Captain Cuccia Balances Leadership and Responsibility



John Paul Cuccia runs in for his fourth touchdown vs. Platt Tech.

Richie Paolino, Sports Reporter

WOODBURY — While a football field is only 100 yards, for some, the game extends far beyond that. 

For John Paul Cuccia, the leadership honed on the gridiron has unquestionably found its way into the classroom. This past season, Nonnewaug got to see what Cuccia could do on the field, but something that stands out most is his tireless effort academically.

It’s an overused phrase, but he just gets it,” said culinary instructor John Dominello. “He’s well thought out before he speaks, he observes and asks questions when he doesn’t understand. He’s willing to work with any student. He is well respected by the class. He’s just a nice kid who works really hard and he’s respectful. These kinds of things will start to translate later in life for him.”

Not only do faculty observe Cuccia’s leadership skills, but these qualities are also easily recognized by classmates and teammates alike. 

“He’s always fun to hang around with,” said senior Paul Coppola. “Whether it’s playing basketball outside of school or just having a class with him, it’s always a good time.”

John Paul Cuccia, right, and his family take in a Titans playoff game last year. (Courtesy of John Paul Cuccia)

“He’s a great teammate,” said senior Sam Scott, who played receiver and linebacker for Northwest United. “He keeps the spirits of the team high and helps motivate everyone to be better. He’s always at practice and there for the team so he’s a good and fun guy to be around.”

Despite being an integral part of Northwest United’s success this season, these were the first games that Cuccia saw significant playing time. 

“This was a fun season for me,” said Cuccia. “Being around all the guys and building relationships with them all while going to battle at practice and in games, it’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

Northwest United finished its season 10-1 and hosted a state playoff game. Cuccia served as a big part of that, getting one of his greatest memories along the way.

“The whole game against Platt Tech was probably my favorite,” said Cuccia, who scored four touchdowns in the game. “It felt like all the hard work I’ve put into the season paid off by being a part of that win.”

Cuccia didn’t play for any football teams growing up before high school, but his interest in football started well before high school.

“I got into playing football just by always watching it, and just even throwing a football around in the backyard was always fun for me,” Cuccia said.  “Playing the sport I was always involved with is awesome for me.”

Outside of all this, people can find Cuccia working on the weekends by refereeing youth flag football games in the community and fulfilling his love for all things sports. 

“I got into reffing when our coach let the team know they needed some help,” Cuccia said. “I thought it would be fun while also helping younger kids have fun playing football like I did this season.”

Cuccia has sacrificed a lot of his own time to work on, but he takes pride in helping the community.

“It was a big commitment, but it’s not like it wasn’t fun,” Cuccia said. “It wasn’t a job; it’s something I get to do. It’s what I choose to do with my free time, so I am cool with doing it.”