UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — Joe Nastasi has been around football for a long time, but this year might be one of his favorites. He’s the wide receivers coach on the undefeated State High Little Lions, who are chasing a state title. This season though, Nastasi gets to chase the title with his son by his side.
“He’s he was a ball boy in flip flops for a long time,” said Nastasi. “And, you know, you turn around and he’s a senior, you know, and it does make you you reflect, you look back.”
Football is a bond that Joe Nastasi shares with both of his sons. Joe Jr. graduated in 2020 and his younger son Donte is a senior this year.
“It’s great having my dad as my coach, you know, he’s been my coach for pretty much all my life since flag football to youth, to middle school to high school, you know, it’s pretty much great,” said Donte Nastasi. “And he’s not just my football coach. He’s my coach as my as a man.”
Joe played wide receiver at Penn State and perhaps his greatest moment on the field was in Penn State’s Outback Bowl win over Kentucky. Now, as the wide receiver’s coach at State High, he’s passing down that skillset to Donte.
“I coach him on and off the field and maybe sometimes a little too much. We’re in the house, we’re working on a route or this or that,” Nastasi said. “So as an individual, he gets a little bit more coach because we’re a coach on the ride home, on the ride back to school, at the dinner table.”
Donte leads the Little Lions with 40 receptions and is second with 478 yards. Like his dad, he wears 21, a number that has significant meaning to his family.
“He really inspires me when he was playing in college and also because of my 21 is my mom was born December 21st and yeah that’s why we’re 21,” said Donte.”
Nastasi graduated from Penn State in 1999 and had a brief stint in the NFL. When his playing days ended, Joe settled in State College and has been a coach for eight years where he finds joy in giving back to the community.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, like you said, not just with my sons, but, you know, you really have how many sons out here on a team,” said Nastasi. “You know, you’re 70 of them. And that’s really the rewarding part. I mean, you know, we’re all out here, give them a lot of time to it, but to see the kids have the success is really rewarding.”