Chuck Wilson on Sports EP. 1: Dante Scarnecchia

Patriots Coach with 5-Super Bowl Rings Provides Insight and Inspiration for Youth Coaches, Athletes, and Parents.

Dante Scarnecchia is considered one of the finest position coaches in NFL history. In his 34-years as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots, Dante helped guide the Patriots to ten Super Bowls. In the summer of 2020, the long-time offensive line coach joined Chuck Wilson on a football field to offer his views on leadership, team culture, the qualities he looks for in a player, and much more, all for the benefit of the New England Patriots Alumni Club and Even Field audiences. Over the years, the coach has granted few interviews. To our knowledge, this was the first time Dante Scarnecchia had spoken at length, on camera, about youth sports participation. It was through Even Field’s nonprofit partnership with the New England Patriots Alumni Club on the Club’s Football For YOU free youth clinics for children and their families, that Dante offered these insights for Patriots Alumni and Even Field youth sports audiences. There are some terrific insights here for young athletes, coaches and parents.

Chuck Wilson on Sports™ features professional and amateur coaches, athletes, officials, and others, sharing insight and perspective from the playing field while discussing issues that impact the game.

Chuck Wilson on Sports and Peer Into Character® podcasts for youth and adults are presentations of Even Field®, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization cultivating integrity, life skills, and leadership, through sports.

Even Field founder and series host Chuck Wilson has been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” by The Institute for International Sport.

You can listen to Chuck Wilson on Sports episodes on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Tunein, and Podchaser.

Episode Quotes, an Audio Timeline, and an Episode Transcript can be found below.

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Retired Patriots Assistant Coach Dante Scarnecchia provides valuable perspective for youth sports coaches, athletes, and parents (© Even Field)

This Chuck Wilson on Sports™ Episode

  • Written and Produced by…Chuck Wilson
  • Onsite recording by…On the Outs Productions
  • Editing by Chris Gemma
  • Music by Symphonic Collective licensed through PremiumBeat.com
  • Our theme music by Patrick Rundblad licenced through PremiumBeat.com

Our thanks to Dante Scarnecchia and to Pete Brock, President of the New England Patriots Alumni Club, and a Director on our nonprofit Board. Even Field long has partnered with Patriots Alumni on the Club’s Football For YOU free one-day clinics for children and their families.

We also thank Even Field’s Board of Directors and the following in particular, for their support of Even Field’s mission and this multimedia production.

Thomas J. Skala

The John and Jessica Pinkos Family Fund

And, highly-regarded businesses in Rhode Island:

The Virtus Group: trusted advisors, led by Mark Cruise, providing an array of comprehensive financial planning services for families and businesses.

Epic Promotions: The Couto family has four decades of experience in printing, branding, and marketing. Thanks to Barry, Adam, and Keith.

Graphic Innovations – a New England leader in large-format printing, graphics, and vehicle wraps. Our thanks to Jim Larkin and his team

Episode Quotes

On not letting others limit your dream

“A lot of people are going to tell you what you can and what you can’t do, and you’re not good enough to do this, you’re not good enough to do that. I think you’ve got to make them prove it, man…Prove them wrong.”

On what drives a team culture

“At the high end of the team, the top 5%, those are your leaders of leaders…There’s a 5% at the bottom. They’re not following this program no matter what…And in between, there’s 90%. Now, who are they going to gravitate to?”

Patriots code of “train yourself to play with good habits” applies to youth players in any sport

“Train yourself to play with the habits that you’ve been asked and taught to play with. And if you do that, you’re going to be one of those guys that’s going to be hard to get out of the lineup. They’re going to find ways for you to play and find things for you to do because they can trust you.”

Episode Audio Timeline

The role of sports in Dante’s life (1:19)
How Dante became interested in coaching at an early age (2:18)
On never letting others place limits on your potential (3:30)
What Dante looks for in a player (5:21)
What middle school and high school players should focus on (6:45)
How Patriots code of “train yourself to play with good habits” applies to youth players (7:48)
Why Dante emphasizes “listening” to both players and coaches (9:43)
On what builds a positive team culture (11:01)
Behaviors needed in leadership roles (12:39)
On the value of “leadership by example” (13:55)
Why an early focus on playing a particular position in a sport is not recommended (14:56)
How a young player can stand out and be noticed by coaches (16:08)
Dante’s view of “effort and attitude” (16:44)
How to help kids learn to channel their emotions in a positive way (17:56)
The role of character and building trust in one another (18:39)
How the Patriots, down 28-3 to the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, avoided sideline bickering (20:44)
How a team can learn to play its best when pressure is at its greatest (21:51)
How youth coaches can hold young players to high standards w/o being overly negative (22:49)
Shares his concerns about youth coaching today (26:46)
The most important attribute that a coach needs to have (28:04)
On what Bill Belichick said about Dante (28:33)
Dante’s advice for a middle schooler/high schooler who wants to maximize their abilities (29:49)

Episode Audio Transcript

Long-Time Patriots Coach Dante Scarnecchia Provides Insight and Inspiration for Youth Coaches and Athletes.

Dante Scarnecchia is considered one of the finest position coaches in National Football League history. Dante served as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots for 34-seasons. and coached in 10 Super Bowls. He has five Super Bowl rings.

Dante was Assistant Head Coach for Bill Belichick for 14-seasons and filled other coaching roles, but perhaps is best remembered for his work as offensive line coach for 21-seasons.

In the summer of 2020 following his retirement from coaching, Dante joined Even Field’s Chuck Wilson to talk about leadership, team culture, the qualities he looks for in a player, and how the Patriots staged the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Dante Scarnecchia: interviewee

Chuck Wilson: interviewer

Chuck Wilson: You grew up in East LA.

Dante Scarnecchia: I did.

Chuck Wilson: Take us back to early childhood. What was the role that sports played in your life?

Dante Scarnecchia: I gravitated towards football. My dad loved Notre Dame, so I watched a lot of college football with him on a black and white TV, and I would say that for me personally, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t go down a half a block to the local elementary school and do something out there every day. We’d play whatever was in season. It was football. It was baseball, basketball. We just did it all, and never let a day go by without going over there. It’s what we did. It’s what you had to do at that time, you know?

Chuck Wilson: What was that early experience like?

Dante Scarnecchia: For me, it was really good in a lot of ways. Most importantly, it gave me a way to expend all the energy I had outside doing things I loved to do, and that’s where I probably had my first inclination that maybe I wanted to do something along the lines of coaching.

There was a guy that opened a playground up after school every day and organized the team activities for all the kids that were there, and there were a lot of kids there.

We used to call him Red, because he had red hair and he was a college student, and he just organized it. And I remember that was my first thought.

I said, ‘Man, this guy’s got the greatest job in the world’. He was probably making a buck an hour, but I didn’t know that, and I didn’t care about it. I just thought how good it would be to go out and do something like he was doing, be outside, playing sports, or organizing sports, and that’s where I probably first got my first inclination.

Dante Scarnecchia: No.

Chuck Wilson: But you ended up playing positions that usually require some size. When was the first time that you heard somebody tell you that you weren’t going to be able to do a certain thing or weren’t going to be able to achieve a goal that you had?

Dante Scarnecchia: I don’t know. I know that when I was in college, and I went to junior college like a lot of kids in California did, and I thought, well, ‘I’m going to play two years and I’m going to go to USC or somewhere.’

But they really weren’t very interested in me, and the same thing was true when I got out of high school.

So, I mean reality hit real fast for me and I had a pretty good awareness that I was short, and I didn’t weigh very much, and I was going to be a lineman, but none of that mattered to me.

And when you first asked that question, I was thinking about what we do in the (NFL) draft every year. And, what we do in the draft every year is identify a lot of the negatives and kind of don’t dwell as much on the positives.

It brings me to a really strong point that I’ve always had.

A lot of people are going to tell you what you can and what you can’t do, and you’re not good enough to do this, you’re not good enough to do that. I think you’ve got to make them prove it, man.

