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NFA Football Hires One of its Own

Aleysha Rivera Bocachica and Shea Gendron

Aleysha Rivera-Bocachica, Staff Writer

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A big part of American culture is football.  The smooth brown piece of leather always seems to get New Englanders, in particular, riled up in anticipation of a possible championship title.  NFA is no different, as football is one of the most prominent sports on campus.  Recently, Norwich Free Academy’s Jemal Davis relinquished his position as head football coach and passed the torch to his assistant coach, Jason Bakoulis.

“I’ve been working the last three years towards my administration certification and my goal had always been to eventually move into administration. It would have been impossible for me to have balanced being a teacher, an administrator, and being the head football coach because of how much commitment goes into the position,” said Class of 1990 alumni Davis.  “And I have always tried to make decisions that are not only best for me, but also for those around me; so I felt it was time for me to step down as head football coach.”

Bakoulis has served as assistant varsity coach as well as defensive coordinator for the Cats since 2013.  Bakoulis has had much experience with the sport.  He started playing football as a child, and he played for NFA as defensive tight end, offensive lineman, and linebacker.  He later played at the collegiate level at Springfield College.

“It is an absolute honor to be head football coach, and just to come back as an alumni and continue the tradition of great excellency in the coach; and also to just add on to the legacy of successful head coaches. As a player, you start off the year in that red and white, and you look at those guys and you see the great coaches. You always want to come to them, which is what I want to do, and provide as a coach like it was provided for me when I was here,” Bakoulis said.

Davis and Bakoulis share the view that football is more than just a sport; it is an avenue through which valuable life lessons can be learned.

“Coach Bakoulis, I think, exemplifies what the academy is about.  He is an alumni, as I am, and what I see in him is a lot of me, especially at that age.  He is very passionate, very committed to the program and to the school.  He puts a lot of time and effort towards building relationships with the players, and he understands what is needed to be successful and promote more than just football with the young men. I’m talking about citizenship, appropriate behavior, all those things he values; and so I feel that he is going to do a great job because of that,” Davis said.

Often with coaching changes on any team there is a certain level of hesitancy towards the new coach, but there was none apparent when the change was announced. In fact, the players were thrilled to have Bakoulis move into the role of head coach, because he is already a part of the Wildcat football family.

“To me, playing football at NFA isn’t just playing a sport; it is a commitment.  It is a love for a sport, a love to win with your brothers and to spend time during the off season working out and building brotherhoods,” commented eleventh grader Quincy Jean Louis.  “Playing here at NFA has taught me many skills that aren’t just for football, but skills that will help me in life and that will help me as a man.  To play football at NFA isn’t just playing for myself or the guys around me, we play for all the alumni and faculty members.We play to represent ourselves and show that we are the best in the state,” said Jean Louis.

Coach Bakoulis is excited for the new season and said that he cannot wait for August to start training and conditioning for the 2017-2018 school year. Could this be the year that NFA brings home a state championship? Stay tuned.


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NFA Football Hires One of its Own