In 20th season, Duddy’s Irish eyes smiling at North Penn

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In 20th season, Duddy’s Irish eyes smiling at North Penn

Coach Paul Duddy will be leading his North Penn boys soccer squad to Hershey PA for the state title game.

Coach Paul Duddy will be leading his North Penn boys soccer squad to Hershey PA for the state title game.

Prasham Jobanputra

Coach Paul Duddy will be leading his North Penn boys soccer squad to Hershey PA for the state title game.

Prasham Jobanputra

Prasham Jobanputra

Coach Paul Duddy will be leading his North Penn boys soccer squad to Hershey PA for the state title game.

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TOWAMENCIN- By now, everyone knows about the boys soccer team playing for the state championship Friday night in Hershey PA, but very few know about the man at the helm of the ship, Head Coach Paul Duddy.

Duddy grew up in Philly, in a neighborhood comprised of mostly immigrants.  Most neighborhoods in Philly didn’t play soccer but that was the most popular sport in Duddy’s neighborhood.  He played youth soccer with The Germantown Boys Club and then attended North Catholic High School, an all boys school.

“We were considered one the top high school soccer programs in the country, soccer wise.  It was 4,000 guys in school, and despite those numbers, the majority of us got a great education.  I went on to get recruited and played at Saint Joesph’s University and played probably for the best coach I ever played for, a guy by the name of Jack Dunn.  [I] learned from him and went on to play at different higher levels after that,” Duddy said.

After college, Duddy worked various jobs but eventually found himself a career.

“I knocked around a little bit and worked a whole lot of different jobs, more than I would care to admit, but eventually I ended up having a 40-year career with Honeywell International.  I was a technical sales rep.  I retired about six months ago.  Both my wife, Gale, and I retired, just decided it was time, and we have three children.  They’re all adults, of course.  Our daughter lives in Germany and our two sons live in Denver.  We want to be able to travel and visit them.  We’re probably just as busy in retirement as when we were both working,” Duddy said.

Prasham Joanputra
Coach Duddy talks to his team a little over 24 hours before the big game.

Most of that time, of course, is spent with the Knights on the soccer field.  Duddy started off coaching at Lansdale Catholic before joining the Temple Men’s Soccer coaching staff with his best friend and brother-in-law, Hugh McInaw.  After five successful seasons with Temple, the head coach position at North Penn opened up, and it wasn’t long after that Duddy got his head coaching job.  That was twenty years ago.

“It’s so enjoyable.  We have such good young guys here that just being around them day in and day out is pretty cool.  I think they keep me young,” Duddy laughingly said. “However, I couldn’t have had the success we’ve had without first and foremost, our players and our amazing coaching staff, including Chris DePeppe, Pete Phiambolis, and Jesse Scheetz.”

The last four years have been historic for the Knights soccer squad, breaking records and setting milestones each year with Duddy leading the way.

“Luck of the Irish,” Duddy jokingly said. “It’s been a joy for me being around these guys everyday.  Seeing them during the offseason and some of the things we do, like get together, and I have a tremendous assistant coach, and that’s Chris DePeppe.  He has a whole lot of input into this and I listen, we talk, we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we just keep moving and the boys love him.  He has been instrumental in our success for the last number of years.  We work together pretty well.”

There has been a lot of successful teams in the program, none of which have won the state title, but Coach Duddy believes this team is different than teams of the past.

“I think [the team] is so close and the camaraderie of the team is pretty incredible, and they’re mature.  I don’t really have to get after them a lot.  They know what to do and how to win, and they enjoy being out on the soccer field every day,” Duddy explained.

Everyone in the program has waited a long time for the opportunity to win a state title, but none have waited longer than Duddy.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am nervous.  I have adrenaline going through me, which I’ve had since I was a player, which I think adrenaline goes through any athlete I believe.  But this is probably the most confident high school team I have ever been around and if they’re that confident, I have to be that confident too.  Confidence without being cocky,” Duddy explained.

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