History Corner: Basketball Coach Joe Cascio Lives On

By Natalie Ingalls, Layout and Design Editor

In a quiet school, devoid of students who have long since gone on break, the dribble of a basketball echos through the halls. Over the winter break, many students frequented the gymnasium to watch Falls Church compete in the Joe Cascio Tournament along with other Virginian schools. While this tournament is an annual event, students and even the athletes playing may not know the origin of the tournament and more importantly, it’s namesake.

Joe Cascio first made an appearance at Falls Church as the junior varsity basketball head coach from 2007-2009. Former varsity head coach TC Papageorge had been looking to add a member to his staff. He recommended Mr. Cascio, who had been his brother’s coach back when TC was in high school. “Joe was one of the first people I called and he enthusiastically accepted the position as head JV boys basketball coach.”

Ms. Jeanne Kelly, the Director of Student Activities, gave insight to the hiring process. “The head coaches look for coaches that they think are going to be a good match for their philosophy and their program.” Coach Cascio ended up being perfect for the team, and quickly became a favorite of the players. “He was very charismatic, and high energy. He was funny, and very passionate about basketball,” said Ms. Kelly. “When you watched him coach, he was one of the ones that would run up and down the sidelines, talking with the referees. He was so much fun.”

Unfortunately, in only his second season of coaching, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. This didn’t deter him from coming in when he could and acting as an Assistant Coach. His players were devastated, Mr. Papageorge remembers. “All of the players at Falls Church looked up to Joe as a father figure.” Ms. Kelly agrees, saying “Their love for him became obvious when he became sick.” He passed away in February of 2010.

A basketball tournament at Falls Church had been in the works for a while, and it was immediately proposed that it be named in honor of Coach Cascio. This past winter break, the 9th annual tournament commenced in honor of him. While the Jaguars did not win, his legacy lives on with the students who play the game he loves much.