Roger Cantello joined the Avon Old Farms community in the fall of 2013 and he is entering his third year at the school. Originally from Hampton in west London, England, he attended Hampton School and played varsity soccer there. Whilst at the school, he captained Richmond Borough Schools and represented Surrey County. He also played for the youth team of Southampton F.C. who are currently in the English Premier League.
After high school and before university, Roger played semi-professional soccer in London at Molesey FC in what was then called the Isthmian League.
In 1980, Roger attended the University of Exeter in England to study English, and he broke into the First XI as a central midfielder in December of his freshman year. He held his place until the conclusion of his undergraduate studies, captaining the team in 1982-3. During his post-graduate year in 1984 as the elected Athletic Union Chairman, Roger concluded his playing career with a total of 53 goals from midfield - a scoring average higher than a goal in every three games. Exeter competed against semi-professional and professional club teams in western England, and they also played other British universities in the Universities’ Athletic Union national competition. For his outstanding services and commitment to the club, Roger was recognized with the prestigious Football Club Award; he was also inducted into the University of Exeter Sport Hall of Fame.
After university, Roger pursued a successful professional career in aviation and he continued playing, although his soccer career was interrupted by injury. Notably, he went on to captain and coach the Old Hamptonians - the alumni team which competes in the Amateur Football Combination in and around London. He guided them to their first promotion in a decade.
In 1995, Roger and his wife Diane moved to Portland, Maine. Switching careers from aviation to teaching did not prevent Roger from continuing playing and coaching soccer. In his first year in the USA, as a player, he was selected to play in the men’s Maine All-Star game, and as a coach he was appointed Freshman Coach at Deering High School and Assistant Coach on the boys’ premier team, Southern Maine United. The following year, he began teaching and coaching at Portland High School where the boys’ varsity roster boasted sixteen nationalities in twenty spots. Roger led the team to the Southern Maine Championship in 1997, while working on his Master’s in Education at the University of Southern Maine.
After relocating to Connecticut with his wife, Diane, and their two children in 2000, Roger returned to grass-roots coaching with the YMCA and Simsbury Soccer Club while teaching at the Ethel Walker School. He took over the coaching of the Simsbury Storm Boys team in 2011 and coached them to numerous local championships and regional tournament victories including the Connecticut State Cup in the fall of 2011. An invitation to coach the girls of the Ethel Walker School varsity team in 2012 allowed Roger to return to one of his passions - high school coaching.
Now in his third season as a member of the English faculty and Head Coach of the soccer program at Avon Old Farms, Roger has been charged with rebuilding the program at the school. His philosophy emphasizes appreciation of soccer and the development of the skills necessary for competitive team play at the highest level. As a self-described “purist”, he stresses the development of technical soccer skills, physical fitness, tactical awareness, and teamwork to win games, but he also places emphasis on good sportsmanship
, building team spirit, and the sheer fun of playing the game. At the core of his philosophy, Roger remembers the words of one of his greatest influences, Ron Greenwood, former West Ham United and England Coach: “Football at its best is a game of beauty and intelligence.”
With the able assistance of Coaches Brian Cugell and Keith Lee, Roger has carried on the school’s tradition of producing student-athletes ready to play at the college level. As the new season approaches, the coaching team are excited at the quality of the boys who will be representing the Winged Beavers in 2015.