The long hours a football coach puts into his job is no myth. Dan Letteriello discovered that soon enough.
That was the initial impression Letteriello had on his introduction to coaching. Letteriello noted that his contract says he works 25 hours a week. That drew chuckles.
“I never realized how many hours coaches put in as a player,” he said. “We were the first ones in the office and the last one’s to leave. … It’s definitely a grind, but it’s awesome.”
One can expect the demands on Letteriello’s time to be greater this year. The Mattituck High School graduate was named the offensive coordinator and coach of quarterbacks for Westfield State University in Massachusetts this past March. It’s a big step for a 24-year-old who was the NCAA Division III team’s running backs coach and special teams coordinator last year.
Letteriello played quarterback and linebacker for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck, helping the Porters to the playoffs his senior season in 2009. He was an All-Division player for three of his four years on the varsity team.
As a player, Letteriello went to Westfield because he was told he would play quarterback, which he wanted. Other schools wanted him as a linebacker.
Playing for Westfield was an education for Letteriello. “I thought I knew football coming into college,” he said. “I realized my freshman year I didn’t know anything. There’s always something new to learn.”
Following his playing career, Letteriello, who earned a master’s degree in public administration this past May, found that coaching is a way to stay involved in football. He became a student of the game.
Halfway through Letteriello’s senior season at Westfield, with head coach Steve Marino about to retire, his successor, defensive coordinator Pete Kowalski, talked to Letteriello about becoming a graduate assistant. Letteriello liked the idea.
“It’s a unique thing to be able to coach with that passion and teach what you know and pass it on,” he said.
Letteriello is still learning. A white board is kept for drawing up plays in an apartment he shares with two other assistant coaches.
Now, the responsibility of running an offense falls on his shoulders.
“To be 24 and to be an offensive coordinator of a college team is incredible,” he said. “It’s a real big step and I’m sure it’s a step that a lot of [graduate assistants] don’t really make.”
Letteriello was involved in running a three-day youth camp that ended last Wednesday. Monday was the first day at the office for coaches. Players will report to campus for preseason training on Aug. 12 to begin preparing for the season opener at home against Nicholls College on Sept. 2.
Among those players is expected to be a former Porter, Dominick Panetta, who Letteriello recruited himself. Panetta is projected to be a tight end or H-back. He caught 19 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns for the Porters last season. Defensively, he made 27 tackles (five for losses), intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.
The Owls hope to improve from their 2-8 record of last year.
Football coaching seems to be a good fit for Letteriello. Asked what his least favorite aspect of the job is, he thought for a while before answering, “I don’t think I have one.”
He said, “When people ask me how I’m doing, I say, ‘I’m living the dream.’ ”
Photo caption: Former Greenport/Southold/Mattituck player Dan Letteriello is the new offensive coordinator for Westfield State University in Massachusetts. (Credit: courtesy photo)