Spotlight On: Coach Joe Dutsar


Photograph by community partner Kevin Berrien

For Holyoke Football Coach Joe Dutsar “purple pride” is not just a hashtag, it’s a way of life.

Although Coach grew up in Wappingers Falls, New York, he made his way to Holyoke after graduating from Springfield College in 1985 with a degree in Physical Education. Coach Dutsar said he was drawn to Holyoke because of its, “rich tradition as a sports town.” And it’s safe to say, after more than three decades in the paper city, he’s made an impact on Holyoke students on the field and in the classroom.

Coach Dutsar is in the process of leading the Knights football team to three winning seasons in a row – an accomplishment that has not happened in over a decade. But his resume goes back much farther and deeper than football. Coach Dutsar began working at Peck Junior High School and coaching with the Knights in 1987 as a positional coach. He later worked his way up to defensive coordinator in 1999. In that same year, he was offered a teaching job at the then Dean Technical High School as well as the head coaching job for the Hawks. While Coaching at Dean (2000-2015) he won a state championship in 2005 and went on to play for two more chips after that.

In 2016, Coach Dutsar brought his football coaching game back to Holyoke High North, taking a young Holyoke Knights team and starting mostly sophomores. The season didn’t end pretty at 1-10, but Dutsar was not discouraged. He was after something bigger than wins and losses.

Coach Dutsar was trying to change the culture. He worked with the Knights, inspiring them and giving them mottoes to live by such as “Prove it!” and encouraging players to be “accountables” – for each other and their community. “I feel we have collectively made big strides towards improving our product,” he said. “Not the wins or losses, but the development of student athletes into hard working young men and women who try their hardest in the classroom and on the field. I am proud of everyone who has contributed to our students’ growth and development.”

Corey Thomas, a senior lineman, credits Coach Dutsar with helping him achieve on and off the field. “He inspired me to push myself, and to step up to any challenge in life and on the field no matter what,” said Thomas. “He taught me to never back down and as a student he pushed me to strive for the colleges and academic goals that I want to achieve.”

Beyond football, Coach Dutsar coached girls basketball for 12 years at Dean and has been involved in Track and Field since 1988. He is now the head track coach at the North Campus.

Coach Dutsar is so influential with his student athletes primarily because he was an athlete himself. A graduate of Roy C. Ketcham High School in 1981, Coach Dutsar was an all-league linebacker and, on the track team, was an all-league champion in the 110 high hurdles, and a member of the 4X400 relay team that competed in the Penn Relays. He also played football for Springfield College while earning his degree.

And just to make sure he has enough sports in his life for the long term, he is the vice chair of the Holyoke Athletic Hall of Fame that was launched last year with great success. Coach Dutsar said he knew Holyoke was the perfect fit. He endearingly states, “I knew that first year that this was going to be a heck of a ride.”