Cimaglia new DIAA head, 5-year board member also led Unified Sports Committee

DOVER — When Gary Cimaglia was a kid, life wasn’t always easy.

His mother died when he was young.

That’s why middle school and high school sports were important for the Rhode Island teenager.

“It really helped me direct my life,” said Cimaglia. “It was a big part of who I am and I just always wanted that for as many student-athletes as possible.

“I think it’s such a formative time of their life — it was for me. And the quality of that, I think is so important. It’s just something I always felt strongly about.”

Gary Cimaglia

Now 46, Cimaglia is being given the chance to impact a lot of student-athletes’ lives after being named the next executive director of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association on Monday.

A Clayton resident since 2005, Cimaglia will replace Tommie Neubauer, who announced in the spring that he was stepping down. Cimaglia officially takes over his new duties on Sept. 3, just as the new school year is starting.

Cimaglia will become only the eighth executive director that the DIAA has had since the organization was formed in 1945.

The father of four has been on DIAA’s board of directors since 2014. He’s served as vice chair of the board and chair of the rules and regulations committee since 2016 while also spending two years as chair of DIAA’s Unified Sports Committee.

It was Special Olympics that first brought Cimaglia to Delaware in 2005. He’s been the senior director of sports for Special Olympics Delaware since 2005 and Special Olympics USA management team director since 2001.

Cimaglia also served as sports commissioner of the 2014 Special Olympics National Games.

“I look forward to the opportunity and to the challenge,” he said. “It’s a great foundation. I’m excited about it.”

As DIAA’s executive director, Cimaglia sees his job being to support the schools that make up the organization’s membership and staff most of its committees.

“I think the DIAA as a whole serves at the will of the membership,” he said. “I think we’ve got to focus on supporting our member schools and what they need to accomplish and get done. We should be there to help them be successful. Without those member schools — without those coaches and athletics directors — we don’t have a program.

“They’re the ones that drive it and I think we need to be able to fulfill what they feel is most important to accomplish.”

A graduate of Rhode Island College, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in health and physical education, Cimaglia earned a Master of Science in management/nonprofit leadership from New England College.

In a world of youth sports that is constantly changing, Cimaglia wants the DIAA’s policies to be able to evolve with them.

“Times change,” he said. “I don’t think it’s any secret that coaching out of season is a hot topic right now. As things evolve, we need to look at different solutions to some of these items that pop up like this.”

As for Special Olympics, the DIAA has added Unified sports state championships in football, basketball and track & field over the last few years. Cimaglia doesn’t know if more sports should be added right now but says there’s always opportunities to do more.

“It’s kind of a nice mesh,” he said. “With Unified sports growing in the schools, we’re truly giving everyone the opportunity to be an interscholastic athlete — which is amazing. I think that can only expand.

“We’re trying to really perfect the sports we have now and grow them to the max capacity, then continue to look at the sports we can add to it.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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