OAKLAND — Chris DelGiudice isn’t a man of many words. No one knows that better than his sister, Hannah DelGiudice, a senior on the Messalonskee girls soccer team.

“His token saying is ‘sort it out,’” Hannah said Wednesday as the Eagles wrapped up their final training session in advance of Thursday’s Class A North season opener on the road against Brewer. “Especially now that I’m older, he knows that I know what I did wrong. He just tells me to find the problem and fix it. He doesn’t really harp on it during games.

“After the game, he’s more like, ‘Really? Come on. You should have had that.’ I’m like, ‘I know. I’m sorry.’”

Hannah DelGiudice prepares to play goalie during a Messalonskee soccer practice Wednesday in Oakland. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Parents coaching their own children exists all over the Maine high school sports landscape. But the examples of siblings teaming up together — one as the coach, one as the player — are hard to find. But when Chris DelGiudice was named the Messalonskee coach prior to the start of the 2018 season, he inherited an Eagles side in which his sister was already entrenched as a multi-year starter at the keeper position.

It wasn’t as awkward a position as one would might imagine.

“It was a little weird at first, trying to transition from being a brother and a coach,” said Chris, who graduated from Messalonskee in 2009 and is 10 years older than Hannah. “But we have a big enough gap (in age), and I’ve kind of coached and helped her as she grew up anyway. It just kind of came down to making sure that we know when we’re here, I’m the coach and she’s a player, and when we go back home we can go back to being a brother and sister and all of that.”

Part of Hannah’s appreciation for soccer came from watching her brother play. Chris was a four-year starter and a captain at Husson University, where he was a walk-on before claiming his spot on the roster as a center back during his career.

Hannah remembers watching those college games her brother played.

“I used to love going to watch him play,” she said. “I used to be a center back and that’s what he played in college, so I loved watching him play and learning from watching him and how he played that position.”

When she was in middle school, Hannah made the switch to goalkeeper. Remarkably, she beat out three other older players to earn the starting spot for Messalonskee as a freshman. Despite numerous attempts to unseat her by other, talented players in the program over the years, she will become a four-year starter as soon as Thursday night’s opener kicks off.

Her presence, her coach said, solidifies one area on a pitch full of transitional pieces for Messalonskee this season.

“It’s great for us. That’s somebody who’s been at that level for four years and has all the experience she has,” Chris said. “You can see the confidence in the girls just by having her out there. They’ll play the ball to her and have no problem with that — even sometimes when they probably shouldn’t — but they just know she’ll find a way to get it out. Having somebody back there, even someone the younger girls can lean on, that’s just huge.”

“This year, I know I have to step it up because I’m a senior,” Hannah said. “And now we have (Jenamarie Boston) who transferred from Waterville, and she’s amazing. It’s just pushing me to be better. We push each other, which is great. On the off-chance I get hurt, we also have this fantastic other goalie.

“I think we’re going to have a really good season.”

If there’s an area where brother and sister are different, it’s in their personalities. Chris is almost always serious. He is often direct, without being rude, and he doesn’t spend much time on idle chit-chat. Hannah, on the other hand, is a bit more gregarious.

While Hannah likes Chris’ direct approach, she’s aware it’s not for everybody — though the Eagles did lose only twice in his first season on the bench last season, the second of those coming in a regional final appearance.

“We are pretty different, but we are alike in a lot of ways,” Hannah said. “We are both quite blunt, which sometimes clashes. He’s more straight to the point when talking to some of the girls and tells them what they have to do. Where if I’m trying to help a girl, I try to not help her feel bad. I’m a little … ‘softer?’ Let’s put it that way. I’m a little softer.”

Messalonskee girls soccer coach Chris DelGiudice instructs players during practice Wednesday in Oakland. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

No matter what, Hannah is remembering to enjoy her brother’s company — and his tutelage — during her final soccer season at Messalonskee.

“We have some pretty good conversations,” Hannah said. “I’ll ask him what he saw in a game that maybe I didn’t see. He’ll tell me straight up, and we’ll go from there. I like that a lot more than a coach who kind of beats around the bush. He’s just very to the point. ‘You need to fix your punts,’ or ‘your drop kicking needs to go further, look down more’ and then I fix it and it’s fine. It’s not this constant thing — it’s just tell me what I have to do and I do it.

“That’s really helpful, especially for me trying to grow as a soccer player and trying to play in college.”

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