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Meet Aliquippa head coach Mike Warfield's most valuable assistant – The Times

ALIQUIPPA ― Fresh off his second state championship with a bulk of his roster returning, it’d be fair to say Aliquippa football head coach Mike Warfield has everyone he could possibly need to get through the upcoming season.
If the Quips need a few yards on the ground, Warfield can hand the ball off to sophomore running back Tiquwai Hayes, who was named a freshman All-American by MaxPreps last fall. Need a stop on third down? Sounds like the job for four-star junior linebacker Cam Lindsey, or perhaps one of the other four starters on his defense with Division I offers.
Having trouble figuring out the other team? No worries! The Quips have more members on their coaching staff than some programs have players on their JV team. And if there is ever a need for something off the field ― literally anything ― Warfield has someone who can handle that too.
Her name is Susan Cipriani Capel.
“She’s involved in practically everything other than coaching,” Warfield said of his right-hand assistant. “Me and her collaborate on everything. If something needs posted on social media, promoted, or we need to raise money for something, she’s who I always go to.”
Susan Cipriani Capel isn’t an Aliquippa alum. None of her three children graduated or even attended Aliquippa. Yet, all it takes is one conversation to notice her overwhelming amount of Quip pride.
Her connection to the red and black starts with her parents, who both graduated from Aliquippa in the 1950s. Despite graduating from Center high school ― not to be confused with Central Valley, who she views as a rival like every other Quip fan ― Cipriani Capel grew up supporting Aliquippa athletics, along with the community as a whole.
When she moved to Aliquippa in 1999, that support only intensified. Year by year, Sue, her husband Kelly and their kids were regulars at Carl A. Aschman Memorial Stadium on Friday nights. In 2008, she and Kelly took in her nephew Devin Polzot, who provided her first connection to the school’s athletic program after having a standout football career. Cipriani Capel said she wanted to get involved, to help out any way she could. But for one reason or another, things didn’t work out.
“They had a different way of doing things back then,” Cipriani Capel told the Times. “I made it clear that I was willing to offer my help however I could, but it never led to anything. Not back then.”
A few years later, when her oldest daughter Alee ― a Lincoln Park student ― ran track for Aliquippa, Sue finally got her chance to start pitching in, becoming a valuable asset to long-time track head coach and current Ambridge football head coach Sherman McBride.
As time went on, “Miss Sue,” would become a regular within the Aliquippa athletic community. Yet, even with providing help to a few teams, she felt there was more that could be done. And in 2018, with the arrival of a new head coach, she was given that opportunity.
Warfield has nicknames for many of those he works with day-to-day. Long-time assistant Dan Short is known as “Peep”, starting quarterback Quentin Goode is known as “Cheez.” Cipriani Capel also has a nickname, and it comes from the woman Warfield loves most.
“My wife actually calls (Cipriani Capel) my football wife,” Warfield said with a laugh. “I probably talk to her more than anyone else during the season.”
Warfield met Cipriani Capel right after he was named head coach at Aliquippa in 2018. Just weeks into getting started, the the 2021 Pennsylvania Football Writers’ Coach of the Year sat down and made a list of things he hoped to achieve. Toward the top of it was fundraising. Assistant coach J.R. Gilliam told Warfield he knew just the person for the job.
“I remember telling a few coaches that I wanted to take over the team’s social media,” Cipriani Capel said. “When I first met Mike, I asked him who was running the team’s new Facebook page, “Quip Nation,” because it needed some help. I told him I wanted to take it over and try to do a better job.”
After getting the opportunity, Cipriani Capel did just that. With the aid of a few of her trusted helpers, her team has provided Aliquippa athletics with assistance that it hadn’t ever seen prior.
Today, the page has over 6,000 followers and is filled with posts highlighting press clippings of current players, promoting upcoming fundraisers, rounding up volunteers to help run the concession stand and organizing a list of people who’d like to buy the latest Aliquippa football gear.
The Facebook page has a few rules: no debating and no negativity. If Cipriani Capel or any of the members of her crew see you doing either one, you’re gone. The platform was created to help promote all the positive things that come from Aliquippa athletics and create an alumni network that could be relied upon when support was needed.
Cipriani Capel says she takes great pride in how the Facebook page has been able to do just that.
“It’s really exciting,” Cipriani Capel said. “To reach so many people, and to be able to help these kids in any way they need it is so great. It’s rewarding for all of us who work to make things better.”
The Quip Nation page is used for more than just quick FYI’s, shoutouts and reminders. It also served as a launch platform for major philanthropic efforts. One example would be the time Cipriani Capel spearheaded the selling of custom t-shirts with the funds going to help the recovery of Antonyo “Sunny” Anderson, an Aliquippa football standout who received life-altering injuries after being shot in the spring of 2021.
“I trust her because she really cares about this program,” Warfield said. “More importantly, she truly cares about every kid. It’s not just the football team, she’s involved in every sport. We’re really lucky to have her.”
Cipriani Capel is no longer a typical fan in the stands.
During Aliquippa home games, you’ll find her anywhere from the concession stand, to selling team merchandise near the stadium entrance, to running up things to coaches and media in the press box. When Cipriani Capel is around, she’s more than likely helping someone. And the people she’s helping most are Aliquippa’s student athletes.
“Miss Sue is just a human being who loves Aliquippa,” Aliquippa senior lineman Neco Eberhardt said. “She does a lot for our program and for every sport. She’s there to support us.”
“Our team loves Miss Sue,” Aliquippa senior lineman Naquan Crowder said. “She prepares everything for our gatherings when the team eats before game day. She’s a really big help to a few of the linemen, including me.”
Crowder is one of a select handful of players Cipriani Capel shares an extra deep connection with.
Years ago, when she began taking her own personal fitness more seriously, she decided to get others involved as well. Back then, it was just a few elementary school kids who were having trouble meeting the weight limit to play organized football. Little did she know, those young Quips looking to cut weight would turn into some of the top linemen in Pennsylvania.
Over the past few years, Cipriani Capel has been working with Crowder, Eberhardt and Jason McBride. Last fall the three anchored an offensive and defensive line that played a monumental role in their team’s WPIAL and PIAA titles. All three of the “Trench Dawgs” rarely left the field, starting on both sides of the ball. And part of the reason they were in good enough shape to perform at a high level for the entire game was because of, you guessed it, “Miss Sue.”
“I have a group text with the three of them,” Cipriani Capel said. “I’ll send them some words of encouragement, or just reach out to see where they’re at mentally.”
Even after the championships, the accolades and college offers, the three standouts still rely on Cipriani Capel to keep them focused in the offseason. As the three reported to camp on Monday, she was proud to point out that Crowder and McBride were both down 40 pounds, and Eberhardt was down 10 to 20.
“I stress to them that I don’t care about football or college,” Cipriani Capel. “I want them to be healthy adults. I always tell them that I want their 30-year-old self to thank their 17-year-old self.”
From nutritionist, to philanthropist, to social media manager to whatever else is needed, Cipriani Capel will approach each week of the 2022 season with her many hats, ready to help. The Quips have the coaches and the players to go after PIAA title No. 5.
And those coaches and players know whenever they need something, they have “Miss Sue” just a text message or quick phone call away.
Contact Noah Hiles at nhiles@gannett.com. Follow him on twitter @_NoahHiles.


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