Suiting up for camp: Bavaro brothers succeed in summer football phenomena

Joe McConnell

When Mark and David Bavaro, former standout National Football League players, were growing up in Danvers, an organized football camp was a foreign concept. But today, such training has grown to be a full-fledged business opportunity, providing youngsters from Pop Warner to high school an outlet to develop their athletic skills.

“Football camps are everywhere today, but when Mark and I were growing up, we went to the neighborhood parks and played games,” David said. “It was fine for us growing up not to be supervised, but today people are concerned about their kids, and they want them to be supervised during the day.”

Successful football camps require a number of qualified individuals, and the Bavaro brothers knew where to start 13 years ago when they were beginning the Bavaro Brothers Football Camp.

Longtime friend and veteran high school football coach Bill Maradei, who now coaches at Austin Prep, was chosen to be the camp director. And together, they built up a solid corps of individuals who coach or have coached in high school, with a couple of former scholastic stars thrown in for good measure.

The camp averaged at least 100 youngsters each summer. It became clear to Maradei and the Bavaroses that they would need more position coaches to accommodate every camper. There are 10 coaches participating in the one-week session, including Mark, David and Maradei.

“It’s a connection back to the game for us. You’re on the field, and many kids come back multiple times, which means we’re doing something right,” David said. “We offer more instruction and not a lot of yelling. I didn’t think it’d last this long, and in my mind, it’s still on a year-to-year basis.”

So popular was the camp that, at one time, the program grew to two one-week sessions at Danvers High School, where Mark and David nurtured their professional aspirations, and Austin Prep in Reading. But it proved to be too taxing, and so the three went back to a one-week camp, at Austin Prep, where Maradei is head football coach and a teacher.

The New York Giants, the team that employed Mark as an All-Pro two-time Super Bowl-winning tight end, have been the beneficiary of a couple of their former campers. Zach DeOssie, out of North Andover, was a rookie on last year’s Super Bowl team, and linebacker Jonathan Goff, from Lynn, joined DeOssie as a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft.