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Frankie Squeglia recently finished his career with the North Haven football team by earning a starting spot at center in his senior season. (Photo courtesy of Frankie Squeglia )
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By the time Frankie Squeglia started 5th grade, he had earned his black belt in karate. Frankie had the option of either continuing with the sport to get his degrees or try something new. He had always enjoyed watching football with his father and, when Frankie’s dad suggested that he give the sport a try, Frankie agreed.
“Since I started, he’s never missed a game and would always watch my practices. He was a big influence and is my biggest fan,” says Frankie of his father. “My mom is also a huge fan and has been there just as much as my dad. Whenever I had a problem in football, I went to her.”
Frankie remembers the transition to the sport being difficult, noting that many of the kids on his youth team had been playing together since flag football. Frankie was also frustrated with the amount of playing time that he got in his early years. However, the lessons that he had learned in karate helped him persevere.
“Karate taught me discipline and to be respectful to my coaches, always listen, and that when I made a mistake, to make sure to fix it,” Frankie says. “In the beginning, I’d get my eight plays and that was it, but over time, I earned their respect. I remember in 5th grade there were 30 guys in our group and, by my senior year, there were less than 20. I worked hard to stay with it.”
Frankie was primarily a JV player during his first few years in the North Haven High School football program. However, when some spots opened up after Frankie’s junior season, Head Coach Anthony Sagnella started working on a plan to fill the gaps.
“We had to move some guys around and that left a few voids, and Frankie was one of guys we turned to to fill them,” Sagnella says. “He accepted the challenge and he got after it. He put his nose to the grindstone, put the team first, and worked his tail off.”
Frankie earned the starting center position for North Haven as a senior. Frankie worked hard throughout the offseason leading up to his senior year, and the effort paid off as he started all 10 games, while helping the Indians finish with a record of 6-4.
“I worked my butt off and lifted a lot of weights—I back-squatted 450 pounds at a competition—and it was worth it, because I got the job,” says Frankie. “For our first game against Fairfield Prep, our three captains could see I was nervous and they said, ‘There’s no one better for the job than you,’ and that made the butterflies in my stomach go away. Even though we lost by a touchdown, it was one of the greatest experiences to go from a JV player to a starter.”
While Frankie enjoyed the entire season, he notes that the last game against Amity was one of the campaign’s standout moments. After the Indians lost to Shelton, they no longer had a chance to make the State Playoffs, but Frankie and his teammates decided to fight for a better record. North Haven won the game by the final score of 49-13.
“It was the last time playing with my brothers on a cold, muddy Amity field that was really torn up and, at one point, I blocked two guys at once,” Frankie says. “After the game, the coaches were hugging me, and it was an emotional moment at the end when we beat them. Everyone came to play that day.”
Coach Sagnella saw Frankie come to the field ready to play every day. Sagnella recognized all the hard work that Frankie put in during the offseason when he presented him with North Haven’s Most Improved Player Award.
“Frankie is a loyal, hardworking kid, but before this year, he hadn’t had his opportunities,” says Sagnella. “He was very consistent and handled the pressure extremely well. He was a rock in there. You need a guy who’s unflappable, and we’re eternally grateful for his contributions.”
Frankie feels thankful to his family, his teammates, and the Indians’ coaching staff for their support. In particular, Frankie credits two players for inspiring him when he was a sophomore. One of them was Mark Montano, who Frankie says “brought everyone together and inspired me to be a better player.”
Luigi Coppola was North Haven’s starting center in Frankie’s sophomore year, and Frankie watched every move that he made on the field. Frankie remembers that Coppola would often give him advice.
“I always wanted to be a center, because it’s a position where you have to be smart, snap to the right guy on the right call, and know the play,” says Frankie, who also enjoys music and playing guitar. “When it was our time to go in, Luigi would come give me advice like, ‘Focus on the snap first, then focus on the block.’”
After finishing his final year on the gridiron, Frankie has continued to lift weights. He spends much of his free time at North Haven Health & Racquet Club doing both cardio workouts and weightlifting. Frankie has found another passion in weightlifting and is considering looking into powerlifting once he gets settled into his college routine.
Frankie received his acceptance letter to his top college choice, the University of New Haven, on the same day of his final high school game. An honors student, Frankie plans to study psychology with a goal of becoming a guidance counselor or therapist.
Even though his days of playing football are now behind him, Frankie isn’t leaving the game behind. Frankie’s eight year-old brother is starting youth football in the fall, and he plans to help out on the coaching staff.
“My brother is excited that I’ll help coach, so that’s helping me with the fact that my days playing are done for now,” says Frankie. “I want him to keep playing, because the experience I had was life-changing, and I just want him to the best player he can be.”
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