The third try was a charm. Three times a group of coaches in Connecticut met to try and start a high school coaches association. It became a reality in December of 1950.
The first attempt took place in 1936 when coaches from New Haven, Meriden, Waterbury and Bridgeport gathered at Payne Whitney gymnasium in New Haven. Some of the coaches in attendance were: Frank Barnikow of Meriden; Emmons “Chick” Bowen, New Haven Hillhouse; William Schofield, Crosby of Waterbury; Pete Foley, Naugatuck; Ed Reilly of Bridgeport Central; Paul Kuczo, Stamford High School; Jim Lee, Wilby High School of Waterbury; and John Knecht, Jr. of Branford High School.
Schofield was named the president of the association, but due to a lack of interest by coaches statewide and the fact all areas of the state did not have representatives, the first attempt at a state coaches association fell flat.
In 1941, another group of coaches tried to form an association. They met at the old Guard Hotel in Hartford. About 20 coaches attended. Chick Shea of New Britain was in attendance along with “Mr. Basketball” Tom M. Monahan of Bristol; Tom Kelley of Manchester; Babe Allen of Bulkeley of Hartford; Tom Callaghan of Windham High School; Johnny Newell of Hartford Public; Joe Fontana of Lewis High School in Southington and John McGrath of East Hartford High School.
The group agreed to try and get the idea off the ground again and named Shea president and Kelley Secretary-Treasurer. A $1 dues was set. However, the association never got off the ground. The forties found many coaches entering the armed services. A dearth of leadership put a crimp on starting a state coaches association. Plus, athletic director in some of the large cities didn’t think there was a need for a coaches association.
But in 1950, Steve Miska, Warren Harding’s football and basketball coach started the third effort to get the coaches to start an association. The Bridgeport coach sent letters to all the coaches in the state, inviting them to a meeting set for early December at the White Eagle Hall in the Park City. It was a success with a good cross-section of coaches around the state making the trip to Bridgeport. Everyone was in agreement there was a need for the coaches to form an organization. With Miska chairing the meeting a motion was made for the coaches to meet again after the first of the year in 1951. Each coach was asked to try and bring other coaches to the next meeting. It was agreed the coaches would meet in March of ’51 at the Ray Tompkins House in New Haven.
Close to 50 coaches met in the Elm City. A few athletic directors were in attendance, supporting the need for a coaches association, but also suggested the timing wasn’t right. They suggested further that a more thorough study be done on the matter with another meeting to set up a future date. It was at that time the great football coach from Danbury, Ed Crotty, sternly pronounced the need for an association right away. He added, “Are we men or mice?” He motioned a coaches association be formed that evening. Tris Carta, track coach at Fairfield High School, seconded the motion. Miska put it on the floor for a vote. It was unanimously approved.
Thus the present Connecticut High School Coaches Association became a reality. A committee was established to form a slate of officers and to work on drawing up a constitution. The committee consisted of Miska, chairman; Waino Fillback, Middletown; Whitey Piurek, West Haven; Joe Fontana; Howard Dickenman, Norwich Free Academy; Ed Crotty, Ted Knurek, Plainville; Charles “Boots” Jarvis, Ansonia; Tris Carta and Ed Finn, Shelton.
Minutes of Meeting Held June 11, 1951
Held at Ray Tompkins House, New Haven
1. Forty-five member schools voted to accept the newly formulated constitution.
2. Officers for the new organization were voted on and elected officers are as follows:
President Steve Miska of Warren Harding, Bridgeport
Vice President Whitey Piurek of West Haven
Secretary Tris Carta of Fairfield
Treasurer Waino Fillback of Middletown
3. Plans were made to contact the president of the 12 conferences in the state and ask them to have their respective groups vote on and forward to the president names of coaches who would represent each conference on the executive council of the State High School Coaches Association. These delegates would meet with the organizations’ officers on September 10, 1951 at a location convenient for all concerned.
4. The Purpose of the September meeting would be to organize committees from the executive council to represent all sports (1) to organize committees from the executive council to represent all sports; (2) to appoint a committee to prepare a scheduled program for a general meeting which will be held on and in conjunction with teachers convention in October.
5. A subject placed on the records for future reference was the mutual recognition by all conferences of the membership card of this organization to all athletic events.
