Joe Aviola has been granted many gifts.
Fresh off leading Delaware Military Academy to the opening round of the DIAA Division II football playoffs in his second season at the helm, Aviola’s back as part the DFRC Blue-Gold All-Star Game after donning the Blue jersey as a player 31 years ago.
Aviola jumped at the opportunity to share and relive the experiences from 1982’s game as head coach of the 36-man Blue team set to take the field at the University of Delaware at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Imparting his wisdom to all 36 players is a blessing for Aviola, but one undoubtedly stands out – his son Joe Aviola III.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have this special bond here coaching at the Blue-Gold All-Star Game,” Aviola said. “The gift that I was given at 18 to learn about what the true mission of the DFRC will be implored not only on my son, but on the 35 other members of the Blue team.”
When Aviola III lines up at center on Saturday, he will be the first player to be coached by his father in the Blue-Gold All-Star Game since 2003 when Dave Hearn coached his son Travis on the Gold squad.
Aviola III, who was under his fathers’ tutelage for four years – two as head coach – at Delaware Military Academy, said he hasn’t stopped through the weeklong training camp to realize this is the last time his father will coach him.
But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t reflected on the trials and tribulations the duo have endured through the experience.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege,” Aviola III said. “He’s a great guy, a great coach and he’s taught me everything I know throughout my high school career. I’ll miss it.”
Now destined for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to try to continue his football career, Aviola III said he’s looking forward to branching out and will relish playing for a new coach.
The change also will come as a relief for Aviola, who said he looks forward to balancing his third season at Delaware Military Academy with watching his son from a more relaxed vantage point.
“It will be enjoyable,” Aviola said. “I really do want to just sit back and be a dad and sit to watch and enjoy the gifts he’s been given to play at the college level now.”
Whether on the Seahawks’ sideline or as head coach of the Blue team, Aviola said he’s kept his same philosophy.
Taking a 14- or 15-year-old boy and molding him into an 18-year-old man through the mechanism of football is Aviola’s lifelong passion.
In line with his philosophy, Aviola admitted he’s sometimes had to be stern with his son, yelling at practice and even pulling him for a few plays.
Aviola III said there’s no love lost and he can fully understand his father’s methods, claiming they are for the “good of the matter.”
After all, he has one goal in mind.
“He wants me to do better more than anyone out there,” Aviola III said.