Piazza Steps Down after 27 Years as Head of Track and Field Program
May 9, 2013
EASTON, Pa. - Julio Piazza, who has served as the head track and field and cross country coach at Lafayette for 27 years, has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2013 school year.
Piazza, who has been selected by his peers as the Patriot League Coach of the Year in either track and field or cross country on eight separate occasions, has coached hundreds of student-athletes in parts of four decades. During his tenure, the men's indoor track and field set new school records in 16 of 20 events while the women's indoor team managed new marks in 18 of 20 events. In the outdoor competition, Lafayette established new records in 15 of 21 events and the women did so in 19 of 21. Piazza held a .600 winning percentage against Lehigh on the women's side, combining cross country and indoor and outdoor track, and boasted a 17-10 mark (.629) on the men's side against the archrival indoors.
"Coach Piazza has been a stalwart member of the Lafayette community and he has our deepest thanks and appreciation for his 27 years of service to Lafayette," said Lafayette Director of Athletics Bruce McCutcheon. "Julio's practice of student-focused learning has made a significant impact on the lives of countless students that have come to College Hill. We thank Julio for his unwavering commitment to his student-athletes and wish him and his family all best wishes in his retirement."
Piazza has overseen the recruitment and development of multiple school record holders and NCAA qualifiers in his time at Lafayette. His most recent coaching accolade came in 2008, when he coached Lafayette's women's indoor track and field team to a second-place Patriot League finish.
"I want to thank the College and Bruce for all the support that they have given me and the program since I've been here," Piazza said. "I also want to thank all of the assistant coaches that I've had during my years here at Lafayette. The one common trait that they all share was a passion for track and field. Because of that passion, they have enabled the team members to have an outstanding undergraduate experience."
"I feel very fortunate that throughout my years here I've had the pleasure of coaching some outstanding athletes. The one thing that stands out in my mind is how hard all of the athletes have worked while they were here. That's a compliment to them because one of the hardest things that an undergraduate can do is be an outstanding student-athlete. The time commitment that they have to make in order to succeed in both realms is extraordinary."
"The thing that I am going to miss the most is the day-to-day camaraderie that you have with the student-athletes and working toward a common goal," Piazza continued. "The best part of every day was coming down to practice and being with the kids on the team."
In 2006, he earned his third Patriot League Women's Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year award, after a third-place finish at the Patriot League Championships. He previously won the award in 1996 and 1991. He also was recognized as Men's Outdoor Coach of the Year in 1997. In the same year, Piazza garnered his first Men's Indoor Coach of the Year honor, an award he has won three times (2002, 2003).
At the helm of the cross country program, Piazza was selected as the Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1993, following the Leopards' first Patriot League Title. Piazza also led Lafayette's women's track and field team to four East Coast Conference Indoor and Outdoor Championship crowns in 1986-87 and 1987-88.
Prior to arriving on College Hill, Piazza served as assistant coach for cross country and track and field at the University of Pennsylvania. He helped guide Penn to five Ivy League track and field crowns, and back-to-back Heptagonal Outdoor titles. The Quakers women's cross-country team also reached the NCAA Championships in 1981.
An eight-time All-Ivy middle distance runner, Piazza graduated from Penn in 1972 and still holds two relay records. He and his wife, Cheryl, reside in Bethlehem, Pa. and have two children. Matt is a 2012 graduate of Lafayette and Katie is slated to complete her Lafayette degree later this month.