Sports Person of the Week
Madison Football is a Way of Life for Ferraiolo
Madison resident Mike Ferraiolo has two decades of experience as a football coach and recently became the offensive coordinator for the Hand football squad. (Photo courtesy of Mike Ferraiolo )
Football has been a huge part of Mike Ferraiolo’s life for a long time. Mike started off by playing youth football in Madison before moving to North Branford for his high school years. After graduating from North Branford in 1998, Mike got involved with coaching football at the youth level, first in Guilford and then in Madison after he moved back to his hometown.
Mike worked with the Madison youth program for several years before joining the coaching staff at Daniel Hand High School in 2008. While he’s still coaching with the Tigers, Mike’s nine year-old son Michael recently started his football career, so Mike returned to the sidelines to coach in the youth ranks, as well.
“Being down there helping at the youth level again brings back a lot of great memories from when I was a player, and it’s also bringing me back to where I started coaching,” Mike says. “Madison football has become a lifestyle. Playing as a kid, coming back to coach, and now having a son come through it, it’s a pretty amazing thing.”
After playing football for coach Anthony Sagnella at North Branford, Mike chose to go to a technical school to become an electrician. At the time, Mike’s younger brothers were playing youth football in Guilford, and he was asked to help out. Mike says that he immediately got “the bug for coaching.”
“It brought me back to the game, but from a different perspective, now as the teacher. It was the same love and passion for the game I had as an athlete, but there’s something about helping these kids out and getting them to a level they can compete,” says Mike. “I had a lot of great coaches in Madison and North Branford, and those were the guys who were the mentors who helped mold the person that I am, not just as an athlete, but as a human being. I just try to be that same person for my athletes today.”
In 2001, Mike moved back to Madison and returned to his roots to lend a hand in the town’s youth football program. He coached in the program for several years and then joined the high school staff at Hand as its freshman coach in 2008. This year, Mike became a member of the varsity staff for Head Coach Steve Filippone’s squad. Mike is taking on the role of offensive coordinator with the Tigers.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, so the opportunity came up, and I’m going to take the ball and run with it,” Mike says. “It just happens to be in a year that’s bringing a lot of obstacles and questions, but at some point, we’ll be together and on the field.”
The Tigers are still waiting on approval to participate in full preseason workouts. Although the team missed out on spring football and a summer camp at Yale due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mike says that Hand’s coaches and players have stayed busy during the past few months. Mike used that time to revamp the team’s play-calling system.
“We’re just trying to be as efficient as we can on offense, and we’ve tweaked some things and made some modifications to better the offense,” says Mike. “We had a lot of extra time during quarantine as players and coaches, so we took that time to focus on the little things—the way we study video, call plays, and the types of plays we run. There’s been a lot of work put in behind the scenes during quarantines as far as the X’s and O’s go, but we’re really looking forward to getting back together.”
Coach Filippone has seen Mike’s dedication to Madison football throughout the past two decades. Filippone credits Mike for always “finding a way to get things done,” including his play-calling system updates and the way that he’s organized the team’s small-group workouts.
“Mike is committed to our kids and what they’re doing, and he’s a guy who understands kids and how to motivate them,” Filippone says. “What stands out is his commitment and work ethic. Mike is a real asset, a great guy, and a very close friend whom I trust implicitly.”
In turn, Mike feels thankful for the coaching staff at Hand, noting that they are the “smartest football coaches I’ve ever been around in my entire life.” Mike has learned a lot about both football and life from his fellow coaches. He’s also grateful to his wife Marla and their three children for supporting him through the time commitment that comes with coaching football.
“I coach with some of the greatest men I’ve ever met who are tremendous husbands and fathers, and it’s been an honor to be around them,” says Mike, whose family enjoys snowboarding, boating, and fishing. “Any great football coach has a supporting cast at home. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to do it. My kids and wife are very supportive, and I am very appreciative.”
Mike’s love for coaching football inspired him to begin his own business, Madison Electric, so that he could keep his schedule flexible. Mike has since expanded his coaching résumé as his children—Taylor (13), Michael (9), and Chase (8)—have explored other sports like basketball, baseball, and softball. Mike loves working with all of the athletes he coaches in Madison.
“Thank you to the community for allowing me to coach the kids that I’m able to work with on day-to-day basis,” Mike says. “The kids are so great that it makes coaching easy sometimes. They come from great families, and the kids have a great work ethic and really want to succeed, so it makes it easy to be a coach in Madison. Whatever team it is, you see our athletes succeed because of the core values they learn from their families.”
Having coached for nearly 20 years, Mike has created relationships with many dedicated and hard-working players. By transitioning roles, Mike has been able to coach kids at the youth, freshman, and varsity levels, something that he says is “pretty special.” Mike feels that coaching a freshman team is particularly special, because that is a big year of transition for every member of that class.
“In youth, you’re still teaching your basic fundamentals of being an athlete and the foundation of what is football. Freshman level is great, because you’re their first coach in high school and, as soon as school starts, you’re the first person they meet,” says Mike. “Once they get to varsity, they become more of young men, and it’s where you really start to finish what the youth coaches have started. You’re helping them learn to be a great man, a great student, and see why they’ve gone through this journey of football since they were kids.”
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .