Running off to the Ivy League!

DERON TALLEY @DeRonTalley
Ascension Catholic senior runner Zach Capello signed a national letter of intent on April 15 to run cross country and track at Yale University.

When you have an ACT score of a 34 and have won 13 State Championships and counting the old saying of “the sky is the limit” almost becomes an understatement. On Wednesday, April 15 Ascension Catholic senior Zach Capello proved he believed his parents when they told him the sky is the limit when he signed a national letter of intent to run cross country and track at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. It was something even he never thought would be made possible.

“I never thought I would be here signing like this. My dad went to Nicholls, my mom went to Nicholls and early on I thought I would likely be able to go run there, or just go to LSU and not run at all,” Zach Capello said, who is the son of Rocky and Kim Capello. “And there is nothing wrong with that. That was until something clicked and my dad’s training started working and he helped me with my ACT and I became a better runner and student through our duo of him being my coach and mentor and it opened up the biggest doors for me.”

Yes. Since the fifth grade Zach Capello has been under the leadership of a Rocky Capello who is the head coach of the Ascension Catholic cross country and track teams. And by the way, Rocky Capello is also Zach’s dad. Together the Capello’s dominated the 1A state championships in both cross country and track earning several team titles and many, many individual honors.

The work and dedication paid off. It paid off big time. Zach Capello is now going to the Ivy League.

“I visited Yale after LSU and I just fell in love with it,” Zach Capello said. “I remember texting my sister while I was there and told her I didn’t want to leave. The quality of the coaching and the rest of the team are on par with any other team in the nation and it’s hard to beat their academics. You can’t beat it academically and for me athletically either. Finding that perfect mix of athletics and academics sealed it for me.”

Zach Capello said to excel in both academics and athletics comes with committing your time in the right areas.

“When I’m at school, I’m paying attention and getting school work done. When I’m at the track or on the cross country field I’m running and working hard. You don’t fool around, and when you get home you still have time to enjoy and appreciate what you do,” Zach Capello said.

And for a father first and a coach second Rocky Capello said his goal when he started coaching his children was never damage the parent-child relationship as it’s most important.

“Fortunately Zach and I are best friends – I look at it that way and I hope he does,” Rocky Capello said. “He and I are just so close and we never lost that. As a coach, I’ll be losing the best athlete I’ve ever coached, the hardest working athlete I’ve ever coached and I think the athlete that all of my other athletes look at and say if I want to be really good this is the way I have to do it and this is the way I have to live, practice and everything. It’s going to be sad losing an athlete like him. But he is set in motion a lot of my younger kids in the right direction. Hopefully they carry to the following generations.”

After witnessing and helping Zach Capello be the best in the classroom and the best on the competing fields, Rocky Capello said still it’s “unbelievable” that his son signed to Yale University.

“I always had a dream of going to an Ivy League School but to have one of my kids do it is even better than if I would’ve done it myself,” Rocky Capello said. “(Zach) set really high goals for himself early on. We talked about what he would have to do academically and athletically to get in this position and he set his sights on it and never looked back.”

At Yale, Zach Capello said he doesn’t have to decide a major for two years but he will go into Molecular Biology with plans to go into Medical School.

Zach Capello added, “I’m really grateful at this opportunity. I never thought I would be in this position and I couldn’t be more proud of it.”

On the same day, Ascension Catholic senior golfer Tucker Landry signed a national letter of intent to Loyola University in New Orleans. Ascension Catholic principal Sandy Pizzolato said she “very honored I am to witness these two young men on their accomplishments.”

“Thank you both for everything you have given to this school. It was a true gift. Parents I know that I’m proud so I can’t imagine how proud you are. I wish you all the best in your next chapter of life. I cannot wait to see what is in store for you two.”