Athlete Spotlight: Hoosac Valley's Joe Delmolino
Hoosac Valley senior Joe Delmolino loves to play sports. Whether he's throwing a discus in the spring, shooting hoops in the winter or roaming the field as the Hurricanes' middle linebacker in football, Delmolino is a big fan of competing. With his football team out to a 6-0 start after a win on Friday at Belchertown, we invited the multi-sport star into The Eagle offices to talk about his transition to football, what he does outside of athletics, the go-to food spot, and plenty more in our latest Athlete Spotlight feature.
BERKSHIRE EAGLE: How did you start playing football? What's your earliest memory of playing?
JOE DELMOLINO: Actually, I started at McCann my freshman year. I was playing soccer — I had played soccer my whole life — and then right before the first game for soccer, I decided I didn't want to play anymore, so I quit soccer and started playing football. I transferred to Hoosac, then my football career just started going off.
EAGLE: What was it about football that made you want to switch over?
DELMOLINO: My friends played football, I didn't really like soccer, and I had always wanted to play football. It was always an interest of mine, but my mom doesn't like it and stuff.
EAGLE: When did you transfer from McCann to Hoosac Valley?
DELMOLINO: After my freshman year, so the beginning of my sophomore year
EAGLE: What was it like walking into that first Hoosac practice?
DELMOLINO: It was a little intimidating, because even after my freshman year I still didn't know much about football, I didn't know what was going on, and it was a tight-knit program. Everything was solid. It was a little intimidating, but I got used to it.
EAGLE: Was there a moment where you ever felt comfortable?
DELMOLINO: The start of my junior year. I lifted weights all summer, and I really felt like I was ready. I knew the playbook better and understood the defense and really felt like I was part of something good.
EAGLE: This year, you guys are off to an impressive start; what's been the key for you guys to be able to hit the ground running and rack up these wins?
DELMOLINO: Us working hard in practice every week, and knowing our opponent's game and how they are going to come at us, and just working hard in the games, having energy, having more energy than the other team, and just doing what we do.
EAGLE: Do you ever feel any extra pressure on the team? In the sense that sometimes when kids are on programs that have always been successful, you don't want to be that team to let everyone down.
DELMOLINO: There's a lot of pressure, because we feel like we can win our third Western Mass. championship out of four, and it can be something great. We want to be the team that does that, we don't want to be the team that messes it up.
EAGLE: What is Mark Harrington like as the head coach?
DELMOLINO: Mark is a great guy, he leaves a lot of the football stuff to the other coaches and he just guides us through practice, always making sure we hustle, all the old-school stuff: hitting hard, hustling, running everywhere. He's always got the right motivation, and he's always doing it for us — which I appreciate a lot.
EAGLE: You play all over the field in all three facets of the game; do you have a favorite position?
DELMOLINO: I love playing middle linebacker. It's the best thing ever. I love coming down my hole and just hitting kids. It's my favorite thing to do.
EAGLE: How'd you end up with kicking duties?
DELMOLINO: Obviously I played soccer, so I had the leg, and I just asked one day if I could kick field goals, and they said yes, and then I practiced. I practice every day before practice. Now, I'm just a good kicker.
EAGLE: What's the key to becoming a good kicker?
DELMOLINO: First of all, I work out. Every day that I'm not at football, so I try and stay strong and get stronger so I can keep kicking further. But mostly, it's all mental. If you're not thinking about it, if you just kick the ball, I believe it's going to go through.
EAGLE: What about middle linebacker do you like? And what's something that a middle linebacker does that people don't think they can do?
DELMOLINO: The reads that a middle linebacker has to make, when you are reading a guard or the fullback, it's easy to get tricked. And then you have to make it past the linemen to get to the running back. I just like middle linebacker, because you get to hit, you are in most of the plays and you are the general on the field on defense.
EAGLE: Do you have a middle linebacker in the NFL you try to emulate?
DELMOLINO: I don't actually watch a lot of NFL. I just try and stick to Hoosac stuff.
EAGLE: If you don't watch NFL, do you watch a lot of pro sports at all?
DELMOLINO: I mean, I don't really watch pro sports at all. I don't really watch anything, really.
EAGLE: Is that different? Traditionally, you'd heard football kids saying `yeah, I love the NFL, it's Sunday!' Is that different at all for you?
DELMOLINO: All my friends talk about it, and I'm kind of lost when they talk about it. But if my dad is watching the Patriots game, I'll sit there and watch with him.
EAGLE: What do you do instead? What are some things you like to do outside of high school athletics?
DELMOLINO: I like to go play basketball at the YMCA, or at an outdoor court. I love lifting, and just hanging out with my friends, usually.
EAGLE: For somebody who wants to start lifting, what's one core exercise that they need to learn how to do?
DELMOLINO: I love squatting. Squatting is good exercise.
EAGLE: What else do you do at school besides play sports? Are you in any clubs or activities?
DELMOLINO: I'm not. It's all sports. All about sports. I play three sports, and it usually keeps me busy.
EAGLE: How much does sports kind of rub off on the rest of your life?
DELMOLINO: For me, it affects my life in every aspect. I get morals that I didn't know, just always work hard and it will pay off, and just stay focused, stay away from things that can get you in trouble. Sports keeps me in line, I'm never getting in trouble. The coaches, I know what they do for me, my parents, I know what they do for me. It gives me respect for adults, and just a bunch of morals in life that help me. I feel like sports made me a much better person.
EAGLE: Any idea what you want to do after high school?
DELMOLINO: I definitely want to go to college. I'm looking to study business. I'm looking to do track, but maybe if I could be the kicker for a football team, that would be cool.
EAGLE: You mentioned track, and I wanted to get into that quickly; what's unique about track?
DELMOLINO: Track is, again, my friends were doing it, and I knew it would help for football, so I just tried it and I ended up being pretty good at the discus. Track, it's an individual sport, you get a lot of lifting, and it helps for other sports. It's a fun time.
EAGLE: What are some ways that track crosses over with football?
DELMOLINO: Definitely the sprinting. I do a lot of sprinting and running workouts. We also lift for most of the practice, and are getting stronger and getting better, and that helps for football a lot.
EAGLE: Be honest; are you ever scared in the discus pit that you are going to be hit by a stray one?
DELMOLINO: No, not really.
EAGLE: What's the go-to place for something to eat?
DELMOLINO: Definitely Hot Harry's. Coming down here, eating from all three of them, however many there are, we eat from all of them.
EAGLE: What's the go-to order?
DELMOLINO: I get a steak burrito. Supreme, with guac and sour cream.
EAGLE: Finally, you get to become president at Hoosac Valley for a day and you're allowed to make one rule change; what's the one rule change you make?
DELMOLINO: I have to think about this one. That you can get your gym changed. So I could go home 7th period on Wednesdays.
This interview was conducted, edited and condensed by Geoff Smith. Geoff can be reached at email@example.com.
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