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Ringing the victory bell for a beloved volunteer football coach

Paul DeCabia

On Saturday morning, family and friends will say goodbye to longtime volunteer Riverhead football coach Paul DeCabia during a funeral mass at St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Riverhead.

Soon after, many of Coach DeCabia’s former players will pay their respects to the coach, who died Sunday, in a way only the Blue Waves football family could.

They’ll bring his cremated remains back to the football field and ring the victory bell in his honor.

“He coached here for 15 years and he touched a lot of young lives,” said Riverhead football coach Leif Shay.

Mr. DeCabia, 65, a former teacher who lived with his wife and two sons in Baiting Hollow and was self-employed as a title reader, first became involved in the program in 2001 when his sons played on the team. After they graduated, he stuck around to help the next generation of Blue Waves players.

His specialty was coaching the offensive line. In particular, he would help prepare JV linemen to play on the varsity level.

“He was a volunteer who continued to come to practice every single day,” said Coach Shay, who added that Coach DeCabia had become one of his best friends.

Coach DeCabia continued to coach this season, missing only the final two games due to his failing health.

He is survived by his wife, Kathleen, and his children, Brian and Daniel, all of Baiting Hollow.

A gofundme page was created by the mom of a former Riverhead player to help the DeCabia family pay for the funeral.

The family will receive visitors Friday, Nov. 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead. A funeral service will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, at St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Riverhead.

Coach Shay is hoping to get as many former players as possible to head to the victory bell after the funeral Saturday morning. The bell, which the team rings after each victory, is located on the Osborn Avenue side of Pulaski Street School.

Caption: Paul DeCabia on the sideline during a Riverhead football game. (Credit: Gofundme)

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