NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Dave Dubbioso’s involvement in youth sports began like many other parents.
One of his two daughters picked up softball at a young age; he coached her through her little league years; traveled with her to clinics; and watched her play in high school.
“I got hooked on it with her,” Dubbioso said. “Just growing up on it with her and her drive with the sport. Basically, I tried to just stay behind her and keep pushing her.”
But what separates the North Salem resident from most other softball dads is that he stuck with the sport even after his daughter’s varsity career ended.
When Jessica Dubbioso went on to play softball at Sacred Heart University, her father started volunteering with the North Salem varsity team, assisting longtime head coach Bob Middlestadt.
“He is a softball junkie,” Middlestadt said of Dubbioso.
To avoid any appearance of favoritism, Dubbioso said, he did not feel comfortable coaching while his daughter played for the team.
“I wasn’t helping Bob through [Jessica’s] high-school career,” he said. “I would do the book for him on the side and that was it. Once she graduated, I became a legal coach with Bob. I thought that shocked a lot of people. They probably thought, ‘She’s gone, he’s not around anymore.’ Now I’m an actual coach.”
Despite being listed as a coach, Dubbioso is an unpaid volunteer.
“There have been a few parents who have said, ‘Why are you doing it?’” Dubbioso said. “It’s a hobby and it gives me something to do. I enjoy what I’m doing. Bob enjoys having me. And it’s fun.”
Dubbioso said he has fallen in love with the sport of softball.
“I prefer watching softball over baseball because it’s a faster sport,” he said. “It’s a lot more thinking, a lot more mentally involved. You’re dealing with a smaller field, quicker play. You hit a ball to the shortstop in the MLB, you can sit there have a cup of coffee and still throw him out. There’s a lot more room for error.”
Middlestadt retired from teaching last year but still coaches the varsity team. Dubbioso said his coaching career will likely end when Middlestadt’s does.
“I think Bob, when he retires, I retire,” Dubbioso said. “Whenever that day comes, that’s when the two of us hang up our hats. I don’t think I’d do it without him.”