And if you just take it all as a challenge, and that’s why I have such a great affinity for the guys that come out in the draft every year that maybe are a little bit too slow, and aren’t a little bit fast enough, and aren’t long enough with their arms, and all that other stuff. But when you watch them play, they play really good, and if there’s enough of the measurables there, you say, “I like that guy. I want that guy. Let’s get that guy on our team,” and I think that transcends everything that happens in our lives. You know?

Everyone will be willing to say, “You’re not very smart. Your grades weren’t that good.” You know? “You only went to this school.”

Who cares? Prove it. That’s the greatest thing that we have, all of us. Prove it. Make them wrong.

Chuck Wilson: What do you look for in a player?

Dante Scarnecchia: Three things as far as offensive lineman. They’ve got to be smart. They don’t have to be a genius now. They’ve got to be smart enough, okay? And especially in our system. If they’re just not smart, they’re going to have a hard time.

They’ve got to be tough. If they’re not tough…you can’t make a player physically tough. You can’t.

If you could take a guy, and because the scouts say, “Well, you know he’s a really great athlete, and he’s really smart, but he’s not very tough, and you can make him tough.” No, you can’t. I don’t think you can. I think you can make him mentally tough by coaching him hard, but you can’t make him physically tough.

And then, the last thing, and it really is the last thing for me, they have to be athletic enough to play the positions you want them to play, so a center’s got to be able to reach the front side gap. The left tackle’s got to be able to protect the blindside. The right tackle’s got to be a powerful guy.

They have to be athletic enough to do the things you want them to do, and that’s what I always look for.

Chuck Wilson: And what are the habits that you want to see in players? And I’m thinking now of kids who may be in middle school or in high school, that want to prove themselves. What should they focus on?

Dante Scarnecchia: Habits to me are the most important thing because there’s two types of habits. There’s good habits and bad habits. And most kids that have really good habits, (are one’s) that study really hard, and use every minute of their time to their advantage. Kids that have the habit of doing the right things, not getting into a car with other kids that have been drinking, or not going places where you’re not wanted.

And there’s bad habits, you know? Which is kind of the opposite of what we just talked about, and I think the more good habits you can develop as a person, the better off you’re going to be in this life.

Chuck Wilson: One of the Patriots codes for your offensive lineman is “Train yourself to play with good habits”. What does that mean at younger levels? What does that mean for a middle schooler or high schooler?

Dante Scarnecchia: I think it means when your coach asks you or tells you to finish blocks and don’t stop until the whistle blows. The play always starts with a snap count and ends with a whistle. It doesn’t matter. It’s for everybody.

But train yourself to play with the habits that you’ve been asked and taught to play with. And if you do that, you’re going to be one of those guys that’s going to be hard to get out of the lineup. They’re going to find ways for you to play and find things for you to do because they can trust you, and that all goes along with accountability too.

I think that kids can be trained to do things the right way. We’ve been homeschooling our grandkids here for the last three months, and it’s kind of like coaching, you know? You tell them, “Hey, you’ve got to write legibly. You’ve got to have the right space in between your words.”

And they’re in elementary school, obviously, and “You got to take pride in everything you do,” and all those things that had been part of my life teaching the game of football for 48 years, I find myself saying a lot of the same things to our two grandkids age 10 and 11 how important it is to do things the right way. And honestly Chuck, I like to think that over the last three months that you really have seen a difference in these two, and I think we have.

Chuck Wilson: Practicing the right way is huge. And applying the effort the right way. And that’s where the coaching comes in. And one of the key things I know you’ve talked to your players about, and to coaches about, is the ability to listen.

Dante Scarnecchia: Yep.

Chuck Wilson: Why?

Dante Scarnecchia: Well, I think listening is just taking in all the information that’s given to you, processing it, and then ultimately seeing it come out the way that whoever’s taught you wanted to see it come out. And I think listening is the key to everything, man, and especially in coaching.

Coaches are the worst listeners there ever was. I’ve been in staff meetings where you can just tell guys aren’t listening or when you’re training other coaches, they’re more intent on telling you what they know when they’ve asked you a question, as opposed to listening to what you said.

But I think that listening is so important in so many ways, and paying attention, because in the information that’s imparted to you, those are the answers to the tests.

If you really understand them and process them and play to those things, you’re going to play, and you’re going to be a guy that’s reliable. So, listening is a key.

Chuck Wilson: What builds a positive team culture? What are those attributes that you need to have with the players, with the coaches, that end up putting together a really positive environment in which you can succeed?

Dante Scarnecchia: I think that the culture of the team is driven by two things.

Retired New England Patriots Assistant Coach Dante Scarnecchia says team culture is determined by the top 5% of a team’s leaders.

I think you have a team. At the high end of the team, the top 5%, those are your leaders of leaders. Those are the best guys you got, but it’s about 5%. They’re going to do everything you want them to do, and they’re going to lead the team. They’re going to be the best.

There’s a 5% at the bottom, they’re not following this program no matter what, and some of them are good players. Some of these guys way up here are not the greatest players, but they’re pretty good players. Some of these guys (down there) are pretty good players, some of them aren’t so good.

And in between, there’s 90%.

Now, who are they going to gravitate to?

If that top 5% has the voice, that 5% at the bottom, they’ve got nothing, okay? And no one wants to hear what they have to say, no one’s going to follow them, because everybody’s going to push up there.

When that top 5% isn’t as strong as you’d like them to be then all of a sudden, that culture gets a little weighted towards the bottom, and it’s not as good as you’d like it to be.

So, however you can find that top 5% and feed them, and say, “Hey look, fellows, we’ve got to make sure we get more out of …They may be your captains, they may not, and they may be your starters, some of them may not. But they’re the guys that their voice is sound, and strong, and they’re usually the guys that carry it, and you’ve got to find those guys.

Chuck Wilson: What are the behaviors that you need to have in that leadership role?

Dante Scarnecchia: Some of the usual great qualities we talked about. They’ve got to show up on time, got to be great listeners, got to be leaders in the meeting rooms, in the weight room, on the field.

I mean, it transcends everything because if your leaders aren’t willing to go in there and lift weights, and work hard, help run the off-season program, especially at the lower levels in high school in the summer when no one wants to come out here, but your team leaders say we’re going to go out there, and we’re going to run today, and we’re going to throw the ball around because the coaches can’t be here. Those are the guys that make your team stronger.

Chuck Wilson: I’ve long thought that intentional leadership is really important. What are your intentions, and what behaviors are you exhibiting that back up the principles you believe in. And Pete Brock (former Patriots center and long-time President of the New England Patriots Alumni Club) made a really interesting point. He said, “You know, not all leadership is intentional.” And he pointed to John Hannah. He said John Hannah simply showed (leadership) by how hard he worked, but that he didn’t really, quote unquote, “try to be a leader”. What are your thoughts on that?

Dante Scarnecchia: I think Pete has it exactly right, you know?

When you watched John practice all you could just say was, “Wow.”

There are those guys that are just pit bulls, and I think as a coach you want to highlight those guys as much as you can. And you do it in your film sessions. “Say, take a look at this guy here on this play, fellows, and that’s how we want to play right there.”

And that kid may never be able to say it, but as a coach you’ve got to let him know, “Hey, that’s what we’re looking for right here,” and I think that’s a great example of guys doing it.

Former New England Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan interviewed by Chuck Wilson at a Patriots Alumni Football For YOU camp (© Even Field)

Chuck Wilson: One of the things that struck me in a conversation with (former Patriots quarterback) Steve Grogan was that he considered himself a football player, not a quarterback. And you see so many parents, and so many kids who at a very young age have already picked out what position they’re going to play, where the focus really ought to be on “How am I going to get on that football field and make a difference”. What are your thoughts on that?

Dante Scarnecchia: I think it’s all true.

I think we are in an age of specialization; you know. In particular, at the skill positions. We’ve got these guys, a quarterback guru, gurus all over the nation, and they have these quarterback camps, and everybody wants to see their kid…Look, in football, there’s only one football and the quarterback touches it on every play, and you know, everybody wants their kid to play that position, and on, and on, and on, but I think it’s much better served for kids to go out and enjoy it.

