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Article Published June 7, 2019
Caplan Loves Helping the T-Birds Succeed
PJ Foti, Sports Writer

Liz Caplan is an art teacher at North Branford High School who’s also volunteered as an assistant coach with the girls’ tennis team for the past nine years. A former tennis player at Amity, Liz felt that joining the Thunderbirds would be a great way to stay involved in a sport that she loves.

“Having played sports for a long time and teaching, I have a love to teach. Whether it’s sports or art, you use a similar mindset,” says Liz, a North Branford resident. “When I started teaching in North Branford, with my love of tennis, I thought I could be a help for this tennis team.”

Liz learned a lot from then-head coach Mary Phillips when she first started coaching for North Branford. Now, Liz is part of a coaching trio that includes Head Coach Matt Tortora and fellow volunteer assistant Joe Capetta. Tortora says that Liz brings a plenty of experience and tons of wisdom to the T-Birds.

“I am constantly bouncing thoughts, ideas, or just about anything that I am processing off of Liz, and her feedback is always well thought out and with the best intentions. Not too many head coaches have the opportunity or luxury of having such a trustworthy and knowing assistant,” says Tortora. “Having someone like Liz on the courts allows me the unique opportunity to split players into groups and attack practices from many different angles.”

Liz has enjoyed working with Tortora since he became the team’s head coach three years ago. Liz believes that she and Tortora bring a nice balance to the North Branford court.

“I’m more old school. What Matt has brought to the table is his level of knowledge, how to work with people. He’s inspired these kids so much and inspired me as a coach and player,” Liz says. “He’s very talented and has a good sense of what they need to know. I try to be like a sponge with the things he brings onto the court.”

Liz has formed relationships with many players, but says she’s most proud to have had the chance to coach her daughter, senior captain Jordan Caplan, these past few seasons.

“It’s been a gift quite honestly. She is an incredible human being. She wants to learn, desires to get better, is a great leader, and I’ve learned a lot from her,” says Liz. “Really, just the relationships with the kids and teaching them how to get the best out of themselves is incredible.”

North Branford enjoyed a nice campaign that saw that squad go 11-6 and qualify for the Class S State Tournament this spring. It was a dream season for Liz, who’s worked hard alongside her colleagues to help the T-Birds succeed.

“I’ve seen their rise because of the hard work they’ve put into this. They see our hard work as coaches planning practices and clinics,” Liz says. “We have made it clear if you do this, you’ll see success, and that’s exactly what has happened.”

While she loves coaching, Liz still enjoys getting out to play the game. Liz competes in the United States Tennis Association’s adult program at the Madison Racquet & Swim Club.

“I play doubles and singles for their team. It’s a lot of fun,” says Liz. “It’s tremendous. I’ve met great people. The people are very passionate, and that’s what makes it fun.”