By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/17/10
BALTIMORE – As both a police officer and a youth lacrosse coach, Paul Deppi believes that preaching good character is his top priority.
Now entering his 17th year as a youth coach for Lower Bucks Lacrosse, Deppi has given this message to the 350 boys in 5th and 6th grade that have been lucky enough to play on his teams. It’s the same message he’s preached as an officer with the Newtown Township police force.
Clearly, that message has been heard by many, including US Lacrosse, which on Saturday here at the annual National Convention honored him as the Boys’ Youth coach of the Year.
Deppi was one of seven youth coaches and leaders recognized by the US Lacrosse Youth Council as winners of the 2009 Youth Excellence Awards at a special breakfast awards banquet. Also honored were Noel Ebner (Syracuse, N.Y./Outstanding Contribution to the Game), Rose Sulley (Portsmouth, N.H./Girls’ Coach of the Year), Henry ‘Hank’ Nunez (Tustin, Calif./Program Administrator of the Year), Laura McCarthy (West Caldwell, N.J./Outstanding Youth Official), Robert ‘Robin’ Buckley (Fox Point, Wis./Excellence in Growing the Game) and Bowen Hadley (Bothell, Wash./One for All).
“To hear some of the other persons nominated and to know their commitment to the game extremely humbles me,” said Deppi. “I’m honored to be mentioned in the same breath with them because they have done so much for the spot. To see their love of the game really flamed my passion a little bit more now that we’re getting closer to the season.”
Deppi, a graduate of Council Rock High, helped found Lower Bucks Lacrosse 17 years ago. In its first year, Lower Bucks had 75 players; now there are more than 500 boys and girls in grades K through 12. Deppi also help run a summer camp in Newtown Township for players in grade k-though-8.
“It’s unbelievable to be selected knowing I’ve had an impact on kids,” Deppi said. ‘It’s great knowing I had the chance to coach them and see them become good young men in high school and beyond.
“We’ve had some really great kids and I’ve made some good friendships.”
Deppi is proud of the growth of lacrosse both in Lower Bucks lacrosse and in the Bucks County high school programs. Deppi noted that many Lower Bucks he coached have gone on to have success in high school and college; such as Joey Caven (Pennsbury/Hofstra), Matt Morton (Council Rock South/Binghamton), Westy Hopkins (La Salle/Lawrenceville School), among many others.
“I remember we put together the formula in someone’s basement in October of 1993,” Deppi said. “The first year we had 75 kids; now we have over 500 and boys’ and girls’ teams in each grade level. We used to travel far and wide for games, to Northern New Jersey. Now, with the formation of SEPYLA, we have seen an explosion and our (lower Bucks) kids are playing in high school and college. Some great kids have come into the program and moved on; I’m humbled at the growth.
“I played club lacrosse at Council Rock and when we first started we couldn’t even get a meeting with the athletic director. Now, there are so many high school teams in Lower Bucks.”
Deppi is happy with the success, but his first goal is to see young boys learn the values that will make them successful off the field. Deppi, who was recognized as one of the “Real Heroes” by the Lower Bucks chapter of the American Red Cross four years ago and last year saw his team recognized for its service to the community by Phillylacrosse.com, hopes his message will continue to be heard.
“They’re fascinated with the fact I’m a police officer,” he said. “I try to humble myself to make sure they stay on the good side of the law. They are representing their team, their area, their community and their sport.
“I want to make sure they keep the sport in a good light. I’d rather see them in a good role rather than being arrested or getting intro trouble. So far, it’s worked out pretty well through the years.”
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