For Coach Joe ‘Football is a family’


Peter Mentekidis , Editorial Editor

He is, at first glance, intimidating. He stands just above six feet tall with a sleeve of tattoos on his right arm, a complete beard, a shout that can terrify, and a stare that can make even the coolest player anxious. He is not totally wrathful, however; beneath the intimidating facade, he is a lighthearted man with a beaming smile, quick wit, and impressive sense of humor. His stare suddenly holds a light glimmer through the rough exterior, and his smile can relieve any tension or stress a player may have, if only for a moment.

Joseph Codding (Coach Joe) began his football career in the fourth grade and played for Ludlow all the way through high school. After graduation, he went on to play collegiate football at Westfield State University and continued his career playing semi-professionally for the Pioneer Valley Football League. 

He began coaching in 2010 with the Ludlow youth program. He has been with Ludlow High School football for 6 years now, coaching both the offensive and defensive line since he began. 

“[Coach Joe] tells me what I need to improve on; he always gives me feedback on what to improve on. Physically, he’s always pushing me to get one extra rep and one extra drill. He merges these things together to make a better player every day.”  ”

— Chantz McClean, OL/DL

Coach Joe recounted how he first became invested in football: “I was going to pick up my older brothers from practice with my babcia. One of the coaches approached me, and said, ‘Hey, you’re a big kid, do you wanna try football?’. So, I went out there, hit a bag, and fell in love immediately. The rest is history.” 

Coach Joe is the youngest of three — his two older brothers coach alongside him for Ludlow. To Coach Joe, they exposed him to the game when he was a child, and gave him a good example to play for. Now in their coaching career, they change how he sees the job. 

Even though Coach Joe was in love, he struggled initially. “I sucked,” he admitted without hesitation. “I was the last kid to sign up… and I had this awful jersey that was all torn up with holes. I also couldn’t play at all.”

Coach Joe is conflicted with the difficulty of coaching. “It’s easy because of the passion I have for the game,” he describes, “But it’s hard on my personal life. Like, I had to miss my daughter speaking and walking because I was coaching.”

“But it’s worth it?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” he responded. 

For Coach Joe, the best part about being a coach is the positive impact it has on the youth. He loves seeing young people go out and grow up, not only as athletes, but as individuals. “Football is a family,” he says with pride, “you don’t have to be the best kid on the team or the most popular to be accepted and make a difference.” 

“[The best part about coaching is] seeing you guys become good people in our community,” Coach Joe told me. 

As Coach Joe returns for the 2019-2020 season, he continues to have a great impact on his players, turning boys into men, pushing them beyond their limits, and breaking down the mental and physical barriers that block us all. 

“I think that Coach joe has been a positive influence on our team, especially our lineman… [Coach Joe] is the leader of our unit, our family. He always inspires and motivates us to perform to the best of our ability. He expects the best from us and [I think] that’s why we’re a successful unit.””

— Mattingly Provost, OL/DL.