The revamping of the Southern Connecticut Conference boys basketball divisions brought the opportunity to create new rivalries and attempt to provide more equality among the divisions.
It also provided the unique situation of having a father coach against his son.
With Guilford and Sheehan now both residing in the SCC Hammonasset Division, Guilford’s Jeff DeMaio gets to coach against his son, Samuel, a senior for Sheehan for the first time on Friday in Wallingford at 7 p.m. The last time these two teams played one another was during the 2009-10 season.
“If we had stayed in the same divisions, I don’t know if this would have been possible,” Jeff DeMaio said. “My initial reaction was flashing back to playing Nerf basketball when he was three years old in the den. The second thing I thought about was my wife (Cory) and how this would be for family members and the third thing I thought about was I want to win.”
That 2009-10 season was DeMaio’s first as head coach at Guilford.
“We’ve often talked about playing each other. It’s great. We are both very competitive,” Sam DeMaio said.
Jeff said he considered stepping down a few years back in order to watch his son play full-time. Sam wasn’t in favor of that.
“He is the primary reason that I’m still coaching,” Jeff said. “I thought briefly about not coaching, but he said, ‘I’d be mad if you stop coaching. Keep going.’ I’m glad I did.”
Said Sam: “I told him it would have been a disservice to the kids at Guilford if he didn’t coach them.”
Sam DeMaio is averaging 6.4 points per game for the Titans. Jeff gets to see him play about seven or eight times a season.
Jeff said Cory already told him she will be rooting Sam. Other family members will be in attendance with a decision to make who to root for or remain neutral. Among them will be the patriarch, George, “The Coach”, who will be broadcasting the game on WELI-960.
Once the game tips off, the competitive juices will flow and both father and son will want to win like it’s any other game. But how the pregame will be, and the postgame, will be a little different.
“I hope it’s a hug (instead of a handshake). I think it will be,” Jeff said. “I’ll probably have to keep a little bit of a distance with him this week.”
The rematch will be Feb. 3 at Guilford, the Indians’ Senior Night. Jeff said Guilford plans to acknowledge the Sheehan seniors as well – another entire level of emotions.
“I’ll definitely give him a hug, wish him luck. I hope it’s a great game and we play well and come out with the W,” Sam said.