Aland Joseph was nearly moved to tears when he received the call he had gotten the job as Westhill’s new head football coach.
For Joseph, it is the culmination of years working as an assistant coach and an opportunity to put his stamp on a program ready to rebuild.
“I’ve been coaching 14 years. It’s something very special to be named head coach at Westhill,” Joseph said. “I was almost in tears when I found out got the job. It puts me in a position to help young men have opportunities they would not be able to have without football. Football gave me a lot in my life and I want to share that with the kids at Westhill.”
Westhill announced last week that Joseph is being hired as the new head football coach. Previously, Joseph was the defensive coordinator for the Vikings.
He takes over for Joe DeVellis who stepped down in January after three years at the helm.
Joseph has been tied to Stamford football since his days growing up playing on the city’s West side and later in his high school days playing for coaches Dewey Raymond and Brian Fox at Trinity Catholic where he graduated in 2003.
After he finished his playing career at Springfield College, Joseph coached for a year as a graduate assistant at St. Lawrence College before returning to his roots.
Over the ensuing years, he learned from some of the best coaches in the FCIAC.
First, he joined Donny Panapada’s staff at Trinity in 2011 before moving over to Sean Ireland’s staff at Norwalk High for two seasons. Joseph then went on to assist AJ Albano at McMahon for a year before joining Jamar Greene at Stamford High and eventually moving across the city to be with DeVellis at Westhill.
Joseph has jumped around as school counselor jobs opened up at each school, wanting to work and coach at the same school.
He said the number one thing he learned from those coaches was the importance of being in the building.
“Working with all those great coaches the one thing I saw they had in common was they all worked in the school and saw how they interacted with the kids in the hallways.,” Joseph said. “I’ve always coached at schools where I was a counselor. It is a good way to be in contact with the kids. Being able to see them, you build a relationship with them. It isn’t just at practice from 3:15 to 5:30, you need to know what they are doing 24/7. Coaching isn’t just about football, it’s about developing student athletes. Academics is always going to be priority number one for me.”
He was named Westhill’s defensive coordinator prior to last season, but that season never happened.
Now, he takes over a team that did not have a season and many players that drifted away from the game with nowhere to play.
Joseph hopes his presence in the halls and the anticipated reopening of the school weight room will help get players back on track.
“The transition from COVID is our No. 1 challenge. Our kids are not even back in school full time yet,” Joseph said. “We need to get the weight room open to get their bodies right and get them back in school to get their minds right. With hybrid learning it is hard for kids not to slip. It’s challenging and we need to make sure everyone is eligible to play academically.”
Football wise, Joseph feels DeVellis had the team taking positive steps forward.
“Coach DeVellis left us in a good spot,” he said. “We were headed in the right direction before COVID and we need to pick that back up. On the field we need to continue to get bigger, stronger and faster and to do that we need to stay committed to the weight room. It’s up to the coaches. We need to put kids in positions to succeed. I can’t wait to get going.”