Sports Person of the Week
Derda’s Determined to Reach His Potential
Wide receiver Ian Derda is excited to lead the Guilford football squad into battle as a senior captain this fall. (Photo courtesy of Ian Derda )
Ian Derda has an unwavering love for football. Ian prides himself on hard work and puts in some long hours at the gym in an effort to achieve his ultimate goal. Ian wants to be the best player and teammate that he can possibly be as a member of the Guilford High School football team.
Ian is a slot receiver who was named one of Guilford’s senior captains for the 2020 season. Ian has been playing football for the past 10 years, ever since he started watching his older brother Eryk compete. Ian and Eryk were constantly moving because their father Sebastian is a member of the United States Coast Guard. However, that didn’t stop them from pursuing their passion.
“My brother Eryk got me into it when I was in the 2nd grade. I knew he always watched the football games, and that’s what started it mostly,” says Ian. “He started playing in Long Island and, when we got to Puerto Rico, I took interest and played. I was born in Pennsylvania, moved to North Carolina, Long Island, Puerto Rico, then finally to Connecticut in 4th grade. I’ve been in Connecticut ever since.”
Ian dedicated himself to growing alongside his teammates from the moment he joined the Guilford football team as a freshman. He enjoys all the unique intricacies of football and embraces every aspect of the game. This fall, Ian is slated to lead Guilford on the gridiron with fellow senior captains Aedan McDermott and Niko Tartagni.
“I think my favorite aspect would be the fact that it teaches you values throughout your years—toughness, teamwork, commitment, strategy, unity, and strength,” Ian says. “The important thing about these values is that the values go beyond football. They are important in life. Football is, in many ways, a microcosm of life. It teaches you to overcome adversity, to stay focused on an objective, and allows you to taste success at varying levels.”
Guilford Head Coach Anthony Salvati is looking forward to watching how Ian performs in the slot during the upcoming season. Salvati knows that Ian is going to be a key cog in Guilford’s offense.
“Derda is that quiet spark plug that can make a big play at any second,” says Salvati. “He makes big plays in every facet of the game—offense, defense, special teams. He has that rare electrifying capability that can change a game on a dime.”
Guilford saw some ups and downs while battling its way to a record of 4-6 last year. Ian says the biggest highlight came when Guilford notched a 20-19 road victory over crosstown rival Branford in the first game of the season.
“I think my favorite memory from last year was beating Branford. Everyone thought we were going to lose, and you just felt that rush after you hear that buzzer, and you got that confidence from proving everyone wrong,” Ian says. “This was also one of my favorite moments, because this was my first varsity start for football.”
Ian has made some huge improvements to his skillset during his tenure with the Guilford football program. Ian started out bench pressing 95 pounds and squatting 160 pounds. Now, he can bench press 205 pounds and squat 330 pounds.
“I usually go to the field with Aedan and throw routes that will help with my hands and route running skills,” says Ian, who is 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds. “I also run on the turf. I do some agility work that gets me faster. I also go to [Mangino Strength & Conditioning], which helps me get stronger, so that I can go up against those bigger kids.”
Ian is also a member of the Guilford boys’ lacrosse squad. He says that playing lacrosse has proved a big help in terms of his hand-eye coordination as a football player. Ian also enjoys playing video games in his free time.
“Lacrosse keeps me in shape with all the running and helps me with my hand-eye coordination, having to catch the ball, stick, and everything,” Ian says. “Some other things I like to do is play video games. I like playing video games, because they’re something you can play with friends, alone, or even with family.”
Ian plans on bringing a competitive edge to the football field this fall. No matter what, Ian is never going to stop pushing himself to perform at his peak.
“Once I beat my goals, I know I didn’t beat them. I set my standards even higher,” says Ian. “I’m a very competitive person, and I hate losing.”