DeStefano Selected as New Boys Basketball Coach at KP

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
November, 2018
Article Body: 

Dave DeStefano is the new boys basketball coach at King Philip and he’s no stranger to the Warriors’ program or the Hockomock League.
The 31-year-old Attleboro native spent the last three years as Foxboro High’s junior-varsity coach and he also served as a volunteer assistant for seven years at Bishop Feehan, his alma mater. DeStefano, who’s coached against KP’s jayvees, is acutely aware of the teams that compete in the Hockomock circuit and he’s well-versed on the kind of effort needed to be successful in both the Kelly-Rex and the Davenport Divisions.
DeStefano, who was selected for the KP job in July, replaces Mark Champagne, whose squad posted a 4-16 record last year and was unable to qualify for the playoffs in the two seasons he directed the Warriors.
“I’m excited and eager to get started,’’ DeStefano said. “I was pleased the way the interview process went and I felt my goals and athletic philosophy matched up well with what KP was looking for.’’
DeStefano is well-qualified to lead a varsity squad. As Foxboro’s jayvee coach, his primary emphasis was on player development. And, during his three years in that role, Foxboro High’s varsity won two of three Davenport Division titles. As a volunteer assistant at Feehan, he displayed an intense desire to learn coaching techniques.
“My best record as Foxboro’s jayvee coach was 10-10,’’ DeStefano noted. “My main focus was to get players ready for the varsity. At Feehan, I wanted to make those seven years a great learning experience. I worked for Matt Freeman, who was my coach when I played at Feehan. I needed to sharpen my coaching skills and find out if coaching was in my DNA.’’
Another asset that’s a testament to DeStefano’s readiness to lead a varsity team is the role he filled when he was at Springfield College. Majoring in sports management, he worked as the school’s Director of Basketball Operations all four years as an undergraduate and was viewed as a high basketball IQ type.
“My duties included breaking down film and exchanging film with other schools,” DeStefano recalled. “I also went on recruiting and scouting trips. I basically was a student working in an administrative role.’’
DeStefano’s goals at KP are admirable. He’s aiming to fully develop his players’ abilities and he’s also aiming for a tourney berth. “We’ll work on player development and strive to be better every day,’’ he said. “We’ll work to win every game but the focus will be only on the game at hand. As far as the playoffs go, we can get there. It’s a lofty goal but it’s realistic and it can be achieved.’’
One of DeStefano’s strengths includes an ability to encourage and build confidence in his players. His penchant for preparation, his high basketball IQ and his emphasis on basics are other plusses that no doubt will rub off on his players and produce an atmosphere of perseverance and mental toughness.
The attributes he desires in candidates aiming to be on his roster reveal that DeStefano has been influence by coaches with old-fashioned virtues.
“I want players who are confident, have an unselfish attitude and who hustle and work hard,’’ he emphasized. “Making mistakes and learning from them build confidence. Basketball is a team game and an unselfish attitude strengthens what’s really a family. Players must applaud teammates and also be supportive. Hustle and a strong work ethic are necessary if we’re going to be successful in the Hockomock League.’’
DeStefano, who watched some of his prospective players in summer league ball, met his team formally in late September. They learned that their new coach will focus heavily on defense. On offense, he prefers an up-tempo style.
“I learned long ago that if you can hold your opponent to 50 points or under, you give yourself a chance to win,’’ he noted. “I’ll stress the importance of defense, but on offense, I like to push the ball up court. Doing that prevents an opponent from getting set on the defensive end.’’
DeStefano, who’s married and lives in Attleboro, was a three-sport athlete at Feehan. He was a tight end in football, a forward in basketball and he threw the javelin and shot put in track. He was part of three Super Bowl championship teams.
While at Feehan, which draws students from many cities and towns, DeStefano understood that geographic aspect, especially during his tenure as a coach. At KP, he’ll be coaching student-athletes from three towns. “I had experience with that at Feehan and I see that as a plus at KP,’’ he said. “I’m fortunate to be able to draw candidates from Norfolk, Wrentham and Plainville.’’
DeStefano plans to get involved with the youth programs, viewing that venue as a key to future success at the varsity level. “I’ll get involved and our players will work with the kids at clinics,’’ he said. “Youth league players respect varsity kids and it’ll be great to get our guys involved at that level.’’
DeStefano rates Franklin and Mansfield as the teams to beat in the Kelly-Rex Division but he doesn’t discount the tenacity of Attleboro, Taunton or Oliver Ames. “Franklin and Mansfield played for the state title last season,’’ he noted. “They’re traditionally strong. And, Attleboro, Taunton and O.A. have a solid core of players returning.’’
DeStefano relies on a philosophy that “if players are having fun and reaching their potential, then winning will be the by-product.’’ He also embraces valuable life lessons that athletics teach. “Accountability, commitment, communication and a team-first attitude are excellent life lessons that players can learn through sports,’’ he emphasized.
DeStefano, whose KP contingent will open its season on Dec. 11 at home against Sharon, is optimistic about the Warriors’ prospects. “Our players are hard-workers who want to improve,’’ he said. “And they’ve got a desire to win. We want to create a culture of success.’’
Dave DeStefano may be a rookie head coach but his perspective on what makes a basketball team tick is rock solid.