Justin Serpone, WHS Class of 1997
Justin Serpone is in his 12th season as head men’s soccer coach at Amherst College. Additionally, he is the director of Amherst LEADS, a leadership development program at Amherst College. He currently lives in Hadley, Massachusetts with his wife Angela and their three children (Lily, Tyson, and Annabelle). He is in the process of completing his fifth and sixth graduate degrees. Justin is back in Winchester frequently as his mother still lives in the same house he grew up in. Justin has been back to Winchester High School a number of times over the years to work with Sachems Lead, the Amherst LEADS inspired program at WHS. Amherst LEADS has held events at WHS as well as having their staff run the annual Sachems Lead summer workshop to help develop WHS student leaders over the last four years.
Was there a favorite moment, person or experience at WHS that you remember that has helped you find your passions or reach your goals?
“I do what I do today because of my experiences at WHS in soccer and basketball.
Having the opportunity to play for Coach Quinton Dale and Coach Ted Lyon as part of the WHS basketball program directly shaped my philosophy on coaching and life. In 1996, our basketball team had the chance to play for a state championship in basketball. I’ll just say that it was the perfect concoction of love, competition, camaraderie and relationships to fuel the passion of any aspiring coach. Sidenote: I wasn’t a very good basketball or soccer player in high school or college, which makes that sort of influence even more unique and special.
What I know for sure is that I would not be doing what I’m doing today without the influence of the coaches and teammates in my time at WHS.”
What was the path you took to get where you are today?
“I was exceptionally lucky to get opportunities at a young age, with wonderful mentors that gave me a chance early in my coaching career. After graduating college I joined the staff at Lafayette College where I spent two seasons. After that I went out to Chicago and coached at Northwestern for three years before spending a year at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The thing I took most from my personal career road was how important it is for young people to be given great mentorship. One thing I am proudest of is that in the 12 years I have been Head Coach at Amherst we have had nine assistant coaches go on to get head coaching jobs. I feel like it’s my responsibility to give them the same fantastic preparation that I was given.”
Please share a success since leaving WHS.
“In 2015, Amherst Soccer had the fortune to win the DIII Men’s Soccer National Championship. It was an amazing experience, not because we won a soccer game, but because of all of the work, energy and love it took to make it happen. We’d had our heart broken so many times in previous years before winning the championship and that’s where the success lies.”
Is there insight or advice you can share with current students?
“The people with whom you surround yourself in life will dictate so much of your success and happiness. Whether it’s your friends, life partner or co-workers, you have to be intentional about making sure you’re around good people who make good life choices. I’ve seen so many people get hung up because of negative influences in their life and a lot of times it’s simply a matter of picking and choosing who you choose to give you love and time to.
My greatest fortune in life has been to have been born into an amazing family, and also to have grown up in Winchester. The people I am closest with, to this day, are my friends from WHS. In every step of my life those friends have supported me, challenged me, inspired me and been a constant presence.”
Justin Serpone is a member of the Winchester Alumni Association and can be reached through WinchesterAlumni.org.