‘Coach Dad’ brings support, experience to Tolman sideline

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’ve ever been to a Tolman High School football game, then you’ve no doubt seen the team’s biggest fan patrolling the sideline.

Phil Caito, father of head coach Dave Caito, is the Tigers’ most loyal supporter despite battling Parkinson’s disease at the age of 76.

Caito said his father, known by many as “Coach Dad,” hasn’t missed a game in three years, and manages to build a great relationship with the teenagers on the team.

“I’ve been playing Tolman football for four years, and he’s been here every year,” said senior Nathan Gagnon. “He comes to every game and always brings an emotional support.”

Long before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, Phil Caito was a star on the gridiron for Mount Pleasant – winning back-to-back state titles in 1956 and 1957. He went on to play for Boston University, and brings all of that experience to the Tolman practice field.

“For him being around us, just the morals and ethics that he has that I try to exude through our players, they can see it through him,” said Dave Caito.

Despite Caito’s physical limitations, he’s able to spend ample time around a game and a son that he loves.

“It’s a great feeling. My son cared for me over the years, I’ve had Parkinson’s disease for 18 years,” he explained. “It’s not full-blown Parkinson’s, that’s why I’ve lived a lot longer than other people with Parkinson’s disease, but it’s a chore to get through the day.”

“He’s the best dad anyone could ever have,” added Dave. “If I could be half the man he is, I’d have an accomplishment.”

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