OVFL: Ironmen’s QB Di Pietro has learned a lot from coaches

Alex Di Pietro, who is the quarterback of the varsity Hamilton Ironmen, has been playing football for 10 years. He first started in 2006, when he was eight in the HWMFA. This is his fifth year in the OVFL. His first year was in 2012 with the bantam Ironmen. Di Pietro is currently a captain for the varsity Ironmen and also plays for his high school team.

“I am in Grade 12 at St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School and I have been a member of the team for the past four years,” said Di Pietro. “This past season, I played for them in the fall and was a captain.”

He has worked incredibly hard to reach the level that he’s currently at.

“In order to better myself to compete at such a high level, I decided to attend a few very great camps,” said Di Pietro. “I went down to New Orleans for the Manning Passing Academy, which was an incredible experience and received coaching from both Eli and Peyton Manning, plus a few NCAA stars who helped out. Also, I reached out to Damon Allen to get some one-on-one training, and even Mike Carubba, a former AFL quarterback who played against Kurt Warner. I got incredible training on how to be a better quarterback, but I was also taught how to have the right mindset as a quarterback and how you have to evolve while the game evolves. And of course, I train on my own, whether it’s in my backyard, the park or my high school’s field.”

There has been significant growth in Di Pietro’s game as a result of the coaching he’s received while playing for the Ironmen.

“Through the years, I have learned a lot from the organization’s coaches,” said Di Pietro. “One aspect of the game that I have enjoyed learning from the Ironmen is how to read a defence. Having Kyle Quinlan for a year helped me evolve from a basic cut and hold read, to being able to key in on some other positions. Also, they have not only taught me how to be a better player on the field, but off the field as well. As we have recently had some down years in terms of the wins and losses column, the coaches have taught me how to have a positive mindset and keep instilling in the team to better ourselves so we can be the team we know we can be. I have learned great leadership qualities from the organization and I am really grateful for that.”

And the OVFL as a whole has helped him develop as a player as well.

“It is the most competitive league in the province and being able to play against some of the best athletes and football players in the area is a great challenge,” said Di Pietro. “Getting to go up against some well-coached teams and incredible athletes have made me a better player because playing at such a high level allows you to see what it takes to be a great player and what you have to do in order to get to that point. The competition encourages you to work a lot harder. At the bantam and junior level, the league also does an All-Star game, where the best players of that previous year play against each other. It was a fun and great experience and I learned a lot.”

Training is vital for football players, and Di Pietro focuses on his footwork.

“A lot of cone drills and ladder drills that are integrated towards a quarterback skill set,” said Di Pietro. “I do it because I truly believe it creates muscle memory that is needed in game. I also go to the gym, conveniently right behind my house and just work on gaining strength since now the game is getting to a point where you got to be able to take the hits and make certain throws. I do more weight and less reps to achieve this. For conditioning, I don’t do much long distance but rather short burst, like ten 100-yard sprints after a workout. I usually do this three to four times a week. Everything I do is related to my position.”

He has some advice for up-and-coming minor football players.

“Never give up on your dreams,” said Di Pietro. “If you truly love what you want to do, then nothing else should get in the way. However, it’s not easy and there is a lot of hard work and dedication that has to come with achieving any goal that you want to achieve. The thing that I hear the most is, “You’re Canadian, you can’t make it as a quarterback.” Stuff like this has fuelled me to become the best quarterback that I can be. If I let it get to me I probably wouldn’t be playing at such a high level in the OVFL. So my main emphasis is to focus on what you want to achieve, don’t disregard the negative aspects that come with the process of getting where you want to be. Instead, use it as fire and have heart and work hard.”

As for future plans in football, Di Pietro wants to go as far as he can.

“I really would like to play at the next level in the CIS,” said Di Pietro. “If the opportunity came around, I would do whatever it takes to excel at that level and hopefully go even further with football. I want to also help coach minor football since I already have assisted in coaching a team in the HMFA and I really enjoyed it.”

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

Leave a Reply