Updated: Mar 31
Our very own Coach Michael Pina Jr. had a chance this week to go on the Jon and Jon podcast on the campus of Nichols College.
Coach Pina Jr. has had a very interesting journey in his football career at this point. He played at Xaverian Brothers high school, Western New England, Mount Ida College, and Nichols College. He is currently a Graduate Assistant at Nichols College.
In the interview they talked about his time in high school, his time at Western New England, Mount Ida, Nichols College, and the up-and-coming company of QB Velocity.
What was the experience like playing at Xaverian?
I absolutely love Xaverian. I loved my experience there. Went there all four years of high school. One thing I loved about the experience is that it was super competitive. That's how I really learned how to compete, and I developed a strong work ethic through the grind of it all.
Overall, we have guys that are in or have gone to the NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL, so it's a highly-competitive culture when it comes to sports and academics too. I mean, academics is a whole different standard there, so was I.
I was prepared when it came to college for academics and athletics, overall. Athletically we had great team. All three years we made the state championship, all three years. Junior and Senior year we won the state championship, unfortunately we lost my Sophomore year, but it was an unbelievable ride.
Who did you backup there as a Sophomore and Junior there at Xaverian?
So, Jake Farrell was the quarterback that started in front of me when I was a sophomore and junior. And the crazy thing is we had other quarterbacks other than Jake that could have also started at if they were at other programs throughout the state.
But Jake was an awesome quarterback. He was a true dual threat, he probably ran about a 4.63, multiple sport athlete football, hockey, and baseball. He ended up getting drafted by the Yankees, so you know. He's an awesome baseball player, played first base at Northwestern, hit above 300.
Jake was a great guy to play behind and I learned a lot from him. He was a great leader, a great quarterback, and a great teammate.
Do you think being a player and learning under someone else helped you in your coaching career now?
Yes 100%, and that's always the type of guy I try to be like when I was a player too. I wanted to pass on things to guys like yourself and other guys on our team, so that's how it was. I think that's really translated well for me as a coach because, for QB velocity and for Nichols, I am able to use all these different experiences I have had with different teammates, different coaches through all my different schools, and everyone I've been I've been around. Learning things under all these different people has definitely helped me be a better coach.
What was your experience at Western New England like?
My decision to go to Western New England was about how I wanted to win. Western New England is a very successful school and coming out of a winning high school, I wanted to go to a school that was winning as well because I was winning.
I love winning. I mean, I lost twice my whole high school career. So it was, you know, something where 'Wow, that's a great'. But the winning culture was a big reason for me to go there. Western New England is a great school that loves winning just as much as I do and I wanted to go keep on winning under a great coaching staff like Western New England's.
The head coach was a big factor for me going there. He recruited me coming out and. You know, I ultimately decided to go there as far as far as our team. We had a great year. We made the playoffs. We went to a playoff game and finished at 11-1.
So, it was a great year. Awesome, awesome team to be a part of, but for me that year I was pretty low on the depth chart for quarterback. But I was able to see the field through long snapping.
I'll just starting long snapper and I was able to make the travel roster for the playoffs when there's only 53 guys that made the roster. I was one of them as a freshman. For long snapping and making myself versatile so it was a whole other learning experience and. You know something I am able to pass on to different guys.
Did you get a chance to long snap in the playoff game?
So first game in the playoffs, a home game against Husson. The crowd was crazy. That crowd was crazy that game. It was a whole different atmosphere that I was lucky to be a part of.
We went up to Alfred University in New York and that was a whole different experience. I'd never been to that part, you know that far upstate New York so. That game was a great game, it went down right to the wire and we end up losing 35 to 28. It went right down the wire. I only had one play which we punted once.
Something that we really preach at QB velocity is versatility for quarterbacks. Most of the time only one quarterbacks and play the whole game. So, you want to make yourself versatile. If you love football and you want to help out the team and play, make yourself versatile.
Don't kind of be a snob and just stick to quarterback. That's been my mentality through high school and college. I just want to help the team. Even at Nichols, when I was starting quarterback I long snapped a couple of games too.
How was your experience like at Mount Ida?
So, I transfer my second semester of freshman year. A family friend who coached there, Michael Landers, he played high school ball with my uncle. My family's known him forever, so that was a big motivating factor for me to head to Mount Ida.
These are great guys, great coaches. Right next to Boston too. So perfect location for my sport management major and I thought it was great opportunity. There I was able to be the starter my sophomore year. Got some good game experience.
It was something I wanted to do. I wanted to go play, wanted to play somewhere. And I loved Mount Ida. Loved the team, their love, the coaches and then out of nowhere in April, we got the news that the school was shutting down, there's rumors that it got leaked on a Wednesday that the school is shutting down.
Those rumors, and on Friday they made official we all got emails and there was at 12:00 o'clock on a Friday. We got an email saying that the school was getting bought out by UMass Amherst and shooting down. So pretty devastating blow. because we were just kind of 1 big family, they're kind of similar Nichols and was it was devastating.
