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Discover Lasell

A Coach’s Perspective

March 30, 2018

Dante Scarnecchia of the New England Patriots visits Lasell College
Photo by Matthew Searth '21

His plans to become a teacher did not come to fruition, but New England Patriots Offensive Line Coach Dante Scarnecchia has instead had an envious career that includes five Super Bowl wins over the course of 47-years of coaching.

On Tuesday, Scarnecchia spoke to students from Lasell's programs in sport management, sports communications, and coaching, as well as faculty, staff, and Lasell Village residents in Yamawaki Auditorium. Over the course of his remarks, he emphasized the value of a strong work ethic and his unwavering commitment to move up from entry-level coaching jobs, highlighting three critical skills for students to hone: decision making, communication, and conflict management.

"When it's fourth down and the ball is on the 30-yard line, do you punt? Do you go for it? You have to make a decision and you have to be OK with the consequences," he said. "This is true of everything that we do in life. What I would suggest to you ... is to do your research, look at things closely, and make a decision that is best for everybody."

He shared situational examples of how good listening and clear instructions play equally valuable roles in fostering strong communication. When laying out information, he said, it is important to use "no uncertain terms" to create a heightened sense of seriousness about the topic or task at hand. In receiving it, he said, the same type of unwavering attention is required.

"The greatest thing you can do is to make sure to listen to what is being said. It will impact a lot of people ... [so be] ready to do what needs to be done and give an appropriate response to indicate that all was heard."

He also encouraged students to seek out solutions rather than solely identify conflicts.

"Everyone can find consensus on the idea that a problem exists," he said. "Be the person that has the solutions. Those people are invaluable."

The audience engaged Scarnecchia on queries about specific plays and games as well as his career. One student inquired as to whether professional coaching was possible for those who have never played the game.

"There are many professional examples of great coaches who never played a day in their lives," he said, but "you have to be willing to learn the game and to be a great teacher."

His words come from experience, as Scarnecchia's 47-year career started off with a different goal: he sought to become a high school coach and history teacher. A series of statewide teacher hiring freezes in California led him to accept work as an offensive line coach with his alma mater, California Western University. From there he proceeded to coaching jobs at Iowa State University and Southern Methodist University before accepting work with the Patriots in 1982.

Based on his experience, Scarnecchia advised students to worry less about company names on their résumés, and to focus more on building their reputations as diligent, committed team members.

"When I was a young coach with the Patriots, they would always say to me, 'whatever you can do, do it.' The more you can do, the more valuable you are," he said, "but you have to earn it and work for it every day."