Criscuolo: Waterford’s Greatest

Criscuolo: Waterfords Greatest

Mr. Criscuolo works at Waterford High School as a history teacher and track coach.  He has worked for Waterford for 21 years and at the high school for 14. 

Word has it that you grew up in New Haven? 

Yes I did. I first lived in the Hill Section and then in junior high school moved to a different neighborhood called Westville. I still miss it and am today trying to convince my wife for us to move back there when I retire from WHS.

What was your high school like?

Loved it! Had lots of friends, trusted my teammates, and was able to navigate through the many cliques and groups in the late 1970s.

Did you run in high school?

Yes, by junior year we were second as a team in State Class L Championships. My senior year we won Class L. I loved being part of the relays and could fill in many different events.

What was your favorite event?

200m, 4x100m, and 4x400m. Actually, back in the day they were known as 220 yard dash, 4×110 yard relay, and the 4x 440 yard relay. The tracks were one year away from being converted from yards, Imperial measurement, to metric. They predicted that by 1980 the United States would be converted to the metric system. That plan did not work out too well!

Looking back, do you recall your best run? What was it like?

I was able to run a 400m leg in the Sprint Relay at the State Open. I was able to fight off other runners enough to give baton to our best runner, Brad Bunney. The turns were tight and used all of my 150 lbs. to hold New Britain in the corners. Brad ran a blazing half mile and we won the event.

For those who intend on running, what advice would you give?

Start with timed runs and forget about how far you run. Begin with a 10 min conversational run. That means you run a pace that allows you to comfortably talk to your training partner. Do this five times a week. The next week increases to 20 mins. By the third week you should be able to run 30 mins at conversational pace without stopping.

How did you end up coaching Waterford High School?

I originally coached at Guilford High School and then East Haven High School. I took off several years to watch my sons grow up and coach them in different youth sports. Mr. Ellis was our track coach in 2012 and offered me the chance to be his assistant. I took over the program in 2014.

Do you enjoy coaching for WHS?

Love it! It’s hard balancing the “real” job of teaching, but well worth it. I like introducing hurdles and jumping to freshmen and sophomores the most. I also like the challenge of mixing and matching athletes in the three relays.

Did you ever see yourself coaching during a pandemic?

Yes I did. Last year in spring of 2020 I was hopeful we would have some type of Outdoor Track experience. But I was wrong. This year though I was able to coach cross country in the fall, indoor track over the winter, and now outdoor track this spring, all during COVID. There are lots of restrictions and guidelines we must follow, but overall, the athletes love the chance to train and compete.

Has there ever been a student that ran track and stood out to you? If so, who? Why?

Sophia Podeszwa, Class of 2018, was the best athlete I coached at WHS, boys or girls. She was an exceptional hurdler who holds many of our school records. She had a gymnastics background and was able to master and excel in the physical demands of hurdling. She worked exceptionally hard training for her events. She accepted the need to strength train as a track athlete. Not all high school athletes see that connection between lifting and success on the track. Sophia is currently running at UConn