Growing up in the DePaola household was a challenging proposition when it came to Andy and Janet's four athletic, competitive children.
But it is their collective sibling rivalries that has fueled one of Hereford High School's most successful family legacies. The DePaolas are state champions in football, boys lacrosse, cheerleading and baseball.
"Everything was a competition. And each of them had to win. That's just the way that they were. I didn't encourage it, but I also didn't exactly discourage it either," said Andy DePaola Sr., whose children are Ashley, 25, Andrew Jr., 23, Nick, 20, and, Vinnie, 18. "They just had to beat each other out in just about everything and every day stuff."
"First it was Andrew going at it with Ashley. And then, it was Andrew and Nick. And then, it was Nick and Vinnie. Over the years, they just competed in everything," DePaola recalled. "Whether it was lifting, or running, or football, academics or whatever. ... They've been competing with each other ever since they were really, really little."
Were there ever fights?
"Of course. It would get heated whenever Nick and Andrew would wrestle. And Nick was kind of strong, because Nick would pick up Andrew and throw him through a window," said Andy DePaola Sr. "I had to fix the same window four times. The last time they broke it, I just put a board on it because I knew that they were going to break it again."
A 2004 Hereford graduate, Ashley DePaola played four years of soccer for the Bulls. He was captain of the team as a senior and was a member of championship cheerleading squads in 2002 and 2003.
A 2005 graduate, Andrew DePaola Jr. quarterbacked the school's state championship football team in 2002 and the state runner-up squad in 2004, plus starred as a baseball second baseman in 2005.
Before graduating in 2009, Nick DePaola helped the Bulls' football team to reach the state finals and semifinals in 2007 and 2008 respectively. He was also a member of the Class 3A-2A state title-winning lacrosse teams of 2008 and 2009.
A Hereford senior, Vinnie DePaola has played football and looks to be a member of his third straight state championship lacrosse team, and the Bulls' fourth consecutive title-winner.
"Vinnie's the last of us, you know?" said Andrew DePaola Jr., who played football at Rutgers before graduating two years ago. "As usual, bringing up the rear."
Over the years, the DePaola family has contributed more than just its athleticism to the Hereford program. Janet DePaola has spent time working the stadium's concessions and other athletic boosters events.
"When Andrew Jr. played baseball, Andy Sr. and another father, Scott North, decided to build the baseball dugouts. They donated their own money and just did it for the school and did the entire thing themselves," said Janet DePaola.
"On top of the viewing stand over the press box, where you can video and film the games from the deck that has a roof on it, well, Andy and another father decided that it was time that Hereford had a new deck up there," said Janet DePaola. "So, it was Andy and Tim Brown, whose son played football and lacrosse there, they got together and did that. They just built that by putting a new roof on it so that you don't need an umbrella when it rains."
An owner of his own roofing company, Andy DePaola Sr. has spent countless days and nights using his state-of-the art video equipment to produce DVDs of games and activities involving the Bulls' athletic teams.
Coaches have used those DVDs to scout opponents, and Hereford's student-athletes have benefitted from them during the college recruiting process.
Their involvment began with Ashley, who remains the pioneer.
"Growing up, Ashley was always the first, really tough cookie of all of us kids. I mean, she didn't take no crap from anybody, especially me," said Andrew Jr., who is 20 months younger than Ashley and who was a year behind her at Hereford.
"If she didn't like something, you know, she would hit me or put me in my place," said Andrew Jr. "At the same time, if someone was picking on me, Ashley would tell them to back off."
Ashley DePaoala also became the first professional athlete, having recently ended a two-year stint as a Baltimore Ravens' cheerleader.
"When we knew that Andrew was going to go to Rutgers, we were all sitting round at the dinner table. So I told Nick and Andrew and Vince, 'You know, the first one that makes it to the NFL, I'll give you $5,000,'" said Andy Sr.
"So then, she becomes a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader and she comes to me for $5,000, and I didn't know what to say," said Andy DePaola Sr. "I said, 'Wait a minute, Ashley, that didn't include you.' And she was like, 'Well, wait a minute, I was at the same table as Andrew, Vince and Nick.'"
As a sophomore, Andy DePaola Jr. quarterbacked the Bulls to a Class 2A state title winning squad. As a senior, he guided the Bulls to a Class 2A state runner-up finish and also starred in baseball as a second-baseman, earning All-Baltimore Metro honors in that sport.
"I was an eighth grader when Andy was a senior, so I came in when he left," Nick DePaola said. "I didn't look at my position as being as much as one of pressure as much of one of more or less like a challenge."
"As far as sports, you know, I just tried to do my best. But, you know, I'm a competitor, so I always wanted to be better," said Nick DePaola. "Obviously, I'm happy for him with what he did, but I always had the personality of wanting to be better."
Like Andrew, Nick starred in football, as a running back and defensive back playing on state runner-up and state semifinalist football teams.
But it was not until the spring seasons that Nick earned a state title, doing so as a midfielder on the Bulls' Class 3A-2A state championship lacrosse teams in 2008, and 2009.
When it came to choosing a college, that, said Nick DePaola, was easy.
"Andrew was always talking about Rutgers. He would come home on breaks and, so, we always kept up. He was talking about what I was doing and what it was like for him at Rutgers," said Nick DePaola, now a 6-foot, 205-pound junior who has seen action as a linebacker for the Scarlet Knights.
Andrew DePaola Jr. stands 6-foot-1, weighs 235 pounds and hopes to land a position on an NFL team as a long snapper.
"I kind of liked what Andrew was saying about the school up here," said Nick DePaola, who is considering majoring in communications. "Andrew said that he loved it up here, so I took his word for it because he was pretty smart. I trusted him."
Nick's graduation left Vinnie as the last of the brood at Hereford, where, as a senior defensive midfielder in lacrosse, there still is some unfinished business left for him to attend to.
The lacrosse team is unbeaten and in search of its fourth straight state title, an honor that would give the youngest DePaola sole bragging rights as a member of three state championship teams in one sport.
"I keep hearing from everyone like, 'Your older brother, Andrew's got one state championship, and Nick's got two, so you've got to get three.' I've got to get three, so right now, that's what I'm striving for," Vinnie DePaola said.
"Hopefully, when that last whistle blows, it will be after we've won a third state championship in lacrosse," said Vinnie Dapaola. "There has definitely been a lot of pressure over the years, growing up with all my siblings being successful. Thing is, when my high school career is over, it's going to be bittersweet."
Ashley DePaola agrees.
"My parents say that they'll still do the games, and we'll definitely still be big supporters," said Ashley Depaola, who has coached the Bulls' junior varsity cheeleaders in the past. "I know that I will forever be a supporter, but as far as the Hereford dynasty, when it comes to the DePaolas, that's coming to an end."