South’s Chiavelli a perfect fit for CHaD All-Star Game

Staff photo by TOM KING Former Nashua South defensive end Derek Chiavelli has a special tie to the CHaD All-Star Game through his father Mark's sponsorship of the event.

MANCHESTER – It was 6 a.m.on a January weekend morning and Derek Chiavelli’s phone rang.

It was his father, Mark Chiavelli, giving him some great news – he’d been chosen for the West squad for this Saturday’s annual CHaD All-Star Football Game at the University of New Hampshire.

“I said, ‘Why are you waking me up?'” Chiavelli said. “It was like a weekend. He told me, that was cool, and then he said, ‘Go back to bed.’

“He was obviously psyched, because he’d been involved in the game, and of course he’s a proud dad, too.”

The former Nashua High School South defensive end’s father, Mark, has been heavily involved in the CHaD Game the last couple of years. He works in the medical equipment industry, comes into frequent contact with one of the game’s major founders, Nick Vailas, and is acquainted with two former Manchester football players, Gene and Tyler Brown, the latter of whom had his career shortened due to a bout with leukemia.

“He went to the CHaD Hospital and received treatment for over two-and-a-half years,” Derek Chiavelli said of the younger Brown, “and he made it.

“So this is really special. I’ve been close to that family, I’ve known them for awhile. And obviously, all the other kids who have gone through CHaD, and been helped by them, it’s really important. And my Dad being a sponsor last year, and this year.”

“It’s an incredible honor,” Mark Chiavelli said. “(Derek) had a great senior year, and this really makes his year as well. Just so special, it’s a great charity and it’s a great thing, and if I donate to something, you see what good can become of it.”

Chiavelli, the 5-10, 225-pound offensive tackle/defensive end, loved his time with the Panthers.

“It was great,” Chiavelli said. “Just coming in freshman year, Sean (West QB Holland) and I, and we were like, someday this is going to be our team and we’ll take this team places.”

That happened their junior and senior years, when they made the playoffs two straight years.

“We’d like to think we changed the culture there a little bit in terms of working hard,” Chiavelli said. “We had 50 kids in the summer going to 7-on-7s. It’s never been like that before.”

Chiavelli started contributing on defense his sophomore year, “which was a little earlier than I thought it would be.” He played both ways his junior and senior year but as a defensive end is where he really made his mark.

“I just feel like, from sophomore to senior year, just bigger stronger, faster,” he said. “Not that I’m huge. I went to a bunch of camps and worked on my technique, and it showed junior and senior year.”

Thankfully Saturday’s game is not the end of the football road for Chiavelli, who will take his talents to Endicott College in Beverly, the fall.

The head coach there, Paul McGonagle, ironically went to the same high school as Mark Chiavelli, Malden Catholic.

But neither that nor the fact it’s an oceanside school were the reasons Chiavelli chose his future school.

“Honestly, my final two schools came down to Endicott and Umass-Amherst,” Chiavelli said. “And at Umass-Amherst, I wouldn’t have played there. It was a tough decision but I decided to continue my football career.”

Which has a special day on Saturday.

“It’s amazing, just to be able to raise a bunch of money for the kids, and to be able to go out and play and put that West uniform on,” Chiavelli said. “Everything you’ve done up to that point raising money and then actually playing in the game, it’s all for the kids.”

“When you go up there (to the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth) and you see what those kids go through,” Mark Chiavelli said, “it’s a tear jerker.”

Thus, Mark Chiavelli last June had a message to his son about the game.

“I’m going to sponsor it next year, hopefully you get in that game next year,” he said.

Mission accomplished.