The New England Prep School Football Coaches Association presented Deerfield’s former football coach, Mike Silipo, with an honor only six other coaches have received in the organization’s history, on Monday, December 12.
The NEPSFCA committee elected Mr. Silipo to the Football Coaches Hall of Fame, topping off his illustrious 48-year career in the New England prep school league, consisting of over 200 wins and two Class A titles at Deerfield and Tabor Academy. It also makes him Deerfield’s first inductee for the award, adding his name alongside Mark Conroy from the Williston-Northampton School, Dave Coratti from Trinity-Pawling School, Moose Curtin from Hebron Academy, Kevin Driscoll from Avon Old Farms, Ken Hollingsworth from Tilton School, and Todd Marble from Kingswood-Oxford & Kent. Similar to how the Deerfield football team played in the Mike Atkins Bowl game this fall, in the coming years there will be a Mike Silipo Bowl game for prep school teams to play in.
While Mr. Silipo contributed to Deerfield in countless other ways, this award embodies his special dedication to the sport. “[Football] was the reason I came here,” he reflected. “Coaching such a high-intensity sport forged many great relationships … with players and fellow coaches.” He cited “the overtime championship win in 2002” and winning his two hundredth game as two of his most memorable moments at Deerfield.
Over 21 years at Deerfield, Mr. Silipo influenced his fellow coaches as well. Science Teacher Toby Emerson described Mr. Silipo as “the most important mentor in my 24 years of teaching”. Mr. Drew Philie ’09, who played for Mr. Silipo and coached under him, mimicked Mr. Emerson’s sentiments. He described Mr. Silipo as a “legend of Deerfield” because he “understands kids and knows how to get the most out of them in the classroom and on the playing fields. What makes him special is the effort and attitude he carries with him day in and day out.”
Mr. Silipo left a mark on many players still at Deerfield as well. Mr. Emerson notes that “the number of wins Mike accumulated over the years is impressive, but the real barometer of his greatness comes with counting the number of athletes’ lives he has influenced. … To play for and coach with Mike Silipo will make you a better person.”
Not only his fellow coaches noted how influential Mr. Silipo was. “I felt his presence a ton. He motivated the team. … I appreciated him and miss him as a coach,” commented this year’s football captain, Ollie Hollo ’18. “He deserves this induction … He’s one of a kind, a great leader, and there for everyone as a friend. If you ask around, you could see a ton of Mr. Boyden in him.”
One of the traditions that Mr. Silipo started for the football team is “milk and cookies.” On Friday nights before their Saturday games, Mr. Silipo would have the team come together to prepare, and of course, eat some cookies with some milk. Player Parker Luber ’18 reflects on this ritual as a way for “the team to come together and lock our minds onto the game the next day, but it’s also a time that is special because we reflect on past football teams and moments and share personal stories.” Even without Mr. Silipo on the coaching staff this fall, Coach Brian Barbato continued incorporating this impactful tradition into the culture of the team.
Mr. Silipo’s induction into the Football Coaches Hall of Fame is no surprise to both the players and staff he impacted in his time at Deerfield. According to Mr. Philie, “He tells me every day, ‘When you love what you do, Bud, you never work a day in your life!’”