PrideTime Senior Editor
NORWALK- Joseph Madaffari as been a part of the Brien McMahon community for 37 years and is now officially bringing an end to his career. Most who have passed through McMahon in the past 23 years have known Madaffari as their athletic director or gym teacher however when he began his career at McMahon, Madaffari was a math teacher and coach.
Madaffari says he finally decided to call it quits and move on to the next chapter of his life after 37 years because he could tell it was time for a change explaining “I don't know what that change is, but I need a change.”
Madaffari moved from being a math teacher to the athletic director (AD) after 14 years at McMahon. During his career as AD, Madaffari has seen McMahon at its best winning multiple FCIAC and State championships during his tenure. With all of that winning and all the other great things he does for the school, Madaffari was awarded the national athletic director of the year honor.
“First time I met Mad Dawg (Madaffari) was in 1988. I think he was the baseball and track coach at the time” said English teacher and golf coach Bo Kane.
Madaffari who says he's going to miss the growth of students through their four years at McMahon said “You have to put the student-athlete first. I mean you’re here for them. You’re here for them to reach goals. You’re here to mature them. You’re here so they'll make the right decisions later in life.” He also went on to add, “It's not about winning and losing, everyone wants to win. I want to win. I want to win in everything I play. I’ve kept that with me and I believe that the coaches beneath me share that same idea.”
Born and raised in Norwalk, Madaffari has lived here his entire life. In high school, he went to Norwalk High where he played catcher for the baseball team and quarterback of the football team. From there, he went to college at the University of North Carolina.
Today, when people think of McMahon athletics, Madaffari is easily one of the most recognizable names that comes to mind. “He’s an institution. There have only been three athletic directors that span McMahon’s entire history.” Kane remarked also adding “He’s done an amazing job running a hard to manage job with so many people.”
With Madaffari’s retirement announcement, McMahon would need a new AD. The replacement would need to be someone who embodies the senator spirit. John Cross was the man for the job.
“I think John Cross is going to be outstanding. I think… no, I know he is going to take this position to the next level as AD. I’m 100% sure of that” stated Madaffari when it came to his replacement.
Cross has been working at McMahon since 1998 as a science teacher and has been the baseball coach since 2002. Before that, Cross attended McMahon as a student where he played baseball for Madaffari. “I’ve known him for a while and he's really got his act together. He's a great fit for the job, he's going to do amazing” said art teacher and tennis coach William Pierce.
Madaffari also wanted to make sure he shouted out the staff at McMahon saying that they are some of the best he's seen while traveling the nation on workshops and such. He mentioned principal Scott Hurwitz saying that he loves the students and is going to do amazing things for the school.
He also wanted to shout out his physical education department and longtime friend Steven Annunziato. “Nunz [Annunziato] and I coached football and baseball together, I’m going to miss my Nunz. I’m going to miss my PE department. Kenny, Phil, Stephany, Torry, Ilene, and of course the rookie Mr. Jacoby… the rookie.”
Following his retirement, Madaffari says he’s going to stay active as he still is assistant commissioner for the FCIAC. He’s also going to teach some classes at the University of Bridgeport in leadership. “I’m going to spend some time with my kids and play some golf. A lot of golf.”
When Kane heard about Madaffari’s plans to play a lot of golf, he chuckled and jokingly remarked “Good athlete but has the foot wedge in his bag and definitely knows how to walk the dog if you know what I’m saying.”
When looking back on his career, Madaffari became a bit choked up walking through his time at McMahon. “I’m struggling because when you're at a location for as long as I've been, it's part of your life and it's tough to break away from something that means so much to you. I mean ‘Once a Senator, Always a Senator.’”