On Sunday at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, Mass. the No....
Eric DaCosta showcases former players gone pro on ‘Wall of Fame’
Eric Da Costa has been the head coach of the men’s soccer team for the past eight years. When walking into his office, it is clear he has plenty to show for his time. His walls are covered with plaques, awards and a few treasured jerseys.
The framed jerseys that decorate his wall belong to four of his previous players who have gone on to play professionally: Graciano Brito ’08, Shane Recklet ’10, Freddy Hall ’10 and Durval Pereira ’12.
“It all started with Graciano,” Da Costa said. “He was our very first player to sign pro, and as soon as he did he mailed me his jersey, which was a real emotional moment for me. He was the first player I ever recruited here.”
Brito has since become an assistant coach to Da Costa, but this touching moment gave Da Costa the idea to hang the jersey on the wall of his office to be an inspiration to future players.
“I immediately, obviously knew it was something special and I wanted to make sure that I did something special with it,” Da Costa said. “So we put it in a frame, put it up on the wall and that gave Shane and Freddy, I think, the motivation to think, ‘Hey, we can do this too.’”
The jerseys symbolize the success of the program, players and coaches. From recruitment to graduation day, they are there to bring pride and promote aspirations of future success to all of his players.
“These guys come into the program, and when they first start playing as young kids they all have aspirations of playing professionally and playing under the bright lights,” he said. “This is just a way for me to give our boys something tangible to look at and say, ‘Hey, if you have a dream then you have to chase it.’”
The jerseys also serve to strengthen the connection between coach and player. Da Costa is the type of coach to wear his heart on his sleeve and he makes it clear that he cares about his players both on and off the field.
“I live by the quote, ‘They don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care,’” Da Costa said.
The jerseys are just one way he shows his players how much he cares. His office door is always open, and there are often players hanging out in the comforting atmosphere.
While he awaits the arrival of jerseys from Dominic Adams ’11, Brett Uttley ‘13 and Robbie McLarney ’13, Da Costa contemplates what will happen when he runs out of wall space.
“I need a bigger office,” he said, laughing.