Derek Almeida put together six successful seasons as the varsity football coach at Falmouth High — winning a MIAA Division 2A Super Bowl in 2016 to cap an unbeaten season. But Fairhaven is home.
So last week, the 40-year-old Almeida — after resigning his teaching and coaching positions at Falmouth — was hired as the head football coach at Fairhaven High, continuing his family’s legacy with the program.
His father, Dana, guided Fairhaven to three Super Bowls in 18 seasons as head coach, and Derek was a two-year varsity starter for the Blue Devils in ’97 and ’98. Now, the younger Almeida will be tasked with resurrecting a Fairhaven program that has not compiled a winning record since 2012.
“I was fortunate enough to have great experiences as a kid, playing football at Fairhaven, and to have the opportunity to provide a program that kids can enjoy and be a part of is important,” said Almeida, who grew up a few blocks away from Fairhaven’s football field.
“There are already kids on the team that are sons of guys that I grew up playing with and that’s a really cool thing for me. But I absolutely loved my time at Falmouth and it’s such a supportive community.”
Almeida coached eight seasons under his father at Falmouth, before spending three seasons as an assistant at Greater New Bedford Voc Tech. He took the helm at Falmouth in 2014, compiling a 42-24 record. He replaces Rudy Bulgar, whose contract was not renewed in January after a 1-9 season.
Over the last six months of quarantine, hunkering down at home in New Bedford with his fiance Sara, daughter Layla, and 4-year-old son Roman, Almeida said he cherished the time he was able to spend with his family. While working in Falmouth, Almeida would leave for school at 5:30 every morning and not arrive home till 9 at night. The time spent away from his family wore on him over the years and logistically, the move to his alma mater, as a teacher (math) and coach, made too much sense to pass up.
“You start to realize that in a few months I’m going to be gone all day and I think being closer to home is something that I need to do at this point in my career,” said Almeida. “You start to realize how much you miss about home and how good it feels to be around your kids, your family, your spouse. It was important for me to put my family first.”
Another caveat awaiting Almeida at his new school is his daughter Layla, a rising junior at Fairhaven High who runs cross-country and serves as the class president. Almeida said the two discussed the move prior his acceptance of the position; the two joked about how she can finally attend the Fairhaven-Dartmouth Thanksgiving Day Game with her friends instead of the Barnstable-Falmouth game.
“I asked her if she didn’t want her father in the building, because some teenagers don’t like that, but she was so supportive and said she’d love to have me there and watch the games,” said Almeida. “She’s been a great supporter of me.”
At Falmouth, Almeida’s teams ran a triple-option offense and the scheme will be implemented at Fairhaven. On Wednesday night, he introduced himself to his new players via a Zoom meeting. Almeida said his first task is to hire a coaching staff and then begin to lay the groundwork for a program that thrives on commitment and worth ethic, but also has a positive atmosphere.
“I know number one is to really create an atmosphere where kids are going to have fun, they’re going to enjoy each other’s time, and they’re going to work and be committed to each other,” said Almeida. “For me, this is kind of a double new normal. It’s a new normal of what football will look like during the pandemic, but I also have a new program.”
MIAA coaching honors
On Monday, the MIAA unveiled its 2019-20 Coaches of the Year, honoring 29 coaches from member schools who had an impact on the lives of student-athletes by helping them develop self-confidence, strong worth ethics, ambition, and other valuable life skills.
John Silk (Assabet Valley Tech).
Sean Ryan (Burke boys) and Jay Keane (Malden Catholic girls).
Perry Pappas (Wakefield boys) and Joseph Colbert (Triton girls).
Karen Gomez (Agawam)
Andrew MacKay (Ashland)
Mary O’Brien (Weston boys) and Jay Durfee (Notre Dame-Hingham girls)
Rich Butler (Attleboro, boys), Jennifer Wrenn (Medfield, girls)
John Messuri (Arlington, boys), Ed Amico (Westwood, girls)
Wayne Puglisi (Andover)
Greg Bruce (Belmont)
Erik Ruhmann (Westford, alpine), Pat Garrison (Acton-Boxborough, nordic)
Jared Scarpaci (Masconomet, boys), Steven Estelle (Gateway, girls)
Kathy Georgina (Agawam)
Swimming & diving
Jean Fedak (Algonquin)
Douglas Chapman (Somerset Berkley, boys), Tami Degelder (Plymouth South, girls)
John Griffith (Wellesley, girls’ indoor), John Goda (Pope Francis, girls’ outdoor)
Joe Zenus (Milford, basketball), Lauren Tarlow (Needham, track)
Courtney Chaloff (Needham, girls)
Deshawn Fentress (Brockton).