SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- On Thursday, Jan. 30, the SPFK12 Board of Education revealed that Alex Passucci would be the first new boys soccer coach at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School since 1975. Passucci, a former star player for the Raiders in high school and later for Farleigh Dickinson University (FDU) on the collegiate level, succeeds his mentor, longtime varsity coach Tom Breznitsky.
While the move sparked some debate over how the transition was made, even Breznitsky's most staunch supporters had nothing but praise for Passucci, who had tremendous success at FDU for 24 years before returning to work with hometown players last year.
As a high school player, Passucci was the Raiders' team captain and MVP in 1986 and earned All-Union County and All-State honors. He went on to become the starting defensive midfielder on FDU's 1988 and 1989 NEC Championship teams and was a key contributor in the 1988 and 1989 NCAA Tournaments. A captain of the 1990 and 1991 squads, he was named First Team All-State (NJ Colleges) in 1991.After his career at FDU concluded, Passucci went on to play for the Brooklyn Italians. He also played for The New Jersey Stallions (1996-1997) and the Central Jersey Riptide (1998), who were part of the USISL D3 Pro League.
Passucci eventually parlayed his leadership skills into the coaching ranks as he rejoined the Knights in 1995 as an assistant coach and remained with the team until 2019. In 2001, FDU advanced to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2012, the team advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. Passucci was named NSCAA North-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year in 2012 and recognized as one of College Soccer News’ "Top Assistant Coaches" three times. Under Passucci’s assistance, FDU won six NEC Championships, made six NCAA Tournament appearances, and was nationally ranked No. 11 in 2001, No. 28 in 2002, No. 23 in 2003, and No. 20 in 2012. Passucci was inducted into the FDU Hall of Fame in 2017 as a player and as an integral member of Seth Roland’s coaching staff.
Describe the support you have received so far. Has your phone stopped ringing yet?
The support I have received has been tremendous. I’m very excited, and I’d like to thank everyone for their kind words and support.
What does it mean for you to come back and coach your high school team?
Within the past year, I’ve had a strong desire to take experience and knowledge over the past 25 years and give back to the community. I played for the youth travel program and went through the SPFK12 school system, where I had a great experience here academically and socially.
I live here. One of my goals is for all the players that come through to have a positive experience.
How is coaching college athletes different from coaching high school athletes?
You have to be more patient. Not all high school players will be as polished as a Division I college player. We hope to work hard and maximize everyone’s potential.
Is it intimidating to have to replace a legend?
I certainly have big shoes to fill. Brez’s accomplishments are impressive, but I accept and look forward to the challenge.
What do you plan on doing differently?
I’m not sure how different it will be. We will take one day at a time and make progress individually and collectively with a goal of winning championships. My goals are building successful teams, creating a positive culture and reputation in the classroom and community. I look forward to working to ensure highest character, integrity, and respect.
Anything else you'd like to say?
I want to thank Ryan Miller, Dr. Heisey and the committee for believing and trusting me to take over program with such a proud tradition. I’d like to thank Coach Brez for everything he’s done for me and other student athletes who were part of this program. Congratulations, Brez, you had an amazing career.
This is bigger than me. I’m very excited to being here. I will dedicate my self. Hopefully the community will be proud of the soccer program at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.