After several years away from the Mt. Hope gridiron, the school’s former football coach has been named the team’s newest coach. And in that role, T.J. DelSanto, knows he has his work cut out.
To his credit, Mr. DelSanto led the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2004 and it was in 2006 that the Huskies last beat their Thanksgiving Day rivals, the Barrington Eagles.
He hopes to reinvigorate the program and turn football players into student athletes. It all comes down to preparation, including giving the students athletes the tools they need to succeed.
One example is the high school gym and weight room, which is open during the off season but under-utilized, he said.
“The biggest challenge is going to be changing the culture of athletes,” he said of his role. “There are all these great things going on here, but the kids don’t take advantage of it.”
On Monday, July 21, Mr. DelSanto and his coaching staff worked on passing and catching with a dozen varsity players. While the majority of the team is made up of sophomores and juniors, they are “energetic, enthusiastic and eager to learn,” he said.
“We’ve got youth and inexperience in a lot of spots,” he said of the 2014 team. “You build skills over time.”
To the team’s advantage, assistant coaches George Andrade, Henry Cabral and Jason Proulx bring personal connections with the athletes from their days on Pop Warner teams and other youth sport programs.
“I’m happy with this staff,” he said.
On the practice field this week, Mr. DelSanto led by example, running the routes he wanted his athletes to learn, and complementing them on a job well done when the job was well done. If not, he also reminded them why they were there on a hot summer afternoon.
On August 14, the team will have their first practice session with all positions on the field.
“I’m going to be honest and open. I want them to be able to compete against any team, any season. I want us to be the program that everyone wants to be,” he said.