Wildwood Catholic High School has a new athletic director. But now the school is in search of a new boys soccer coach.
Mike Saioni, who completed his 10th season as the school’s boys soccer coach earlier this month, has resigned from that position to become Wildwood Catholic’s new athletic director, which is a part-time position at the school.
Saioni has replaced Brian Haas, who resigned from the position last month to take a full-time job in the athletic department at LaSalle University.
Saioni, who also works for a local landscape company, officially began in his new position earlier this week.
“I’m involved in so many different things that when this first came up I didn’t think there was any way I could do this,” Saioni said. “But after spending a lot of time thinking about it with my family, I thought this was a good move as far as my own development and for my family.”
Saioni is a 1998 graduate of Wildwood Catholic, where he starred in soccer and also played basketball. After helping the Crusaders win three South Jersey soccer championships, he went on to a very productive four-year career at Lafayette College. He later became an assistant soccer coach at the Division I level for a few years before returning to the area and taking over Wildwood Catholic’s soccer program in 2008.
Saioni won his 100th career game as coach this fall. He finishes with a career mark of 106-68-9. He guided Wildwood Catholic to Cape-Atlantic United Conference titles in each of the past two seasons. The Crusaders also appeared in the 2016 South Jersey Non-Public B final. The 2017 season ended in controversial fashion when Moorestown Friends scored in extra time on a play during which Wildwood Catholic’s goalkeeper appeared to be fouled twice.
“I have a lot of emotions when it comes to our soccer program over the last 10 years,” Saioni said. “When I came back, I thought we had to reestablish a good culture around the program. We had always had some talent around the program but I thought we needed to build the culture.
“But things were different, too, because when I graduated we had almost 400 kids in the school and then when I came back it was closer to 200, so we’ve seen the environment change. We had to rebuild a little bit because we weren’t getting the volume of students we once were. But I think, like our school, the program has rebounded and rebounded with great force.
“I’m proud that we got back to a South Jersey final. But that’s also the part of me that feels like I failed in a way because I always wanted to win that South Jersey championship and we came up a little bit short in that. But I’m very proud of the people we’ve had in the program and how they’ve conducted themselves, and I’m proud that we’ve won two conference titles and won some big games and gotten some signature wins. So it’s unfortunate that we didn’t win a South Jersey title, but at the same time I think we did a lot of good things.”
Sainoi said he hopes to remain Wildwood Catholic’s athletic director for the foreseeable future.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Right now I’m getting in here and getting my hands around everything. I took this position with the intention of being here for the long term and not as a stop-gap or fill-in. When I made this decision to leave the soccer program, it wasn’t for a temporary position. Hopefully it all goes well and I perform well in the position and I enjoy the position and the school continues to have me moving forward.”
Saioni has also been a longtime coach in the Cape Express club soccer program. He said he is will coach through next summer but added that he will reevaluate his commitment to Cape Express prior to next scholastic year.
“We’ll see how everything goes,” Saioni said. “Right now I’m very committed to helping Wildwood Catholic the best I can. I’m excited for this.”
— Brian Cunniff