After Reading’s second Super Bowl victory in three years, some might use the words great, dominant, and unstoppable to define Rocket Football. The Rockets have become a powerhouse in the Middlesex League. Under head coach and social studies teacher Mr. Fiore, the Rockets have appeared in the Super Bowl three times, and have been victorious in two of those appearances. To create a great program like Reading’s, certain pieces are needed to create success. These pieces rarely come together overnight.
A Starting Point
Since 2008 the Rockets have not had a losing season. However, before 2008 the Rockets had not been able to get above .500 in Coach Fiore's first years. Coach Fiore said, “We had great talent coming through the program at that time (2008). He went on to say, “The four-and-seven year [record of the 2007 Rockets] was what turned out to be13 sophomores starting, which turned into the 2009 championship team.”
Talent does not always equal victory, though; a good coach knows how to get his players to buy into his system. Once Coach Fiore got the right talent, and the players to buy into his system, success has been breeding success. Sophomore safety Joe Pappalardo said, “ I think players buy into his system because it has been successful in the past. A couple Super Bowl appearances, Super Bowlvictories, and if you asked all the kids that have come out of the program what they thought, I don’t think you would get a bad review. It is a really strong program and everyone wants to be a part of it.”
“We try to live up to expectations.”
Success has become the standard for this program, but with success comes high expectations. Even trips to the postseason, though satisfying, aren’t quite enough. “I think the kids came in motivated because of the way the last two years have ended, even though we have had some good teams, we didn’t quite get all the way to the top. The kids that lost in the Super Bowl, or lost in the first round playoff last year were incredibly motivated to kind of finish the deal off, so that might have been the little extra edge that got them over the top,” said defensive coordinator and social studies teacher Mr. Blanchard.
Players want to get to the Super Bowl and win it. They know that in Reading, that is a reachable goal. “We want to be like the people in front of us, we try and live up to expectations, we want to be that next best team that people never forget,” said Pappalardo. It is clear the success that previous teams have had has trickled down to the Rockets who follow . For any team to be good there needs to be some sort of motivation. Success has been the motivation for the Rockets.
“You can always get better.”
Behind every great team is a great coach. If you ask Coach Fiore any question about how he has been able to build this program at Reading, he will tell you something about the work his players and coaching staff have put in. Pappalardo said, “Players like Coach Fiore. He is a fun guy at practice, and he is really good at loosening the mood.” Dealing with teenagers is no easy task (just ask my mother). Coach Fiore has been able to teach his players his core principle:“You can always get better.” If there is a formula for winning Mr. Fiore has figured it out and is using it to its fullest potential.
Looking To The Future
Howcan Reading Football stay as a powerhouse for years to come? “I think just consistency. You have to have message, have a plan, have philosophy,” said Coach Blanchard. Reading has no doubt put an X on their back for next year. Teams are going to want revenge. Can Reading sustain this high level of play?“I think so, probably because of the coaching, and the hard work of all the players,” proclaimed Pappalardo.
Every day of practice the players will be expected to put in 100% effort, expected to improve, and will be reminded the success that will come if hard work is put in. A football program could be compared to a puzzle. There is no way to complete it without all the pieces. Reading has all the pieces, and they have been able to put together a puzzle that shows success.