WINTHROP — Sometimes the best opportunities come to those who are patient.
Winthrop native Jonathan Cadigan has maintained a close connection to the Vikings football program since his playing days. A four-year varsity starter at tight end/linebacker, Cadigan graduated from Winthrop High in 2001. After taking a year off from football to focus on his academics as a freshman at Salem State, Cadigan returned to the football program in 2002 as an assistant coach.
Cadigan has remained an assistant coach since then, learning from the sidelines and patiently waiting for the ideal opportunity. Last Friday, Cadigan’s patience was rewarded when he was named the new head coach of the Winthrop football team.
“We’re thrilled to have Johnathan as our head coach,” Winthrop Athletic Director Matt Serino said. “It’s an exciting time. The kids were overly ecstatic to find out he’s their new coach. I don’t think you’re going to find anyone who has a commitment level like his. We’re excited for this chapter and we’re excited to see what he has in store for us.
Serino added, “We’ve had the opportunity to see him work first hand with the program. Being a Winthrop alum, his passion for the program was evident early on. We couldn’t have picked a better person to continue the tradition of Winthrop High School football.”
Cadigan was introduced as the team’s new coach last Friday afternoon, in an announcement made to the players. He was greeted by the players with a wave of cheers and applause.
“They gathered the team into a room on Friday after school,” Cadigan said. “Our athletic director, Matt Serino, made a pretty big deal out of introducing the new football coach. They applauded me and I got pretty choked up. It’s something I’ve been working toward for over 10 years.”
Cadigan has 16 years of experience as an assistant on Winthrop’s staff, working under former Vikings head coaches Tony Fucillo and Sean Driscoll. For the past 10 years, Cadigan has been the team’s defensive coordinator. He’ll hope his familiarity with the program works to his benefit as he gets things started in his new role.
“It’s pretty cool,” Cadigan said. “I felt like I’ve been sitting in a classroom for the past 16 years, learning. Now it’s exciting to show what I’ve learned.
“There’s an emotional investment in this for me,” Cadigan added. “I’m certainly emotionally invested in this town and this community.”
Cadigan is the fourth Winthrop coach in the past 60 years. Some of his goals include continuing the tradition established by his predecessors while developing a close relationship with Winthrop’s youth football program.
“One thing I hope to do is really connect with youth football in this town and get back on the same page,” Cadigan said. “It’s been tough not having a home field the past few seasons. We don’t make excuses but the younger kids haven’t seen a home game in a while. I’d like to bridge that gap with youth football. With our new facilities, there’s a lot of excitement in town.
Cadigan, who teaches physical education at Winthrop High, added, “I’m excited to get going and start a new chapter. There’s a lot of history in Winthrop. Three of the last four Winthrop coaches are Massachusetts Hall of Fame coaches. I’m just excited to add to that in any way I can.”
Serino believes Winthrop’s tradition of having longtime coaches directing the program is one of the aspects that makes the team, and the job, unique.
“That speaks volumes to what this program is,” Serino said. “It speaks highly of the dedication the players have to this program. It’s come full circle for Jonathan. That’s what makes this football program unique. He’s a testament to the dedication of the football program.”
The 2017 season was a tough one for the Vikings, who went 2-9 after starting the year on an eight-game slide. Cadigan feels the team will need to get back to the basics as it aims to bounce back in 2018.
“We were young last year so we’re a little bit older this season,” Cadigan said. “We just have to get back to fundamentals. You look at all the film, everything we did right and wrong, and it usually starts with blocking on offense and tackling on defense. It’s just about getting back to the little things. It starts with the fundamentals.”