WASHINGTON — George Washington University has a new coach at the helm of the men’s basketball program. But Chris Caputo is no stranger to the D.C. area.
Caputo was an assistant coach under Jim Larranaga at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, for nine seasons before spending the past 11 years as an assistant under Coach Larranaga at the University of Miami. Chris Caputo and his wife Julie Caputo, are excited to return to Washington.
“You know getting off the plane and taking I-395 into town, and you sort of think about, 'Wow this is real' and obviously it’s exciting to be back," said Chris.
His wife added that the life of a coach can feel nomadic.
"I think as a coach’s spouse, to not feel like you’re starting over, and to know the area and to know the people, it’s really an incredible feeling to be coming back," she said.
Caputo has spent 20 seasons as an assistant men's college basketball coach. This will be his first as a head coach.
“When you go from being a 20-year suggester of things, and then you go home and put your head in the pillow, and say well I’ve made some good suggestions tonight, to now becoming the actual decision-maker where everything falls on you," Chris Caputo said. "But I think I’ve been well prepared by Coach Larranaga all these years, but I’ve always tried to think like a head coach, I think that’s the thing for all assistants. This all falls on me now, so I’ve got to be thoughtful as I go through my decision-making process."
Julie Caputo has been his biggest supporter throughout his coaching career, and while he feels pressure as the one in charge now, she also feels nervous whenever she watches him coach.
“I wish I could say that I was not," she said. "But I really don’t think there’s a coach’s wife out there that doesn’t get nervous."
But Julie Caputo is used to seeing her husband win. In his time with George Mason University and at the University of Miami, he’s been to the NCAA Tournament seven times, famously taking George Mason to the Final Four in 2006, and most recently helping to guide Miami to the Elite 8 last month.
“I think everybody gets into college basketball to participate in the NCAA Tournament, it's such a special event," Chris Caputo said. "I'm honored to be a part of it throughout the years, playing deep into it several times, and George Washington has done it here and gone to the sweet 16. It's a place that’s had some success and bitten the NCAA tournament, so we’re going to work to get us back."
Chris Caputo is already busy in his first week with a new program.
"It sounds like a cliché but [my goal] is to really just to have daily improvements," he said. "As you take over a new program you are sort of assessing a lot of different things and trying to see what we can improve upon, what we can look at as a strength."
Off the court, the Caputos are parents to two little girls, Lily and Charlotte.
“I think the thing I’m most excited about is raising our kids here," Juie Caputo said. "I mean could you ask a better place to raise your children? You know my daughter, just the other day, we took her to the White House to see it, and she goes 'I don’t want to be a princess, I want to be president' and I was like you can do that."
Their daughters will finish the school year in Florida and the couple plans to make D.C. their permanent home this Summer.