SWAMPSCOTT — The Swampscott High School baseball team has found its new head coach.
Joe Caponigro, a former Big Blue assistant, has been tabbed to take over the program. His appointment was confirmed by Swampscott Athletic Director Kelly Farley.
“We’re very excited to have Joe on board,” Farley said. “He’s a long-term Big Blue guy. He’s coached here before. He was very successful at Lynn English. He cares about the kids. We’re very excited to see what he does with the program.”
Caponigro held two separate stints as an assistant coach at Swampscott. He served on Frank DeFelice’s staff from 2000-2004 and returned last spring to assist former head coach Jason Calichman, who stepped down from the role in June. Calichman spent six seasons as Swampscott’s head coach.
“Jason offered that I come on board with him,” Caponigro said. “Unfortunately he had to give it up because of the demands of his position and he has three young boys. He did a great job at Swampscott and I hope I can do the program justice following in his footsteps.”
In between his two stints at Swampscott, Caponigro spent 14 seasons as the head baseball coach at English High. Caponigro resigned at English shortly after the 2017 season. During his tenure directing the Bulldogs two of his players, Ben Bowden and Roberto Reyes, signed professional contracts. Bowden, a left-handed reliever, is currently in the Colorado Rockies minor league system.
A Swampscott native, Caponigro attended Swampscott High and graduated in 1978. In addition to coaching baseball with DeFelice, Caponigro also coached basketball under Brian Bagley. He played both sports in his days wearing the Big Blue uniform.
Caponigro credited his coaches for leaving a long-lasting impact on his life. He added that some of the lessons he learned playing sports are lessons he teaches his current players.
“It’s cliche to say that you can apply so much from athletics into life but it’s true,” Caponigro said. “I’ve had so many coaches who have helped me learn how to handle successes and failure, how to be a teammate. That correlates into the working world.
“Those are the lessons I want to teach the kids I coach,” Caponigro said. “I didn’t invent baseball. The important thing to me as a high school coach is to be as positive a role model as I can and try to help them develop in the game and in life.
“Coaches like Frank DeFelice, Fran York and Ron Leary, they all played a huge role,” Caponigro said. “I soon realized that I wanted to be a high school coach.”
One of Caponigro’s mentors through his coaching career, he said, is former North Reading baseball coach Frank Carey.
“Frank’s been like a mentor to me over the years,” Caponigro said. “I run things by him, I’ll call him. He has seen every situation baseball-wise and kids-wise. I’m thankful for everyone who has played a part in me getting this role in Swampscott.”
Caponigro inherits a Big Blue team that finished 11-10 last spring and qualified for the Division 3 North state tournament. Swampscott, the No. 13 seed, defeated No. 4 O’Bryant and No. 5 Latin Academy before watching its season close with a loss to No. 1 Austin Prep.
He said he’ll rely on his familiarity with the baseball program and the Swampscott community heavily moving forward.
“I’ve coached in all levels in Swampscott,” Caponigro said. “I’m very familiar with the administrators in various leagues and the kids themselves. I got to know the kids in the program last year. The familiarity does help and I’m looking forward to it. I’m really thankful to the administration at Swampscott, (athletic director) Farley, (interim principal) Larry Murphy and (superintendent) Pam Angelakis for giving me this opportunity.
“It’s something I’m really looking forward to and I’m really excited about.”
In addition to coaching at the high school level, Caponigro has managed the Swampscott Sox of the North Shore Baseball League for the past 34 years. Caponigro lives in Swampscott and works at Panakio Adjusters in Lynn.