Local coaches weigh in on sibling rivalries


In light of the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim, facing off in this Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, I asked some local coaches who have siblings that also coach in the area to weigh in. While putting the story together, I found that it’s been rare in recent history for two brothers or sisters to coach against each other. Of course, the royal family of football coaches in Section 1 is the DeMatteos (pictured above with mother Cealia), where brothers Tony (head coach at Roosevelt for 31 years; current Somers coach) and Don (head coach at Gorton for 24 years) build a tremendous rivalry in the city of Yonkers. The stories that Tony told me this week were pretty classic, but other examples were few and far between. The prevailing theme with the few coaches that I spoke to was that these situations tend to be more difficult on the parents, and that coaching against your own flesh and blood usually drives you to compete even harder. I imagine those bragging rights will last a lifetime.

From a wrestling standpoint, we often see sets of brothers who excel on the mat — the Realbuto’s from Somers, the Aslanian’s from Edgemont, the Rodrigues’ and Grippi’s from Fox Lane, the Caputo’s from North Rockland, etc. — but there are no current pairs of brothers who both have head coaching positions in Section 1. The closest example I could find was the Tornambe’s. John is current the head coach at Yorktown, while his brother Steven is an assistant under Bob Bernaducci at Pleasantville. Steven is also Ossining’s all-time wins leader.

How would you feel about coaching against your sibling on a big stage?

Photo by Frank Becerra, Jr./The Journal News


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  1. not so many siblings on

    As far as wrestling coaches go you will find trends. You have a group of Ossining guys from the 90’s and a little after working around the section. You have John Tornambe at Yorktown with former Ossining wrestler Matt Shakin, they see Croton and Assistant Tom Denholm at north county news duals, they are in a league with Steven Tornambe at pleasantville as well as Ossining now coached by their former Assistant Coach and Ossining alumni Larry McRae, whose assistant is another alumni Fermin Figueroa and now some of their matches will be officiated by Sal Imbimbo who used to coach them and coached against them while at Mahopac

    Even crazier Torres from Sleepy and Figueroa from Ossining (rivals) worked with him at Mahopac, each now back at their home schools. Denholm coaches with Occhipinti another Ossining/Sleepy combo. So sleepy has somehow combined with rivals Ossining to work together in other places

  2. Sleepy’s assistant coach actually coaches his younger brother and his older brother whom he wrestled with in high school coached modified at croton last year