New Coach
Sam DeMello is the new Putnam Science Academy soccer coach. Courtey photo.

It was a small-town connection that led Sam DeMello to Putnam Science Academy to coach soccer, the world’s most global game.
DeMello used his high school alma mater, Williston in Northampton, Mass., as the home field in his position as a manager in the youth organization Global Premier Soccer last year. And as a show of goodwill, he offered to help Williston’s coach, John Chiavaroli, with offseason and preseason training when he had free time. Chiavaroli just so happens to be a former prep school roommate of Matt Kokoszka, who currently serves as the director of the Soccer Program at PSA.
“So it was one of those things where I know him, and he knows Matt,” DeMello said, “and it just came about that way.”
Now the detail-oriented DeMello, who turns 29 in October, is in charge of PSA’s First Team, which last year was ranked as high as No. 8 nationally and has designs on being higher this season. The Mustangs, featuring a roster of predominantly international players, had a preseason training trip to Bermuda earlier this month in which they impressed in matches against some of the island’s top national teams. They performed well in a friendly with Oakwood Developmental Academy’s U19 team (out of Glastonbury) Thursday and fared well there. The regular season opens Sept. 8 against Berkshire School.
DeMello, who is quick to point out the importance of Second Team coach Ivan Damulira and goalkeeper coach Giovani Riello to the program’s success, inherits a team that is loaded with talent. He said there are three or four players whom he expects to play at the “very, very elite college level,” meaning the Atlantic Coast Conference, which features seven teams in the preseason Top 25 poll, including four of the Top 10. And he thinks another dozen or so can play at the college level, some not far behind the top-tier guys.
Having such high quality technical players would seemingly lead the Mustangs to play a possession-based game, though DeMello said that is his ideal style in a perfect world anyway. But having so many strong players on one team is not without its challenges, especially for a team that has been together for less than a month.
“Any time you step into a new situation, there’s always rough patches, just in terms of communicating your ideas,” he said. “So no matter what or where you are, it does take some time to develop and establish that. But before we get into our regular season, we’ll have a good chunk of time to let these guys know what our standards are, what our expectations are, this is they style we want to play, and this is how it works.
“We have all these guys from different parts of the world — Spain, Brazil, South Africa— where they play all these different styles and show they can be successful,” DeMello said. “As a coach, you always have your own ideas about how you want to play, but at the same time, you can never do that if you don’t have the players to fit that style. You do have to adjust to their strengths too.”
So far, so good. His players say they like playing for him and that he helps them deal with the other adjustments many of them are making, the biggest of which is being so far from home.
“He’s a good coach and he’s a good man,” said senior Artur Selva, a native of Brazil who is at PSA for the first time. “He wants to help us be OK. He wants to help us on the field and to get better. He wants to help us with recruiting for college. I like him very much.”
Steve Nalbandian
Sports Information Director
Putnam Science Academy


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