BACK IN THE DAY — Pictured is Mike Amodeo, being interviewed as a Springville-Griffith Institute varsity football player by Channel 2 news.
While many New Yorkers know Michael Amodeo as a 2012 candidate for the New State Senate and still others may recognize him as a lawyer from Buffalo law firm Damon Morey LLP, Amodeo’s roots are in Springville, where he grew up with his parents, Larry and Karen Amodeo.
While attending Springville-Griffith Institute, Amodeo played on varsity football and made the all-state team in 1996, his senior year. The all-state team is made up of the highest-rated players in New York state.
Amodeo also made All-WNY, Western New York’s all-star team, put together by area coaches and local media. In 1996, Springville became the first school in Western New York to win a state championship. The team was led by three-year starters and captains Mark Rendell, Jeff Piscitelli and Amodeo.
“I loved winning with my teammates, for my coaches and for my community, and when the clock ticked down to zero at the Dome, I was sad to know that I would never play for Springville again,” Amodeo said.
At the helm of the 13 – 0 team was Head Coach Jim Duprey, who spent 31 years of his life around football. He began his coaching career at Springville in 1968, working his way up from modified football to junior varsity and onto the varsity level, succeeding Coach Mick Nugent in 1989. Duprey retired in 1999.
“They were just excellent kids,” Duprey said, of his team. “We have had great kids in this program. [Current Head Coach] John Sopko would say the same thing. Coach Nugent would say the same thing. We have been really fortunate in Springville to have great kids. Not only to have great football players, but great kids. I look back and I look at what other teams have, had but that particular team with Jeff, Mark and Mike – they were just incredible football players and incredible people. I’m not surprised that they’re doing so well, today.”
Amodeo’s 1996 team defeated most of its competition, scoring 40 points, numerous times. “The tradition of Springville football was the same when I played as it is today,” Amodeo said. “Springville football is about being an underdog, but coming together as a team and a community to play the hardest smash mouth football around. We weren’t always the biggest or fastest team, but we always had the bigger heart, which overcame all other obstacles.”
Duprey coached Amodeo for three seasons, before the athlete was pulled up to varsity as a sophomore, where he would start both ways, in 1994.
“Mike was what you would call a pure football player. They don’t come around too often,” Duprey said. “He was dedicated to the game [and] he was dedicated to the weight room. [He was] probably the strongest kid I’ve ever seen in my life. He translated that on to the field. He was our captain, a great leader, a tremendous linebacker, tremendous hitter. Without him we could [have] won our games, but I don’t know if we would have won States. He was the cog that kept everything together.”
During Amodeo’s senior year, the athlete benched 450 pounds. One of Amodeo’s football friends, Jeff Piscitelli, said that he saw Amodeo’s dedication, firsthand.
“He was probably the strongest guy in Section VI at the time,” Piscitelli said. “He was an extremely hard worker and, as one of the captains, he demanded hard work from everyone on the team, as well. He played every play as hard as he could, all the way to the whistle. I’m sure other teams hated playing against him. I sure did, when we lined up against each other at the college level.”
Amodeo continued playing football after graduating from high school, heading to play at Hobart & William Smith College. He began starting on the team immediately, his freshman year, and was captain his senior year. He captained the team to the schools’ first National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament appearance.
Amodeo earned a degree in political science and economics, before receiving a law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School. He is currently an attorney at Damon Morey LLP, in downtown Buffalo.
“I like to think I have something to do with him becoming a lawyer. No, I’m just kidding,” Duprey said, with a laugh, calling Amodeo “one of the greatest leaders” he ever coached.
“There so much that Mr. Duprey taught me, but I think the most important lesson was how to be a leader,” Amodeo said.
“I saw in Mike everything you want to see in a leader,” Duprey said. “He didn’t have to raise his voice very often. He mostly led by example, on and off the field, but he pretty much kept the team together. He was the one that, if anyone got out of line, he would take care of it.”
Amodeo recognized the leadership skills that Duprey instilled in him as life changing.
“Football, in general, has given me the opportunity to earn a college education and it has given me the opportunity to develop the skills that allow me to be a leader in my community,” he said. “Being a captain of the football team my senior year of high school and senior year of college certainly gave me a head start on being a contributing member of my community.”
Amodeo currently lives in Hamburg with his wife Holley and their two children. He is involved in the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, the Hamburg Sunrise Rotary and the Hamburg Gun Club.
Amodeo recently cast his name in the ring as a New York State Senate candidate, but lost to opponent Mark Grisanti on Nov. 6, 42,534 – 59,504. Regardless of the election results, former teammate Piscitelli said that Amodeo would have done well, in politics.
“Mike’s dedication to hard work and to follow through and his passion for making WNY a better place will both serve him well in his career in politics,” Piscitelli said. “Campaigning is not easy and it brings a lot of stress to most. Mike just rolls with the punches, doesn’t get too high or low and tries to present his view on what’s best for his community. Being levelheaded, but still having a work ethic that is second to none, will help Mike find success in whatever endeavor he ultimately chooses.”
Duprey, who also taught global studies at S-GI, said he had Amodeo in class and labeled the athlete as an “excellent student.”
Duprey commented on Amodeo’s campaign for a seat in the state Senate. “I think I’m surprised when anyone goes into politics,” he said, with a laugh.
“But once he became a lawyer, I talked to him a few times and he just thought he could make a difference.
“I think he would be a great legislator; great leader. He’s not in my district, so I couldn’t vote for him,” said the teacher. “I wish I could have, because he would be a absolute, great leader in Albany.”