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Profile: Jason Mangone finds a home at Brockport

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Tue, Nov 12th 2019 09:00 pm
Brockport head football coach Jason Mangone intently watches as his team takes on Alfred University on Saturday, Nov. 9. Mangone led Brockport, the school he has been at since 1997, to its third consecutive league championship. Mangone transferred to Brockport from Alfred as a junior and became the starting quarterback during his first season on the football team.
Brockport head football coach Jason Mangone intently watches as his team takes on Alfred University on Saturday, Nov. 9. Mangone led Brockport, the school he has been at since 1997, to its third consecutive league championship. Mangone transferred to Brockport from Alfred as a junior and became the starting quarterback during his first season on the football team.

A football team can be the face of a college or university. The head coach is usually a major spokesperson for the school, whether they are an alum or not, no matter how long they have been there. The College at Brockport has had a nationally ranked football team for the past few years, and the face of that team has been at the school since he was a student in 1997.

When he transferred to The College at Brockport from Alfred University after his junior year of college, head coach Jason Mangone’s main focus was on physical education. He had not done more research on the football program but he intended to play quarterback at his new home, just as he did at Alfred.

“I transferred here in the fall of 1997 and ultimately wanted my physical education degree because I wanted to coach,” Mangone said. “My intention initially was to be a high school football coach and emulate, as best I could, Len Jankiewicz, my high school coach who was like my second dad.”

After coming to Brockport believing he did not have a great chance to start or even play a lot, Mangone became the starting quarterback for the fourth game of his first season as a Golden Eagle. Trying to stick to his plan, he graduated from Brockport after two years with a degree in physical education and still had a vision to coach in high school. However, he was offered a job in 2000 that ended up changing his life.

“I was offered a full-time position [on the football coaching staff] in 2000 and happily accepted it,” Mangone said. “I thought I’d be here for two to three years, get my masters’ [degree] and move on to coach high school football. Then after a few years I became the offensive coordinator and I stuck around. Then I became the head coach, and here I am. What I thought was going to be a short journey became 20 plus years and I love every second of it.”

While Mangone has been a coach at Brockport for quite some time, there was a time when he began searching for another job. That all changed when his predecessor and coach while he played at Brockport, Rocco Salomone, delivered some shocking news.

“Rocco Salomone, who I worked for for 15 years, came in one day and told me that I was the next head coach,” Mangone said. “When he told me, I was seeking, at that point in my life, a head coaching job elsewhere. When you play for a guy and you work for a guy for that long, you just think he’s going to be there forever. And oftentimes that’s how it should be. He built Brockport football into what it was. I was interviewing, and he was helping me, somewhere else. He was nice enough to possibly lose me, but also to help me find somewhere. I had just interviewed at a Division II school for an offensive coordinator position when he told me that change was happening.”

Getting the nod to become the next head coach was enough to keep Mangone at Brockport, but he was very tempted to leave by the other positions he interviewed for.

“I was close to leaving because at some point in your career, you hit an age where it’s now or never,” Mangone said. “I’m 42 now, and it’s going to be tough to leave. And I don’t want to leave. I love what we’re doing and I feel like we can win a national championship here. I was a final three [candidate] for a really awesome job but I never actually followed it through because I was promoted here and this place is home. I’ve been here for over half my life and I take pride in not only what football does here, but what the academics do here and what the other athletic programs do here.”

Since making the decision to stay on as Brockport’s head coach, Mangone has accumulated a 57—20 record. Since 2017, his teams have gone 32—3. Matt Arita, a star defensive back from 2015-2018 and a coach on the current staff, has seen Mangone as both a coach and a boss. Arita has been inspired by his former coach to pursue a coaching career of his own.

“He definitely has a major influence [on and off the field],” Arita said. “Personally, he’s one of the major reasons why I’ve gotten to what I’ve wanted to do as far as coaching. So on the field he’s a very passionate, very fiery coach. Off the field, he’s always been a figure for us that we can always lean on and he’d do anything for us.”

Despite being the fiery coach on the sidelines, Mangone tries to treat his players like he treats his two children.

“I treat them the same,” Mangone said. “I’m very tough. When you go out and drop a pass, I’m not going to kill you for it. If you go out and run the wrong route, you’re going to hear from me. My kids are no different. If they do things knowingly wrong, I’m going to be tough on them. They play a lot of sports. I tell them all the time, ‘win or lose, good or bad, I’m going to love you regardless. If you don’t play hard, you’re going to hear from me.’”

For Mangone, while Brockport was not the home he intended to have back in 1997, it has been for the past 22 years and counting; and it does not look like it will be changing anytime soon.

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Taken by Vinny Croce:
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