Sports

Meridian Baseball Falls in Semis, Soccer Moves to Finals; Coach Spinello’s Farewell

The past weekend was a busy one for Meridian High School athletics as both the boys’ baseball and soccer teams competed in their respective semifinals of the Virginia State Tournament, the former of which was held at Spotsylvania High School while the latter was at nearby Courtland. Baseball fell 5-4 to Abingdon, ending their season one step short of the biggest stage, while soccer defeated Cave Springs 4-1 and advanced to the Finals, where they ultimately lost 1-0 to Yorktown’s Tabb High School.

But the big story of the weekend was that it served as the final act of boys’ soccer Head Coach Frank Spinello’s decorated career. Spinello led the program to 11 state titles and four additional Finals appearances during his 23 seasons at the helm, while being named the Virginia State Coach of the Year on five different occasions and the NSCAA National Coach of the Year in 2014.

His 2015 team was ranked number 2 in the entire country, the same year he placed fifth in USA Today’s “Best High School Coach in America” award across all sports, and several of his pupils over the decades have gone on to play in college as well as professionally, while others, such as Alex Fatovic at Northern Michigan University and Josiah Larson at Trinity Christian in Chicago, have entered the coaching realm themselves.

He retires with a career record of 220-26-8, having won more than 85 percent of his games, and of course, his impact is one that has reached well beyond the field, as in 2019 he received the USC award for Team Ethics and Sportsmanship.

“I just want to thank the Falls Church community for all their support over the past 23 years,” Spinello stated during a phone interview Tuesday.

“Our players have been amazing people to work with… they’ve achieved great things not just on the field but away from it as well, and each class we’ve had has enhanced the program and left it in better shape. That’s all a coach can really ask for.”

Spinello recalls his 2021 team’s title — at home in front of a packed crowd — as the memory he will forever look back on the most fondly of all, and he cherishes the relationships he was able to build over the years with people like assistant coach Nathan Greiner, who he credits for “making me both a better coach and a better person.” And as he reflects on his career as a whole, it’s not all the accomplishments and awards he thinks about, but rather everything he learned along the way.

“It’s more about the journey than the destination,” the coach summarized. “It’s more about the process than the championships.”

Coach Spinello’s presence on the sidelines — and in the Mustang community — will be greatly missed, and we wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.