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Q&A: Giuliano Celenza on pro career with Baltimore Blast, coaching kids at Gerstell Academy

Q&A: Giuliano Celenza on pro career with Baltimore Blast, coaching kids at Gerstell Academy
Gerstell Academy girls soccer coach Giuliano Celenza coaches from the sideline during during a scrimmage against St. Paul's School for Girls in Finksburg Tuesday, August 25, 2015. (DYLAN SLAGLESTAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Giuliano Celenza is about to enter his fifth year as Gerstell Academy’s girls soccer coach.

Celenza, a former University of Maryland Baltimore County and Baltimore Blast standout, grew up in Baltimore County and attended Archbishop Curley High School. He is the Friars’ all-time leading scorer, and won two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championships with the team.

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At UMBC, Celenza helped lead the Retrievers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1999, and was a two-time Northeast Conference Player of the Year and two-time UMBC Outstanding Athlete of the Year in 1999 and 2000. He was drafted by the Blast in the 2001 Maryland Indoor Soccer League draft, and played a role in winning five championships with the Blast. He retired in 2011 after compiling 426 points (309 goals) in 11 years.

Celenza was inducted into the Blast Hall of Fame in late February.

Last fall, he coached Gerstell to a 6-9-1 record in its first year of Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland play. The Falcons went 2-6 in the IAAM’s "A" Conference.

The Times caught up with Celenza to discuss his professional career, playing for his hometown team, and what coaching means to him.

Q: You played professional soccer with the Baltimore Blast from 2001-2011. What was that experience like and what are some of your most fond memories?

A: It was a great experience because it was always a dream of mine to play professional soccer. The most fond memories were winning five championships.

Q: Before joining the Blast, where else were you being recruited and what do you think made you stand out with the Blast?

A: I was being recruited by Division I colleges and the Baltimore Spirit, which was the professional team before changing its name back to the Baltimore Blast. What made me stand out was my ability to score goals.

Q: How much did it mean to you to play for your hometown team?

A: Growing up, I went to many Blast games as a whole with my family. It was always a dream of mine to play for my hometown team and I was proud to represent Baltimore in front of my family and friends.

Q: Can you describe your high school and college career leading up to playing for the Blast?

A: I went to Archbishop Curley High School and won two conference championships. I am the all-time leading scorer at Curley. After high school, I attended Essex Community College for two years and made all-American and all-JUCO Region 20 team. Then, I went on to UMBC where I was an all-American and all-conference player of the year two years in a row. Also, at UMBC, I won one conference title and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a coach and what do you hope to teach these young athletes?

A: The most rewarding thing about being a coach is watching your players develop and building relationships with players and their families. I hope to teach these young athletes the proper way to play the game as well as guiding them to become leaders on and off the field.

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