Letter from Secretary Tris Carta
June 12, 1951
At the state coaches meeting in New Haven last night, the group adopted a constitution and elected officers for 1951-52. Said officers expiring October, 1952.
The newly elected officers are Steve Miska of Harding, Bridgeport, president; Whitey Piurek of West Haven, vice president; Tris Carta of Fairfield, secretary; Waino Fillback of Middletown, treasurer.
Forty-five member schools were represented at the meeting and the group was highly enthusiastic about the state coaches organization.
Our next step is to inform all conferences throughout the state to send names, allotted number of representatives to our president, who plans to call executive council meeting on September 10th at a convenient place for all concerned.
Enclosed you will find membership cards for coaches of all sports.
Please return to me, one dollar for each card along with the name of the coach joining so that we may enroll them as chartered members and coaches in good standing. It is hoped that we will make these membership cards acceptable for admittance to all high school athletic events throughout the state. Several conferences have unofficially approved of this idea already.
Yours in sports,
Tris M. Carta
Things begin to roll…
Eichner’s Restaurant in Bridgeport was the scene of the first gathering of coaches in their new organization in the fall of 1951. It was convenient for them as all schools were closed due to a teachers convention.
Outstanding college coaches were invited to speak on athletic problems and coaching techniques. For the next 20 years the coaches would sponsor similar “conventions” until the State Department of Education ended teachers convention days.
The first five coaches conventions were held at Eichner’s. In 1956 they were moved to the Waverly Inn in Cheshire, remaining there until 1976. Growth was obvious in the state coaches association during that period and up to the present – from a start of 300 members to the current 3,000+!
With membership mushrooming, more activities were added by the association. A coaches picnic was started by Steve Miska in 1955 on the grounds of Eichner’s. It was a good time for all the coaches as it came during the second week in June, after all the spring tournaments were completed. The coaches could mingle and enjoy good food and beverages. Later the picnic moved to the Knights of Columbus Park in Plainville, Rockville Parkin Bristol, Greens Park in Yalesville, Arnold College in Milford, Warsaw Park in Ansonia and, finally, to the present location, the Mountainside Park in Wallingford.
The picnic has been chaired most capably by Ben Zajac, former coach and athletic director at Platt in Meriden since 1960.
In 1965 another project was born thatnks to the efforts of Bob McKee, former football and baseball coach at Conard High School in West Hartford. He proposed naming a coach-of-the-year in each sport. The idea was accepted by the association’s executive board and the first recognition dinner was held at the Waverly Innin Cheshire in 1965. A few years later the name of the dinner was changed to the “Outstanding Coach of the Year” dinner. Attendance has blossomed from 300 at the first dinner to more than 800 at the recent annual dinner at the spacious Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.
The next proposal for the association came from Larry McHugh, former football coach at Xavier High School in Middletown. He suggested a Hall of Fame for coaches in the state. The executive board put its stamp of approval on the proposal and, thanks to the hard work and planning of McHugh, the first induction took place in 1978. The Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame was located in the Veteran’s Coliseum in New Haven. Its current location is at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The Hall of Fame is a beautiful tribute to coaches who have given of their time and dedication to high school youngsters. The annual induction takes place in November at the Aqua Turf Club.
Chronological developments of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association
1936 – First attempt to form a state high school coaches association. Bill Schofield of Crosty High School in Waterbury was elected president.
1940 – Second attempt to form a coaches association. Chick Shea of New Britain High School elected president; Tom Kelley of Manchester High School, secretary-treasurer.
1950 – December: preliminary meeting of the high school coaches, called by Steve Miska, coach at Harding, at White Eagle Hall in Bridgeport.
1951 – March: 45 coaches met at the Ray Tompkins House in New Haven, voted to form the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA).
1951 – June: Officers were elected for new organization: Steve Miska, president; Tris Carta, secretary; Waino Fillback, treasurer. Constitution adopted.
1951 – October: First general session of coaches convention held at Eichner’s Restaurant, Bridgeport.
1955 – June: First coaches picnic at Eichner’s Restaurant.
1957 – Appointed Joseph J. Fontana executive secretary.
1958 – August: First all-star football game played in Bridgeport at Kennedy Stadium, Nutmeg Bowl, East vs. West.
1958 – Thomas R. Monahan appointed permanent treasurer.
1960 – Code of Ethics for coaches proposed by Steve Miska and adopted.
