His involvement in athletics grew when he became an Associate Scout for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals. But DiStefano said that there was something unfulfilling about the job: “As a sports agent, it is more about making money. I had more satisfaction working with the athlete on an individual level,” he said.
DiStefano, who has been Psycho-Forensic Evaluator for the Public Defender’s Office in Delaware for over 15 years, has been around a lot of criminals who possibly had a shot in the majors, just as he had.
He recently became a certified sports counselor and pastoral sports counselor through the International Sports Professionals Association, and decided to combine his criminal justice background and love and knowledge of sports to begin a sports counseling initiative for prison athletes at Howard R. Young Correctional Institute in Wilmington.
“My goal is to get them into a positive mindset so they are more likely to be motivated,” DiStefano said. But he said that the ultimate goal of the initiative is crime prevention.
He has teamed up with Warden Philip Morgan and Tonia Priestley, Recreational Supervisor at Howard Young. One correctional officer helps out when he can but DiStefano counsels the prisoners on his own time around his busy work schedule.
DiStefano is currently counseling ten inmates, and he said two have been released. He said that as a part of the inmate’s rehabilitation, they also get to play sports. A basketball scrimmage was held at Howard Young and attended by a junior college coach from Pennsylvania who expressed interest in recruiting some of the participants. “It gives them something positive to focus on,” he said.
But DiStefano knows that if the program keeps growing, he is going to need help. He is hoping to recruit some college students who are interested in volunteering with him at the prison. “A criminal justice or sports management background is ideal, along with a lot of enthusiasm,” he said.
If you are interested in volunteering with Ernie DiStefano, send him your resume at:
P.O. Box 743 New Castle, DE 19720