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Players Give Back to PAL

Matt Kelly and Brandon Pacilio remember being rambunctious kids starting out in football. Now, the Staples High School seniors are coaching that same type of children.

Kelly and Pacilio are among members of the Wreckers football team working with the Westport PAL spring football program. They instruct players in grades 2-8 on fundamentals of offense and defense. The children run, block and pass with guidance from the high school players. The players recognize their duty to work with the players that will succeed them on the powerful Staples football team.

"It kind of reminds me a lot of what I went through,'' Kelly says. "I had the seniors help me when I was coming up. It's the right thing to do." Pacilio added: "It's an opportunity to give back to where you came from."

The seniors are coming to realize it's not always easy to teach. "I always tell the kids to listen to the coaches,'' Kelly said. "They know more than you do." Kelly says he's speaking from experience. As a youngster, he frequently frowned upon coaching instruction.

Kelly and Pacilio also find it can be hard to keep some of the younger players focused during the 90-minute sessions. Attention spans drift and it can be hard to keep the children engaged. "You have to keep their attitudes up, and you have to have fun with it,'' Pacilio said.

The players feel rewarded by giving back to the community. Working with the Westport program may have even planted a coaching bug in some of the players. "Definitely, when I'm older and I have my own kids I'll work in a league like this,'' Kelly says.

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