The Brooklyn Center football team appears to have found a permanent leader for its program, as Brooklyn Center alum John Licciardi was recently hired to lead the Centaurs.
Licciardi, a 1999 Brooklyn Center graduate, spent the last six years at Osseo, where he was able to take home the Class 6A state title in 2015.
“I have always wanted to have a program to lead and give young men an opportunity to learn how to be well-rounded individuals through the game of football,” Licciardi said. “I myself have learned how to overcome things in life that I learned while playing football and have correlated into life decisions.
“To give back to the game that has given me so much and pass it on to others is very important to me. Having the opportunity to come back to where it all started is a bonus.”
Licciardi joins Brooklyn Center program that had an interesting head coaching situation last season. Former head coach Willie Finley resigned three days prior to the season opener, and Anthony Satchel was tasked with being the program’s interim head coach.
The Centaurs went 3-5 in the regular season in 2016.
“I am really excited to not only build from previous years’ successes, but to try and bring our community together to attempt to establish a family environment,” Licciardi said. “Brooklyn Center is and always has been a small town full of diversity and we need to celebrate and show our abilities to come together and succeed despite our geographic limitations.”
Brooklyn Center athletic director Nate Gautsch said there were six potential candidates for the position, and Licciardi was able to stand out.
“He is going to bring a lot of excitement, he is a high energy guy,” Gautsch said. “He will come in, bring excitement and work on getting kids organized and structured.
“He brings the Centaur culture back to the program. He played on the program’s last conference championship team in 1998.”
Licciradi feels that being an alum will help him bring more to the Brooklyn Center program.
“I feel that I can bring a sense of community being an alum, as well as a strong ability to remain organized,” Licciardi said. “There is much more to being a head coach than simply practices and games.
“The ‘behind the scenes’ commitment is very time consuming. I have learned from the head coach in every program I have been around; learning what to do on and off of the field; and how hard I need to work for the program and our athletes and coaches to be successful. Being a part of the Osseo football program and see the body of hard work pay off in 2015 was an amazing opportunity that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Winning the state title with Osseo in 2015 and being able to see the culmination of hard work will also help him as he joins Brooklyn Center, Licciardi said.
“I have been around many great programs in my coaching career that have helped me gain an understanding of how to better serve players, parents and the community,” Licciardi said. “Coaching at Osseo has been a great experience to translate how I would like to incorporate many of the things that have been successful into Brooklyn Center.
“Being a part of a coaching staff that enjoyed being around the players as well as each other is something I hope I can replicate. I feel that the two communities have similarities in many ways; which will help with the adjustment from a large school to a smaller school.”
Licciardi’s expectations for the program is to bring out more participants and to have more of his players become multi-sport athletes.