But it is an opportunity that seems to fit perfectly for the former football coach.
“This is where I’m supposed to be,” Soracco said. “Coaching is where I’m most comfortable and where I know I can make a difference with these kids.”
Soracco coached at Lewiston Middle School last year. The team went undefeated and won the league championship. When T.J. Niles resigned the indoor and outdoor varsity jobs, Soracco was a natural replacement. He was asked to apply, and was hired.
“I think they saw what we did with the (middle school kids) here,” Soracco said. “We practiced here a lot.”
The Lewiston High School boys finished 13th at the indoor state meet last year, while the girls’ team was 15th. In the KVAC meet, the Blue Devils’ boys took second while the girls were third.
It was a difficult choice for Soracco to leave the middle school. Students at the middle school had asked him to stay, but he thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“It was hard,” Soracco said. “I really enjoyed the kids last year. I knew they really wanted me to stay. But I know I can make a bigger impact up here because I have the kids for four years instead of two years.”
Soracco grew up in Reading, Mass., and was a standout athlete in a variety of sports, including football and track.
“Reading track went 29 years without losing a track meet,” Soracco said. “It was a national record. So I did track in high school and come from a good program. We had the same coach for 35 years. So I learned a lot from him.”
His first coaching experience came in football, though. He helped coach at Reading while he played for the Charlestown Townies in the Eastern Football League. He was former MVP of the EFL, and even had a tryout as a punter for the New England Patriots.
He left coaching when he and his wife moved to Maine and settled in Turner. Recently retired, he got back into the game when Carolyn Court, a longtime track coach at Bates, met him at a track meet. He was officiating and she encouraged him to get involved at Lewiston Middle School, where they needed a coach.
“I said that I’d do it,” Soracco said. “I knew I’d love to do it.”
He and Court teamed up with the middle school program last year and then made the jump to varsity together. She’s one of Soracco’s many assistants. The program had 125 kids sign up and he’s getting inquiries from more kids about joining the team. He says he’ll keep them all on the team.
“They have an opportunity to participate,” Soracco said. “You have kids from every end of the spectrum, from possible state champions to kids that are out for the first time. You never know. You never want to quit on a kid that’s a first-timer because all of a sudden in two years, he’s up six inches and put on 30 pounds. So we give every kid an opportunity and encourage that.”
The Blue Devils have a number of kids returning and a deep program with an abundance of athletes. Soracco’s goal is to build something consistent and competitive.
“We’ve got a chance to make some noise this year,” Soracco said. “Running-wise, we’re looking pretty strong. In our field events and our throwing events, we need to be a little stronger. We’re working on that. We’ve got kids in the weight room every day.”
Though coaching is coaching, no matter the sport, Soracco does see a difference coaching track from football — even though both sports require assistants that help with the specialties of the sport.
“There’s so many different events,” Soracco said. “You’re here 10 minutes and then over here for 10 minutes. In football, you’re either coaching offense or defense. For us, there’s so many different things to work on in track. It’s just being organized and having a plan every day.”
Though the season is young and practices are primarily run in the school gym or hallways, Soracco is excited about this new opportunity.
“The kids have been great — to do what they do,” Soracco said. “We’re in the hallways and all over the place. When you don’t have a facility, we do the best with what we have. The kids are enthusiastic. They’re working hard. They know they’ve got a chance to do something.”