From the sports editor: Azzanesi excited for new chapter

Two decades ago, Steve Azzanesi didn’t think he had a future in football.

He thought his future was in talking about it.

As a Wesley College grad, the former Wolverine quarterback spent over two years working for local TV station WBOC as a sports reporter/cameraman.

“I would anchor whenever somebody wanted off for the holidays,” Azzanesi said with a laugh. “I always had New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, which was awesome because that’s when all the bowl games were.”

Then one day, Azzanesi’s old coach, Mike Drass, called to see if he’d be interested in a full-time coaching job at Wesley.

“It was a tough decision,” Azzanesi admitted.

Azzanesi, though, chose coaching football. He’s never regretted that decision.

Now, after 18 really good seasons with the Wolverines, Azzanesi has made another big career decision. The 42-year-old has gone across town to become the offensive coordinator at Delaware State.

The chance to advance his career without having to uproot his family, which includes two young sons, was just too good for the Milford resident to pass up.

It all started when Azzanesi and DSU head coach Rod Milstead were at a pro day session at the University of Delaware last year. Azzanesi wasn’t looking for a job when the two coaches struck up a conversation.

“It was just two guys talking,” said Azzanesi. “I went home and I said to (his wife) Margaux, ‘Man, I think Coach Milstead is going to get it going at Delaware State.’ … I was really impressed with him.”

When Hornet offensive coordinator Eric Day left after the season, Azzanesi applied for the job. Everything just fell into place.

Azzanesi already knows assistants Jeff Braxton, the former Wesley offensive line coach, and Bryan Bossard, who’s also joining the offensive staff.

“It really was a homerun for me I felt like,” Azzanesi said about taking the position.

Of course, the new job also means that Azzanesi is leaving Wesley, a place he’s spent 22 years as either a player or coach.

But Azzanesi feels like he’s leaving the Wolverines on good terms. He let Wesley head coach Chip Knapp know what was going when he was talking with DSU.

“He was happy for me,” said Azzanesi. “The relationships I have with all the people at Wesley, that doesn’t go away. It’s just a different opportunity.”

Of course, these are interesting times to be starting a new coaching job.

Azzanesi had a chance to meet his new players after he was hired. But now they’re all back home and spring football is canceled.

Still, since a lot of what he needed to do this spring was install DSU’s new offense, Azzanesi is optimistic the Hornets can get a lot accomplished. There are new and better ways of communicating the X’s and O’s of the game being developed all the time. 

Azzanesi said DSU video coordinator Mike Rogers has really helped him come up with different ways to communicate the offense remotely to the players.

“Even though we’re not in the meeting room we can still work on learning the offense,” said Azzanesi. “I think they’re going to like what we’re going to do. I’m just excited to start teaching them. I can’t wait to see them out there live, obviously.

“But there’s a lot to do mentally, especially when you’re putting in a new offense, with the X’s and O’s, that is just as important. Knowing where to go and what your assignment is is crucial to being at your best.”  

By the numbers

Ever since he was a freshman at Middletown High, Chris Godwin has worn the No. 12 on his jersey.

But now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Pro Bowl receiver has a bit of dilemma.

Star QB Tom Brady, who just signed with the Bucs on Friday, also wears No. 12, of course.

Godwin does have a vested interest in keeping Brady, though. He doesn’t think it will be a problem.

“Obviously, if he doesn’t want it, or if he’s not making a big deal out of it, I’m definitely going to keep it,” Godwin was quoted on Tampa Bay’s website. “We’ll see how that goes.

“I think just out of respect for what he’s done, what he’s accomplished, just kind of the career he’s built for himself, you have to lean into that respect.”

Looking ahead

The Wesley College softball season may have been cut short, but coach Juli Greep is pretty excited about the program’s future.

The Wolverines have only three seniors on this year’s roster, have a solid group of underclassmen and expect to bring in a promising group of freshmen. Wesley was 12-4, just one win shy of last year’s total, when the season ended.

“I think we have just touched the tip of the iceberg of how good this group of athletes can be,” said Greep, who is in her eighth season at Wesley. “This group is special and they’re different. That’s what I want people to see.

“They’re ready to really explode onto the scene. I think that had we been able to keep playing, people were going to get to get to see that.”