Growing up and playing basketball in the Cramer Hill section of Camden, Joe DiPietro was used to battling for rebounds, getting knocked down and getting back up.
His street toughness served him well after being floored by life a few years ago.
DiPietro was the highly successful softball coach at Temple University when the administration dropped the program.
So DiPietro had to bounce back. And he has. DiPietro is the new head softball coach at the University of Incarnate Word.
“I just wasn't going to jump at any job,” said DiPietro, who spent twenty-five years as an assistant and head coach at Camden Catholic High School.
Incarnate Word is located in San Antonio.
“The campus is spectacular,” DiPietro said. “Its beautiful, trees and grass, it’s on the outskirts of the city.”
DiPietro brings a stuffed suitcase full of credentials to Texas after winning 115 games on North Broad Street. During his five years, the softball team was the only Temple sports program to increase its win total every season. The Owls won a school-record 32 games in 2013 and made three consecutive conference tournament appearances.
DiPietro also won at La Salle University, leading the Explorers to 22 wins - the most wins by the program in 11 years - in 2008.
After Temple dropped the program, DiPietro was the head coach at Hampton University in Virginia for two years where he led the Lady Pirates to a 22-win season in 2015.
DiPietro arrives at the Alamo City from Drexel, where he was an assistant for one season.
“We are excited for the opportunity to work with Joe," UIW Interim Director of Athletics, Mark Papich said. "Joe's team blueprint for success parallels the University mission that cultivates the development of the whole person and values of life-long learning."
Incarnate Word, a private institution that was founded in 1881 with a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,500, is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
“I think when people hear the name they think it’s a Bible college, but it's just like Villanova, Saint Joe's and LaSalle,” DiPietro said. “It has a Catholic mission.
This upcoming season, the Cardinals will be postseason-eligible for the first time after playing the last four years on the Division I level.
“They have made the commitment financially and in every other way to take all their teams into Division I and do it the right way,” DiPietro said. “For me it was a perfect.”
DiPietro seems like a perfect fit with his background and success even though he will remain an Eagles’ fan in Cowboys’ country.
“I think I have a way of talking with kids and getting them to believe in the same kind of things I believe in and that's graduating first,” DiPietro said. “That has always been important and the thing is here the team GPA was 3.45 and for a team to have that GPA is pretty impressive.”
DiPietro, who inherits a team that was 13-40 overall and 6-20 in the Southland Conference last season, will look to his roots back East to supplement his recruiting.
“I talked to some of the travel coaches I know already and let them know I'm making the move down here,” DiPietro said. “So yeah that would be great, but I don't know if they want to go that far from up there, but we're getting a brand new stadium built for baseball and softball and it's going to be all turf.
“I think with that and the picturesque campus, it's a great recruiting tool, so kids will want to visit from up there and would want to come here to from up there.”
At Camden Catholic, DiPietro spent his last 15 seasons as the head coach, totaling a 274-98 record and claiming three state championships (1991 to 1993).
DiPietro, the winningest coach in Irish softball history, was named the South Jersey Softball Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1991. He was inducted into the Camden Catholic Hall of Fame in April of 2014.
He also coached with the Philadelphia Force of the National Pro Fastpitch League, the South Jersey Hurricanes Amateur Softball Association 18-and-under tournament team and the All-Star Trophies ASA Class A tournament team.
"I am very excited to be named the new head coach at UIW," said DiPietro. "I want to thank Interim Athletics Director, Mark Papich, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Services, Dr. David Jurenovich, and the entire selection committee for choosing me to lead the Cardinal softball program.
“I will give my all to the players, the alumni, the university, and the community.”