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Former Navy slot backs coach Joe DuPaix — a returned missionary — has been hired as head coach at Southern Virginia University. DuPaix coached at the NCAA DIII school for two years (2016-2017)

How new SVU football coach Joe DuPaix is drawing upon the examples of three fellow Latter-day Saint head coaches — Ken Niumatalolo, Bronco Mendenhall and his father, Roger DuPaix

Returned missionary/veteran coach Joe DuPaix returns to Southern Virginia following a memorable stint at Navy

By Jason Swensen

21 Jan 23

Earlier this week, Church member Joe DuPaix was named the head football coach at Southern Virginia University — a NCAA DIII program that won only one game last season.


Administrators at the college — which formally embraces Latter-day Saint guiding values —  are confident their new hire can flip the Knights’ performance on the gridiron. DuPaix is a seasoned coach who has plied his trade at all levels of the college game. His new job marks a return to SVU, where he was the head coach for two seasons (2016-2017) before leaving to be a position coach at Navy.


“This is exciting,” DuPaix told Church Ball Magazine. “There’s a ton of energy surrounding this opportunity at Southern Virginia….I’m pretty fired-up.”


The school is thrilled to have DuPaix back on the Knights’ sideline, added SVU athletic director Deidra Dryden.


"Coach DuPaix was excellent for us before returning to Navy in 2018,” Dryden said  in a school release. “Now he's returning after five more years at the highest level of collegiate football, including Navy's widely successful 2019 — arguably the best in their program's history.

"We're excited to see how this additional experience will contribute to Joe's success at Southern Virginia University."


The returned missionary (Colombia Barranquilla Mission) brings to SVU more than two decades of college coaching experience in recruiting, scouting and executing the “Xs-and-Os,”.


But DuPaix also possesses key lessons he learned from a trio of fellow Latter-day Saint head football coaches — Ken Niumatalolo (Navy), Bronco Mendenhall (BYU and Virginia) and his own father and legendary high school coach, Roger DuPaix.


From Coach Niumatalolo, who spent 15 years at the football helm of the United States Naval Academy, DuPaix “learned to lead from the heart and through love.”


DuPaix said that his former boss at Navy was an example of never placing one’s profession and one’s religious beliefs in separate boxes. 

“Ken Niumatalolo talks about Jesus Christ being the greatest Leader and Teacher — and that’s what a coach is, a leader and a teacher. So what better example do we have than Christ?,” he said.


Additionally, Niumatalolo taught DuPaix to build a college football program on a foundation of brotherhood and love.


 “The love that you have for your teammates,” he said, “causes you to work your tail off.”


DuPaix worked as Mendenhall’s recruiting coordinator and running backs coach for two seasons at Brigham Young University (2011-2012). “Coach Mendenhall taught me the importance of setting forth a vision — and having systems in place to get you where you’re trying to go,” he said. 


Such “multiple systems,” DuPaix added, are instrumental in recruiting and helping players reach their full potential on the field.


DuPaix’s father, Roger DuPaix, was a high school football coaching legend in Utah for 35 years — winning over 300 games and eight state titles. Counted among his many stand-out players was his son/quarterback, Joe, who was the 1990 4A Utah State MVP on Skyline High’s state championship team

“From my dad, I have learned so many lessons,” said DuPaix. “From the time I could walk, I was on his hip pocket, just watching and paying attention to everything he did.”


The elder DuPaix taught his son that caring for players was a head coach’s most sacred duty.

“My dad also ran his program in a manner where he was always super even-keeled,” said DuPaix. “He was never too high. He was never too low. He was always optimistic. Always positive. Always building people up.”


DuPaix recognizes parallels between coaching at a faith-anchored school such as SVU and his past coaching jobs at Navy and BYU. All three institutions ask their student-athletes to adhere to “codes” beyond the playing fields.


“It’s a blessing anytime you can work at a place that is in alignment with how you want to live your life,” he said. “And to do it while coaching football each fall?  I can’t think of a better opportunity.”


DuPaix and his wife, Monica, are the parents of eight children.

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