When Nettie Graziosi-Hibbs went for the interview at St. Hubert High School, it had been a long time since she walked the halls of her alma mater.
About 10 years before she applied to be the coach of the Bambies soccer team, she played in an alumni basketball game. Since that game, she had moved away, coached a lot of teams, got married and started a family. A lot had changed since she was last at the school.
But one thing certainly didn’t change at all.
“I wasn’t there for so long, but as soon as I got there for my interview, it felt like home,” said Graziosi-Hibbs, a 1999 graduate of the school. “You can feel the history of the school. The soccer program has had so much success. I was proud to be interviewing for it.”
She did more than interview. She nailed it.
Graziosi-Hibbs, who has a long list of soccer achievements, can add being head coach of her alma mater to her resume. She replaces Mickey McGroarty, the only coach in the history of the program, who retired after last season.
A protege of McGroarty, Graziosi-Hibbs has done a lot since graduation from Hubert’s.
She played at Temple University, and then went on to play for the Philadelphia Liberty, also known as the Pirates, in West Chester and also played for the Hampton Roads Piranhas in Virginia Beach.
She’s a member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame and worked for the Next College Student Athlete as a women’s soccer recruiting coach helping players get into college.
She’s had other jobs, but she knows her passion is soccer.
“Soccer has always been part of my personal life and my professional life,” said Graziosi-Hibbs, a Torresdale resident who played soccer, basketball and softball during her high school days.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was 5. It’s just a different kind of sport, it’s different than any other sport. As much as I loved the other sports I played, soccer was always special.
“Soccer is a sport that’s easy to play, you just need a ball. You don’t even need a goal, you can make your own goals. It’s a sport that is a lot of strategy. It takes talent, but you can also win if you make the right plays.”
Since she left the school, Graziosi-Hibbs has stayed involved in soccer, but she also has done other things. She even played tackle football for a women’s league in Philadelphia.
“I played everything, cornerback, running back, kicker, even quarterback, punt returner,” Graziosi-Hibbs said. “I wasn’t a quarterback, but when we needed someone, I played there.”
Obviously, Graziosi-Hibbs has the toughness to be a good coach, but she also plans on making soccer at Hubert’s a fun experience for every player. She’ll use a lot of what she learned when she was a student at the school when she’s on the sidelines.
“Playing for (McGroarty) was fun,” Graziosi-Hibbs said. “You didn’t realize it when you were playing, but looking back, he would always tell us to shoot the ball. You hear it, and it makes sense because you have to shoot to win.
“I’ve learned more from (basketball coach Sue Sebold) than anyone, I think. She expected a lot out of us. She was a great basketball player, and she expected us to work hard. I think she wanted to shape us into great players. That’s what I’ll try to do.”
According to the school, it found the right coach.
Replacing a legend isn’t easy. McGroarty left big cleats to fill. Not only was he a successful coach, but he started girls soccer in the Catholic League. He will be missed, but the school thinks it found the perfect person to take the reins.
“We had an overwhelming response when we announced the opening for the soccer position at St. Hubert’s,” athletic director Ed Evanitsky said. “After interviewing many qualified candidates, Jeanette really stood out as the kind of person that we wanted to lead our team and keep up the winning tradition that Mick McGroarty had for over 40 years in the Catholic League. We feel that Jeanette has the experience and the enthusiasm that will work well with our returning players as well as the incoming freshmen.”
So far, that’s been the case.
“The girls aren’t anxious, but they’re excited to see how it’s going to go,” Graziosi-Hibbs. “I’m really happy to be giving back to my school. I want to get started and so do the players.
“St. Hubert gave me a chance to play soccer in college, it gave me a chance to play three sports in high school. It was very nostalgic, coming back, and I could feel the energy with the soccer program. You can feel the progress we’re going to make. I’m excited.”