book."When an assistant coach once told Ciccarello this, he responded by saying that he had never seen "the book," and that he "goes a lot on gut feelings."
"Sometimes you look like a genius and sometimes you don't," Ciccarello said. "It's a lot of trial and error."
He pointed to one game last year when he put the team's leader in RBIs in the leadoff spot of the lineup. Critics might question such a move, but Ciccarello said he thought otherwise. His risk paid off; that particular game, the bottom of the lineup was able to get on base for the RBI leader, allowing her to hit a three-run home run in the second inning to propel Geneseo to the win.
Ciccarello also spoke of a gut feeling he had last year about then-sophomore Sam Guarrera. He said he expected Guarrera to get hits in a couple of big situations, so he put her into a game in a pinch, resulting in her coming through with big hits twice.In softball, it is a common strategy to attempt a sacrifice bunt with a runner on first base and no outs.
Ciccarello said there are times when he will not do that, especially when he has an inkling to avoid it. He admits that this has caused him to "sometimes look like a knucklehead."
Despite occasionally being wrong on a few of his hunches, Ciccarello has always had success as a head coach. Ciccarello led Geneseo to the SUNYAC title in 2002 and has a record of 192-119 in eight years in his position.
Before coming to Geneseo, he coached Webster High School to two Section V Class A championships. Ciccarello competed in football, wrestling and baseball in high school, and said being a baseball player was one of his reasons for becoming a softball coach.
Ciccarello said the biggest difference between winning a sectional title and a SUNYAC championship is the opportunity to go to nationals in college. Other than that, he said each has its sense of accomplishment and the hard work it took to get there.
Ciccarello added that he "cherishes all the titles, but I'm itching for another one."Ciccarello made the move from coaching high school to college when his high school at the time was splitting into two districts; if he had not taken the job at Geneseo, it may not have become available again.
While at Webster, he helped out with Geneseo's softball program and knew previous head coach Joe French. Ciccarello said that at first, he was "shocked" at how much of a time commitment it takes to be a college coach. He explained how he went from having a job three months of the year at Webster, to a year-round, six to seven days a week job coaching at Geneseo.
He said he knew the time commitment would be more, but did not expect it to be as much as it actually is. Despite the increased stress and time commitments, Ciccarello still said, "I'm glad I made the jump."