Hernani Branco served as men's soccer coach for 15 years, inducted to Stonehill Athletics Hall of Fame
OBITUARY (includes arrangements)
EASTON, Mass. (December 9, 2013) – The Stonehill College community is saddened by the sudden passing of Hernani "Ernie" Branco a member of the Athletics Hall of Fame and former men's soccer coach at the College.
"The entire Stonehill community is deeply saddened by the sudden death of Ernie Branco," said Paula Sullivan, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation at the College, who worked with Branco both as a fellow coach and athletic director. "He was a wonderful human being who loved life and was an extremely positive and fun loving individual who had a tremendous impact on the lives of so many of our alumni, particularly former men's soccer players. My sincere condolences go out to his wife, Jennifer, and their three beautiful children, but also to our many former student-athletes and athletic staff members whose lives he touched."
Branco, who died from injuries sustained in a single car automobile accident in his hometown of Norton, Mass., on Sunday, served as head men's soccer coach at Stonehill for 15 years from 1984 through 1998 and was inducted into the College's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004. He led the Skyhawks to a 151-118-25 (.556) record over his tenure with four Northeast-10 Conference Championships.
"My thoughts and prayers are with Ernie's family and countless friends," said Jim Reddish, '96, men's soccer coach at Stonehill, who was a four-year student-athlete at the College for Branco. "More important than the records at Stonehill, Ernie was beloved by many as a mentor and a friend. He was one of the most charismatic individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. It meant the world to me when he told me how happy he was that I was the coach at Stonehill now. His compliments and well wishes were so genuine, and he was still recommending players for me last month."
Branco's 1985 squad posted a 14-6-1 record overall, including a 7-0-0 clip in the then Northeast-8 to capture the first Conference Championship in program history. That team was led by recent Hall of Fame inductee, Rich Scafati, '88, who would earn NE-8 Player of the Year honors, while Dan Quinn, '90, was named Rookie of the Year and Branco collected Coach of the Year honors. Stonehill went on to win both the Northeast-10 regular season and tournament championships in 1990, posting a 13-5-2 overall mark and 7-1-1 clip in the NE-10 before defeating arch-rival Bentley University, 2-1, for its first tournament title in program history. Fellow Stonehill Hall of Famer Andy McMahon, '92, who would become the program's first All-American, was named the Conference's Player of the Year, while Jason Hammond was Rookie of the Year. Stonehill won a second-straight NE-10 Tournament crown in 1991 with a 3-2 win over Bentley and finished the year with a 15-5-1 overall record, including a 6-3-0 Conference mark.
Branco's 1990 squad won both the Northeast-10 regular season and tournament championships.
Branco coached a total of 27 All-Northeast-10 performers over his career at Stonehill. He recruited three NE-10 Rookies of the Year and had two NE-10 Players of the Year as well as McMahon, an All-American. His teams finished under .500 in Conference play just three times over his 15 seasons, qualifying for the Conference tournament 11 years.
"Ernie's passion, loyalty, honesty, and his humor were captivating," continued Reddish. "He made us run, but he made us laugh. Other times, we feared him as he yelled from the sideline, but the next minute he was our biggest fan and best friend. He pushed us to the limit to make us better and we gave our best in return for him. In the end, we all knew he meant well and wanted the best for all of us, had our backs at all times and truly loved us. We lost a one-of-a-kind special friend, but he, without a doubt, will be remembered by all of us."
Branco is survived by his wife, Jennifer, daughters, Tiffany and Morgan, and son, Jordan, as well as his mother, Maria, brother, Paul, and sister, Elizabeth. In addition to his time at Stonehill, Branco was a retired educator in the Brockton school system, coaching soccer at Brockton High School, where all three of his children attended. He was inducted into the New England Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005 and served as the U.S.S.F. National Referee Emeritus and New England Revolution liason to Major League Soccer. Branco was also actively involved in Norton Youth Soccer, directing a Norton Youth Soccer Clinic with his son.
(Added December 10, 12:30 PM)
All are welcome to calling hours Saturday, December 14th and Sunday December 15th from 1-7 p.m. in Waitt Funeral Chapel at Waitt Funeral Home, 850 North Main St., Brockton. Funeral Mass Monday, December 16th at 9 a.m. in St. Edith Stein Church, Brockton and burial at Melrose Cemetery, Brockton. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Ernie Branco Scholarship Fund, Harbor One Bank.