1960 – CHSCA incorporated as a stock (non-profit organization) – legal work done by the late Attorney Francis Kane of Southington.
1961 – CHSCA adopted logo that was accomplished through efforts of Steve iska, working with members of an art class at Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport.
1963 – Placement service for members of the CHSCA… a clearinghouse of information pertaining to possible openings in the field of coaching (discontinued in 1971).
1965 – First recognition dinner honoring outstanding coaches in each sport.
1965 – First coaches newsletter distributed to coaches. First editor John Fontana, Southington High School.
1965 – Formation of the National High School Coaches Association – Tom Monahan and Joseph J. Fontana took part in the formation of the organization in Atlanta, Georgia on July 10.
1970 – First coaches directory distributed to coaches. First Baseball All-State banquet held, chairmen John Fontana and Ken Kezer.
1974 – Women admitted to the CHSCA.
1974 – First All-Star baseball game played. Chairman John Fontana, Southington High School. Connecticut hosts National Convention at the Park Plaza Hotel in New Haven.
1975 – First Basketball Festival All-Star game Saturday, March 22 at Bristol Central High School, chairman Bob Healy, Ellington.
1977 – Resumed the CHSCA coaches clinic at Southern Connecticut State University. It was formerly sponsored by the CIAC (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association) at UConn.
1978 – First CHSCA Hall of Fame induction, Park Plaza Hotel, New Haven.
1983 – June: First girls softball All-Star game played at Falcon Field, Meriden.
1984 – Hartford Courant and CHSCA select All-State in all 21 sports. Bob Cecchini, Suffield becomes Treasurer.
1987 – First All-Star girls basketball game at Morgan School in Clinton.
1988 – The CHSCA was the host to the National High School Athletic Coaches convention for the second time at the Treadway Cromwell Hotel in Cromwell.
1988 – John Fontana appointed Executive Secretary. First CHSCA Field Hockey All-Star game started, Babby Nuhn, chairperson, North Branford High School. John Fontana, Southington, becomes full time Executive Director.
1991 – First CHSCA Volleyball All-Star game started. Betsy Gilmartin, chairperson, Mercy High School, Middletown. Charles Sharos, Soth Windsor becomes Recording Secretary.
1992 – First CHSCA girls soccer All-Star game started. Jack Shea, Wethersfield High School, chairman. First CHSCA boys soccer All-Star game started. Steve Kassoy, Hartford Public, chairman.
1995 – First CIAC boys lacross tournament annual north-south All-Star game started in 1979 with Guy Whitten, Wilton High School, chairman.
1996 – National Convention returns to Connecticut with CHSCA hosting for the third time, held in Cromwell.
1997 – CHSCA restructures Executive Board and committees.
1998 – New policy instituted for gold passes. Start of CT/RI Senior High School All-Star Football game.
1999 – First CHSCA/Nike Football Clinic held.
2000 – First $1,000 Scholar/Athletic Scholarships awarded. CHSCA leaves Hartford Courant and now chooses all the All-State sports teams annually.
2000 – CHSCA recertification proposal accepted by State Department of Education.
2002 – Connecticut hosts National Convention for the fourth time at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell and at Wesleyan University.
2003 – CHSCA Hall of Fame moved to Rentschler Field.
2003 – CT/RI Senior All-Star Football game moved to Rentschler Field.
2003 – UConn AD Lew Perkins/Larry McHugh start honoring CHSCA Hall of Fame inductees at a UConn football game annually.
2004 – Due process bill for coaches accepted by state legislature.
2004 – CHSCA by-laws changes made.
2004 – Creation of CHSCA website.
2005 – CHSCA starts honoring player of the year in each sport. CHSCA starts honoring team of the year in each sport.
2006 – CHSCA creates coaches merit award.
2006 – CHSCA puts Michaels Cup at Rentschler Field Room of Honor. CHSCA, CAAD, CIAC join forces on teaching coaches certification and recertification.
2010 – Connecticut Coach newsletter moves to a magazine format. CHSCA honors “The” Number 1 male and female teams of the year from all sports throughout the state of Connecticut.
2011 – CHSCA honor “the” Number 1 male and female player of the year from all sports throughout the state of Connecticut.
2012 – CHSCA joins to help the Wounded Warrior Project.
2013 – New, updated website launched.