They’ll find their niche, and the coaches will help them find their niche, okay? You know, that usually has a way of working itself out.

The key to it all, to having a joyful experience, has always been two things, playing, and participating. The joy you get in playing the game, and the joy you get in playing the game maybe not to the levels of the starters but participating in some way.

And lastly, contributing to the success of the team. I think that’s important.

Chuck Wilson: How can a young player stand out and be noticed by coaches?

Dante Scarnecchia: Do what’s asked of you to do in the meetings, never be a kid that gets yelled at because he’s not paying attention, and not doing what they asked you, not practicing the way they want you to practice.

You either stand out because you do something really good, or you stand out because you do something bad. And then somewhere in there in the middle, is guys that for the most part are okay.

You want to gravitate to that other side.

Chuck Wilson: Let’s talk a little bit about effort and attitude. At Even Field, we’re always really pushing the things that each of us controls. What does that mean to you as a coach?

Participant at a Patriots Alumni Football For YOU clinic leaps high to try to make a catch.

Dante Scarnecchia: I think it means everything, you know. The amount of effort that’s expended on every play. You know if it’s really high you’re never going to have a squabble with that guy. You’re never going to have a disagreement with him. And that will only make him better.

And get a lot of guys to play like that, you’re going to have a really, really good team.

Attitude, the right attitude. Every day I’m coming in here and I’m going to work as hard as I can work. I’m going to do everything that I’ve been asked to do and try to get that attitude to radiate throughout the room, and throughout the team.

Usually, it just makes everybody better.

Chuck Wilson: How do you help kids channel their emotions in positive ways? How can coaches, how can parents, and how can kids learn to do that? Because we even see it at the professional level sometimes the emotions that help to drive you as an athlete can work against you. You pick up a 15-yard penalty at just the worst time. How can you help kids to learn at an early age how to channel their emotions?

Dante Scarnecchia: Yeah. I think it’s no different than parenting, you know. If you see behavior that is not conducive to the things you value or in a football context, that hurts the team, you’ve got to let them know. You’ve got to let them know and you’ve got to tell them why. And you got to make them see it within that context that behavior’s hugely important.

So, I think it’s all about standing up and telling them exactly how you feel.

Chuck Wilson: Let’s talk about the role of character and building trust in one another. This is a team sport. You’ve got to be able to play together. Obviously, the offensive line perhaps most of all. What are your thoughts for the middle school, the high schooler, of being a person who has character and builds trust in others?

Dante Scarnecchia: Yeah. One of the things we have always told the players within the offensive line room is “Trust the guys around you and build their trust in you.” Okay?

First off, I’m going to trust you, okay? And then, you’re going to build my trust in you by doing what I expect you to do as I have to build your trust in me because I’m going to do exactly what I’m supposed to do with you.

Like on a double-team block. We’re going to do this exactly right, because you’re going to trust me, and I’m going to trust you, and we’re going to do it exactly the way it needs to be done.

So I think that trust is something that comes intrinsically from your own self and then as you get familiar with the people around you, you say, “Man, I know this guy. I know this guy, and we’re going to be all right here”, and I think that that’s what it’s all about.

Chuck Wilson: And the trust also comes in when things are going badly. I think the best example is the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Yes, you have to have great ability to be able to come back from a 28-3 deficit midway third quarter, and you may even need a couple of mistakes by, in this case the Falcons. But on so many teams, there would have been bickering on the sideline, offense getting on the defense, and vice versa. Instead, the Patriots were able to stay together as a team and focus on what needed to be done.

Can you take us back? How were the Patriots able to do that, and how can teams at lower levels learn to be able to have that trust, that focus, to be able to execute like that?

Dante Scarnecchia: You know, I just think that night, we had run so many plays in the first half and didn’t really have much to show for it, but we’ve run a lot of plays and never punted. So, we went in at halftime not doing very well, but you know there was some hope. And it didn’t start out great even in the second half.