Do you remember any of the guys that you had to compete against to get the starting job?
It was interesting. It was a lot different than not put that away. Normally about 7 quarterbacks that could have all started at many colleges throughout the country. But one wanna chance terminated?
At first I was going to compete with the starter from the previous year. So, you know, heading in there, I knew I wasn't get anything handed to me and I was ready to go compete and hopefully win the job that they started from the previous year, he ended up transferring.
So, that spring ball I was the only quarterback on the roster. I took every single rep. It was tiring but I got some good work. Heading into camp for the fall season, there were four freshman quarterbacks that came in. I knew I had to compete. It's, you know it's. playing the quarterback position is college football so you know again in another competition and I feel like I was able to slow solidify my position and become the full-time starter for the year.
What was the reason you chose to play for Nichols College?
There's about 20 of us that came over from Ida to Nichols. And the big thing like I'll just mention, Mount Ida was just kind of 1 big family there from football to the rest of campus. And that's what I think really sold it for us.
We got the same type of vibe here at Nichols and the way that Nichols was for. Not only the coaches and also you know, admissions, and everybody else, they were really welcoming towards me and the other students. They were willing to take all of our class credits, something you want when you transfer.
You want somewhere that's going to take as many classes as possible. So, we were lucky enough to be able to come over and get our class credits in and it seemed like a good opportunity where both schools were similar in size as well, so a lot of similarities and you know we really what we was kind of motivated us to come here.
How is it coaching here at Nichols College being a GA?
It's been a good thing. It's been a smooth transition where I feel like for me as a player I was trying to almost be like a coach on the field, especially as a quarterback. That's how you want to kind of be in strike first to be kind of a coach on the field and be that leader.
So, feel like it's been a smooth transition for sure. And it's also a coaching receivers is. Is different for me from playing quarterback my whole life, but it's also it's also a good.
That's a good fit as a quarterback. I know where these receivers gotta be. I know all about their routes, ran all that stuff. So, it's been an overall smooth transition. You know already I've been able to learn a ton in my first year as a GA so it's been good so far.
Receivers need to learn to be patient because there is only one ball going around you know?
Especially the college level, that's a big difference with playing receivers. It is about understanding concept of space, and that's what the guys the receivers I had. You know, Hunter Ferrara, Jake Wood and Tony Martignoli. Those guys were so good at just getting open. Find open spaces and we're always on the same page. I was very fortunate to be able to have those guys all on the same page.
What is QB Velocity?
So, you know, QB Velocity, my dad and I are the Co-founders and the partners for the company and for QB velocity. We're heading into Year 3 now and we we've been able to do a lot of great things and we've made our main focus developing our athletes.
We work with any athletes between ages 7 to 23 all different, all different ages levels. High School, College, youth of course so. One of our main thing is developing athletes through personal training through clinics and also off the field, so that's what we do.
We always like to be that mentor for athletes. That's a huge part in athlete's journeys to be able to have mentors throughout their life and that's one of the main things that we would like to provide for athletes.
Is there anything big in the future for QB Velocity?
Our growth has been pretty good. Pretty fantastic from year to year, month to month. We've been growing like crazy and it's been a lot of fun being able to expand on different locations.
Wherein Eastern Mass, Central Mass, New Hampshire, Maine, I've had Connecticut, Rhode Island kids. So really all over New England we're. currently in and one of the goals is to keep expanding throughout the country and possibly internationally too. We would love to get QB velocity a little bit in Europe and other countries would be awesome.
What is it like coaching with your father? Does he help with the Podcast?
He does not do the podcast with me right now. My co-host is actually my roommate from Mount Ida College. but working with my dad is great. He was my kind of quarterbacks coach and my coach for a lot of my sports growing up.
We worked together very smoothly and it's it works perfectly where he's my partner. I gotta trust him. Obviously, I trust my dad and he trust me so it works out perfect.
Plus, it's an awesome way for us to stay in touch as a family are always talking every single day and keeps building are relationship as well, so that's awesome.
Why did you want to start QB Velocity?
Someone originally kind of asked my dad if he did any quarterback training and kind of what he did for me as a quarterback growing up.
So, we started off doing some like free stuff, free clinics, free sessions and then after that we realized we could make this a business and so we started around my sophomore year of college.
That's what got it started. Things started off kind of slow at that point and after that we were really able to start to build it up, especially now that I'm not playing in college, I am able to devote a ton of time and energy into it.
What is next for Michael Pina the coach?
That's a good question. You know, I still have a little more time left here at Nichols, but I've given it a thought. I'm not exactly sure at this point what I want to do. I've looked at some international options where I can go be a player as well as a coach so I can also coach the youth teams while I am over there playing as well, but eventually I do want to be offensive coordinator whether it is high school or college and eventually be a head coach for a program at some point.
So, I'm going to kind of see where it goes. I guess that you know those are my couple of ideas right now. But you never know what kind of things I'll see once my time here at Nichols is up I could possibly stay here forever. You never know. Have to see where the future will go.