RIVERVIEW — In the perpetually dizzying world of coach speak, adages abound about putting schoolwork first. And while some coaches certainly take their kids to task, many others leave it up to the players.
But Spoto High's Dale Caparaso and his wife, Anne, are replacing cliche with action.
"It started with trying to keep kids eligible," Dale said. "And it's just grown."
The Caparasos have been running the successful offseason tutoring program for Spoto football players for the past five years.
"I'll be doing this as long as they want me here at Spoto," Dale said. "Or as long as Anne wants to stay married to me."
The Caparasos started the program in 2009 before they even considered it a program. Florida Virtual School, an online program, was taking off and offering kids chances to make up classes over the summer.
"We had one or two of the guys who were having trouble and they told me they didn't have access to a computer to take the classes," Anne said. "So we had them come over to the house and I helped them get going."
Anne, a peer evaluator at Lithia Springs Elementary, began working with the players to secure eligibility, but quickly found a deeper connection with the kids.
"For a lot of these kids, they need sports to keep them on track and when they are ineligible, we worry about them," Anne said. "That's when they seem to find trouble, so this was a way to try and avoid that happening."
The success of the first year brought more players the following summer which, in turn, required more terminals and space. Spoto principal Phillip Carr agreed to help, opening the computer lab for Caparaso and the players. For two hours a day, four times a week, players filed into the lab and took courses through the Florida Virtual School.
"All the curriculum and coursework is provided by (Florida Virtual School) but some of the guys don't have family computers or the structure to sit down for two hours and get the work done," Anne said. "So what I try to do is help them navigate through things and provide that structure."
Six Spoto players gained eligibility this summer thanks to the offseason program. But Anne, who isn't paid for any of the tutoring sessions, has a slightly different style than Dale, one of the most animated and vocal coaches around.
"No, I don't yell like him," Anne said with a chuckle. "But Coach Cap also has my back so I don't think they want to have any trouble with me then have to go out and see him. I'm not their teacher, their mother or their coach, but I am there to provide a helping hand."
And that is far from coach speak.
Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]