YARMOUTH—While the two-time defending Class C state champion Yarmouth football program was sad to see coach Jim Hartman depart back in February when he accepted the Portland High job, it doesn’t figure to miss a beat with the promotion of Chris Pingitore to the head position.
Pingitore has been a big part of the program since the very beginning and has done a little bit of everything over the past decade. It’s only fitting that he’ll now lead the Clippers into a new era.
Pingitore, who is Dr. Chris Pingitore, a podiatrist, in real life, didn’t expect to become a head coach this quickly, but the opportunity presented itself.
“I thought maybe I’d be a head coach later on in my medical career,” Pingitore said. “I had a feeling when the Portland job came open that Jim might go. I was actually going to step down, but my wife and I decided to throw my hat in the ring for continuity. It seems like just yesterday the program started. I’ve watched it grow and have been at Jim’s side. Ten years later, look where we are. It’s come full circle.”
Pingitore is a football lifer. He grew up near Buffalo, N.Y., and played running back and cornerback in high school before attending SUNY-Fredonia on a track scholarship. Before going to medical school, Pingitore worked as an athletic trainer, coached at his old high school and was the assistant team physician at Youngstown State while doing his residency.
After moving to Yarmouth, Pingitore casually inquired about the quality of the town’s football program and was surprised at the answer.
“Tim Planer, who’s from California, is one of the first people I met in town,” Pingitore said. “I asked, ‘how good is the football team?” He told me, ‘Yarmouth doesn’t have football.’ We said, ‘well that’s going to change.'”
When Pingitore’s son, Nate, began the fifth grade, the Yarmouth football program got off the ground. Initially, Pingitore wanted to serve as a medical and strength advisor, but he was introduced as the youth coach at the first meeting.
“I couldn’t back out,” Pingitore said.
While few could have imagined how good the Clippers would become, Pingitore made a bold prediction.
“The very first day we had practice, there were seven youth and seven high school players,” he said. “I told them if they stayed with the program, we’d win a championship by Nate’s senior year (2010). I knew it was possible with all the athletic talent here.”
It took five years for Yarmouth to become a varsity program, a year sooner than Pingitore expected. Pingitore served as an offensive coordinator, running back coach, defensive backs coach, special teams coach and strength and conditioning coach as the Clippers overcame 19 losses in their first 20 varsity games to become the state’s premier Class C program.
Sure enough, as Pingitore predicted once upon a time, Yarmouth won the 2010 championship and did it again last fall. The Clippers have won 24 straight games and 32 of their last 33 contests, most in emphatic fashion.
“What was a surprise was getting beat up the first couple years,” Pingitore said. “I’m not surprised how we did the third year and winning two state championships. I think our coaching staff is second to none.”
Hartman feels that Pingitore will have little trouble keeping Yarmouth at the top.
“Chris is a good choice,” said Hartman. “He’s a very good football guy. He’s very smart with a great memory and he has the ability to bring that to the kids. They respond very well to him. I really counted on him with scouting. He has an almost photographic memory. He remembers all the details. He’s a hard worker. The biggest thing is his knowledge of the game. He’s been around it all his life.”
Pingitore said he plans to retain most of Hartman’s coaching staff. He also suggested that the average fan won’t notice much difference next fall.
“Jim and I were on the same page offensively,” Pingitore said. “Half the offense was his. Half was mine. My job was to make up plays on the fly. You may see a little more innovation, but the base offense and defense will be the same.”
Yarmouth athletic director Susan Robbins is pleased with the hire.
“We are very happy to promote Chris,” said Robbins. “Chris was one of the founders of Yarmouth football, so it is certainly fitting to have him take over the program being so heavily involved since the inception. Chris is very well respected in our school community and the student-athletes adore him. I strongly believe that Chris is the best fit as far as providing a seamless transition. Chris is highly knowledgeable about the specifics of the offense and defense that have made our program so successful. I am confident that the program will continue to thrive under his leadership.”
It won’t be long until August arrives and another football season is upon us. The Yarmouth Clippers will be looking for another Gold Ball and it won’t be wise to bet against them.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Pingitore. “I hope to have numbers in the 30s, approaching 40. We’ve got fantastic kids coming up. The sophomore class is incredible. The kids are putting in time in the weight room. It’s a tight group.”
Chris Pingitore, whose involvement with the Yarmouth football program dates to its inception, will succeed Jim Hartman as the Clippers’ head coach.