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Branford football alum EJ Sattelberger is giving back to his alma mater as an assistant coach. EJ, a Guilford resident, is the Hornets’ special teams coordinator, in addition to coaching the squad’s offensive linemen, running backs, and wide receivers. (Photo courtesy of EJ Sattelberger )
After graduating from Branford High School in 2007, it didn’t take long for EJ Sattelberger to get settled into a coaching role with the Hornets’ football squad. EJ joined Branford’s coaching staff in 2012 and has been with the program ever since. A Guilford resident, EJ is serving as Branford’s special teams coordinator and also coaches the Hornets’ offensive linemen, running backs, and wide receivers.
EJ played for the Hornets when they won their most recent state title. EJ helped Branford notch a 14-7 victory over East Lyme in the championship game of the Class MM State Playoffs in 2005.
“My junior year, we were able to get back to the state championship after losing it my sophomore year,” says EJ, who played linebacker, tight end, and wide receiver. “We had good senior leadership that year. When you win a state championship, you have to get lucky, and we did.”
EJ’s history as a winner in Branford comes in handy when he’s trying to get his message across to his players. EJ is always emphasizing the importance of preparation on the football field.
“My whole life I was a results-driven person, but when you want to be truly successful, you have to focus on the process,” EJ says. “You can want to win, but if you don’t want to prepare to win, you’re not going to win. You have to enjoy the process of getting to game day as much as you love playing the game.”
EJ became a member of the Hornets’ staff during Mike Tracy’s last season as the team’s head coach. John Limone then took over as head coach the following year. EJ’s experience from playing several positions helps him make an impact in all phases of the game for Limone’s squad.
“My youth football coaches played me in a lot of positions, so I could understand what each position has to do,” says EJ. “Coach Tracy helped me with football IQ based on film work and making us understand what we have to do for a game.”
Coach Limone says that EJ is a valuable member of Branford’s staff. Limone likes how EJ takes on every task without any hesitation.
“Most young coaches want to be calling plays or be a defensive coordinator. Special teams is something young coaches don’t often put a lot of emphasis on, but when I gave it to EJ, he took it and ran with it,” Limone says. “Aside from his work ethic, EJ is one of the most loyal people I know and has a great way with the kids. He knows how to take pressure off the kids, which helps them feel confident, which is important. He does things the right way.”
EJ had to get used to working with Branford’s athletes during the early stages of his coaching career. Through the years, EJ developed reliable methods of communication to ensure that everyone was on the same page.
“It’s different from playing, because you can’t go out there and do it yourself. The way you communicate, sometimes you might have to slow it down for them to understand something,” says EJ. “It takes time, but it’s been a fun transition for me.”
One of EJ’s favorite roles is serving as Branford’s special team’s coordinator. EJ likes motivating his players to give it their all whenever they step on the gridiron in kicking situations.
“I love it because, if you’re going to get put in charge of something, you have to do it to the fullest. If you don’t show the importance in something, the kids won’t either,” EJ says. “I tell every kid, ‘Every [fourth down] play, you can be in the game if you make my team.’”
EJ is applying to graduate school at Southern Connecticut State University with designs on becoming a school counselor. EJ was in sales when he started coaching, but his current position with the Hornets has brought him back into the education system.
“Right now, I’m enjoying the role I’m in,” says EJ. “I’m trying for that, and then we’ll see if I want to focus on taking another step.”