But, to your point, there was no bickering and once we started getting some momentum and just rolling, and our defense played so well. It just became a situation where all the things that we had built during the course of that year from the previous spring all the way through the season all manifested themselves in that last whatever it was, quarter and a half, and they just did everything that we needed to do to win a game like that.

I think that’s where the culture of the team came in.

Chuck Wilson: You know, one of the Patriots codes for your O-Line is when pressure is at its greatest, you’re able to focus, concentrate, do your job. How is that taught?

Dante Scarnecchia: Well, I think you’ve got to play your best football when it counts the most.

And every time you can take one of those experiences on the practice field, one of those coachable moments, and say look at this play, what we just made here. This is when it really counted the most, down in the red zone, or on the goal line, and this is why it was that way and this is what we’re striving for, not just here, but all over the football field.

And so, it’s a matter of just educating and enlightening them on those things.

Chuck Wilson: You’ve been an incredibly demanding coach over the years and yet players responded really well because, others have said, you showed them that you cared about them. That you really wanted each of them to be able to maximize their abilities. What do you want to say to youth coaches who are trying to get the best out of their players, but they’re dealing with kids?

Long-time New England Patriots Assistant Coach Dante Scarnecchia teaches young athletes at a Patriots Alumni Football For YOU youth clinic.

Dante Scarnecchia: I think that you have to look at them, especially with the young kids, and keep reinforcing the things that you want to see them do at practice, okay? And they all won’t be able to do them right, especially when they’re younger. But there will be some that really will do it right, and you’ve got to show it. “That’s what we want. This is what we want the picture to look like, and this is how we want everyone to play.”

When you see it, you have to keep reinforcing it, and praising it.

And, in contrast, even at the youth level you’ve got to say, you know really, that’s not good enough.

It can’t be, Chuck, everything they do can’t be “Good job. Way to go. That’s good.”

Chuck Wilson: Exactly.

Dante Scarnecchia: It’s not always good and you’ve got to let them know. It’s no different than parenting your kids. “Boy, you were great today. I’m so proud of you. You did all the stuff. You know what? You didn’t do this. You didn’t do this. I know, but you’ve got to do this.”

Chuck Wilson: But you’re demanding of the things they control, right?

Dante Scarnecchia: That’s exactly right.

Chuck Wilson: That’s the real key here. Kids need that kind of feedback as long as they know that the correction is about helping them become a better player and a better contributor to the team and isn’t about trying to call them out and embarrass them.

Dante Scarnecchia: Yeah, I agree. It’s all about nurturing, and fostering, and building good habits and I think that’s what a coach’s job is. That’s what youth coach’s job is too.

For youth coaches I think what’s really important for them is that they study the game, they learn the game, and most importantly they teach kids how to practice the game that build good habits, and train them how to play the game as efficiently as they can.

When I was young in coaching I was a graduate assistant at Iowa State, and I was a very good friend with an elder coach (the late Tom Harper, who played for Bear Bryant at Kentucky and was defensive coordinator at Iowa State when Dante was there) and he taught me one thing that has made a huge impact on my life and what he said to me was, “If you’re not seeing your drills on your game tapes then you’re not doing the right drills,” and he was so right.

And I’ve learned over the years that everything we do at practice has to look like how we want it to look in the game, and that only comes with putting a lot of thought into what you want them to do at practice, how you want them to do it, the tempo you want them to do it in, because all of it’s going to manifest itself come Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday if they’re lucky, and it’s going to be exactly the way you want them to do it.

And I think that that’s the most important thing about coaching is to teach them how to play the way you want them to play.

Retired New England Patriots Assistant Coach Dante Scarnecchia offers advice for youth coaches.

If a young coach asks me, “What’s a great way to coach?” I would tell them you have to be you first. Whatever you is has been plenty good to get you to this point, and don’t try to be like that guy, that guy, that guy. That’ll come, okay? You’re going to be part of somebody as you go. We’ve all done that.

The most important thing is to be yourself and try to build on the best things you do, don’t beat them up with overkill as far as tough coaching and all the rest of that.

