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D'Aliso and SNF Staff Present The Top Gun Instructional Football Academy

December 18, 2009
Author: Phil Dusenbury
Publication Date: December 18, 2009
Training Center: Chester, NY

CHESTER - To say Pat D'Aliso has had a successful coaching career would be an understatement. He's won 10 Section Nine titles, taken his team to four state championship games and come away with a state title. In his 27 years of head coaching, he's won 199 games and a bushel of "Coach of the Year" awards. Now he's willing to share his and others' football expertise with all of Section Nine.

"People ask me why I want to give away my ‘secrets,'" he said after Monday night's open house at Frozen Ropes. "This isn't about giving away secrets. This is about building Section Nine football from the bottom up."

In order to do so, D'Aliso has teamed up with Frozen Ropes director Tony Abbatine to implement the Top Gun Instructional Football Academy (TGIFA). Frozen Ropes is a sports complex and athletic training center on Elkay Drive in Chester. D'Aliso is now the Director of Football Operations there. He'll work with his assistant director, Bernie Connolly, and a hand-picked group of successful local coaches to teach developmental football skills to players from youth football through the high school varsity levels. The first sessions are scheduled to begin on January 2nd and 3rd .

"People around the state are realizing that New York football is about 10 years behind everybody else, and Section Nine is behind most of the other sections in New York," D'Aliso told an interested group of primarily youth football officials and some booster club representatives. "We're not just interested in working with the younger kids but with all ages."

TGIFA will start off with sessions in the Quarterback Training Camp (age groups 8-10, 11-13 and 14 & up) and in Wide Receiver Training Camp (age groups 8-13 and high school). Each session consists of six hour-long classes that run on consecutive weekend days. Eventually there will be additional sessions to introduce kids aged 5-7 to football.

Warwick head coach James Sciarra, the architect of this past season's record-breaking Wildcat passing attack, will run the Quarterback Training Class while Mike Connolly, the M-W varsity receivers coach, will direct the Wide Receiver Training Camp. The cost for each six-week session is $95, quite a bargain for first-rate, hands-on expert instruction.

"(Frozen Ropes) gives us a great opportunity to go year-round," Bernie Connolly, M-W's well-known defensive coordinator, told the group. "It solves the old problems of how do we go year-round, where do we get facilities and how do we find spots in any facilities that are around."

"Fifteen years ago when Frozen Ropes first opened, I came here as a high school student," said Coach Sciarra. "Now it's come full circle. Now we have the chance to work on football year-round. In our quarterback camp we'll be able to deal with all the proper mechanics of the position in addition to passing and handing off."

Coach D'Aliso asked for suggestions from the open house attendees and smiled when he heard requests for youth football coaching clinics and for sessions in offensive line and defensive secondary skills.

"Everybody loves to tackle but not too many kids are interested in blocking," said one youth football coach.

Nods of agreement came from every level of coach in the room. So D'Aliso was happy to introduce his veteran line and special teams coach at M-W, Jim Hintze, who will be working with linemen in future sessions.

"We're here in part to create good competition (among Section Nine Football)," said Hintze who was an all-star lineman for the Crusaders in the late 70's. "The level of teaching has improved so much over the last 30 years."

Also on hand was another very familiar face and impressive physique. M-W grad and excellent football coach Devon Hoover, now down in Scarsdale, is a certified strength and conditioning coach who will also be on the TGIFA staff. The other staffer announced was Minisink Valley head coach Kevin Gallagher who was unable to make the open house because his Warrior wrestling team had a match.

"We're trying to develop athletes here. We're interested in developing our kids on the psychological and social levels as well as on the physical. Character development is very important," D'Aliso said. "In addition to football skills we'll integrate all the athletic skills like balance, agility, flexibility, running, strength and hand-eye coordination. It's not just about playing any more."

Abbatine was also proud to help D'Aliso show off some of the video equipment and software that will be available for player video analysis. Additionally, D'Aliso announced that TGIFA plans to have the NFL Player Development Program make a visit, perhaps as early as June. And that program won't cost mom and dad a penny.

Asked about having sessions in kicking, Abbatine was happy to tell the group how he had met Eric Schubert, the former Giant kicker and a resident of the Valley Central district. He also related that Schubert said he would be happy to instruct kickers at Frozen Ropes if the occasion ever arose. Well, it looks like that moment is approaching.

"I believe in this program and am sending my players to it. Our goal is to develop Section Nine Football from the bottom up. Most coaches are aware of our situation and know what has to be done to become more competitive," D'Aliso said. "And it all begins with local youth football. It starts down with you (youth coaches). Youth football is our foundation, and we (high school coaches) need to give back to you."

The 21st Century has seen Section Nine Football slowly but surely follow the path that other sectional sports (wrestling being a good example) have taken. The rivalries are all still there but so is a new camaraderie amongst coaches and players and their willingness to share ideas and even to help local opponents improve. Being the best you can be entails more than just sitting atop a tiny pumpkin in a small, un-nurtured patch.

For more Top Gun Instructional Football Academy details you can go to: http://www.therocksportspark.com