2017 Pioneer football players took on a tall task of filling a lot of open spots with not many returning players. We had 30 kids on our football team who all wanted to be there. With a new head coach who just came on board in late April, we had a lot of things to do without much time. Most people would say being on a 1-9 football team would be no fun and, at times, it wasn’t, but it was the most grueling and eye opening season for most of my brothers that shared the field with me. We learned how to work hard, how put our souls, bodies and hearts into every practice and into every rep and how to make the most of a daunting situation.
As a captain and starter on a losing football team, you think about the problems that occur constantly. You go to bed with it on your mind and wake up every day trying to fix it. When you go 0-8, fighting every single day and working hard with nothing to show for it, it was easy for me to think of basketball instead. To pass by the time and look ahead. But when football has been a massive part of your life and you are looking at your last couple of games putting on pads, the only option is going out strong and making it memorable. When you have a coaching staff in the Parlavecchio family, and NP legends such as Coach Cattano, Coach Brodeur and Coach Steve Siracusa that push you to keep going, you never want a season to end. You want to live up to the legacy that was left before you from all sorts of fantastic football players. You want to live up to Coach Bottone. Anybody who has any knowledge of New Providence football knows the legacy he left behind. Unfortunately, I only had the pleasure of talking to him a couple of short times and I couldn’t say I knew him well. But his booming voice and endless energy along with the love he gave to all his players made me want to add to the legacy Coach Bottone and Coach Carpenter left behind.
Unfortunately, Coach Frank Bottone lost his life at the age of 86 on November 9, 2017. The loss of the historical coach hurt the community and shook our team to its core. We felt responsible to finish our season for him; to fill his legacy. We dressed up the entire team, loaded onto a bus, and attended the wake with heavy hearts. We left the wake with a new feeling of determination and drive that powered us to win our last two games of the season. The week of his passing, we played Dayton on their field and drove our way to our first and only win of the season in the name of Coach Bottone.
This was my most moving and memorable moment of high school that I will carry with me forever. I thank my team and coaches for going out everyday and believing in the family we created. I want to thank Coaches Chet and Mark Parlavecchio for bringing in the new era of Pioneer football. The lessons they have taught me will be applied to my life every day. I am beyond thankful to have been under the guidance of two men like them. I am thankful to represent the green and gold and all it stands for and I am happy to forever be a New Providence Pioneer.
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