Tough coaching will come. They’ll appreciate tough coaching if they see that it’s going to make them better. That’s really important to them as people, especially in the pros.

When I first started in pro football, I coached the same way I did in college football and what I learned about pro players is if they thought you could make them better, they would listen and do anything you wanted them to do, because they all want to be better, because if they’re better they get to stay, and that’s all they can ask for.

Chuck Wilson: What are you concerned about that you’ve seen in youth coaching?

Dante Scarnecchia: I think that a lot of guys, and I appreciate their time and willingness to get involved. I think that it can’t just be about putting a whistle around your neck, and walking around, and not being enthusiastic about what you want them to do.

You’ve got to set up your practice, so you get the most out of every minute. So that you don’t have two guys doing something, and 12 guys watching. You know?

It has to be the very best that you can provide for the kids to train them, and teach them, nurture them, to make them better people, better players.

Talk about mental toughness. Mental toughness a lot of times is all the time developed on the practice field, how you practice, how hard you practice, and I’m not talking about beating each other up every day at all. I’m talking about practicing hard, finishing blocks, being in the right football positions, the safest football position so no one gets hurt.

And I think that’s what it’s all about, and I think that that can be improved in a lot of ways.

Chuck Wilson: What’s the most important attribute that a coach needs?

Dante Scarnecchia: I think work ethic is hugely important, how hard you’re going to work to be successful. I think that’s really important. I think that having a great plan for every day, you know. What do you want to get out of this meeting? What do you want to get out of this practice today?

When this day is over, I want to be able to go home and say, “Man, this was a good day,” and I think that that’s unbelievably important is getting the most out of every day you’ve got and getting the most out of the players every day you can.

Chuck Wilson: 48 years coaching. 36 in the National Football League. You went to 10 Super Bowls, winning five times.

Bill Belichick said of you. “In an industry of constant change Dante remained a fixture here for the simple reason that he helped every player reach his highest potential regardless of who he was, how he was acquired, or how much raw talent he had. In whatever category a coach can be assessed: evaluator, teacher, motivator, problem solver, disciplinarian, team player, winner, Dante is as good as it gets.”

Dante Scarnecchia: He’s very kind to say that, you know. I don’t know if any of that’s true, but I appreciate him saying it. I think those things are really important. A lot of those things are what we’ve been talking about.

I got a lot out of this game, man. I got a lot out of it. This is what I dreamed about doing when I was 12 years old. You know? I’m grateful for every second I’ve been a part of it, really.

Chuck Wilson: Leave us with this. Give a really good piece of advice for a middle schooler or high schooler who wants to maximize their abilities in anything they’re doing.

Dante Scarnecchia: Yeah. Show up every day, work hard, do what you’ve been asked to do, and most importantly if you don’t understand, ask questions. Ask questions. Be a great listener. Listen to all the information that’s being imparted to you, and then take it to the field and show them you know what you’re doing.

Chuck Wilson: Dante, great pleasure. Thank you so much.

Dante Scarnecchia: Yeah, my pleasure, Chuck. Thank you.


We want to thank Dante Scarnecchia for sharing his insights with us. Over the years, Dante has given few interviews. To our knowledge, this was the first time he had spoken at length, on camera, about youth sports participation, coaching, and parenting. This conversation was recorded on June 1, 2020.

It was through Even Field’s nonprofit partnership with the New England Patriots Alumni Club on the Club’s Football For YOU free youth clinics for children and their families, that Dante offered these insights for Patriots Alumni and Even Field youth sports audiences.

We also want to thank Pete Brock, President of the New England Patriots Alumni Club and long-time director on Even Field‘s nonprofit Board.

A video of this interview will soon be available on Even Field’s YouTube Channel.

If you would like to hear more from Dante, check out a previous interview Chuck recorded with the coach at a Patriots Alumni Football For YOU youth clinic. You can listen to that 2014 conversation here.

Chuck Wilson on Sports” is a presentation of Even Field. If you enjoyed this program, please like us on Facebook and let us know who you would like to see us interview in future shows.

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Even Field is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations to Even Field are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

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