Former Student Athletes return as Coaches

Head Cross Country and Track & Field distance Coach, Mr. Kevin Schumann now leads his team in his own footsteps in the world of running after his D1 Cross Country and Track Career at Sacred Heart University.

Along with Schumann, many other athletic teachers at Naugatuck High School have continued their honorable tradition leaving the spotlight for the sidelines. 

Mr. Matthew Burke (NHS science teacher & Football Coach), Mrs. Stephanie Deluca (NHS Spanish teacher & Tennis Coach), Mr. Mark Swanson (NHS math teacher & Football Coach), and Mr. Kevin Schumann (NHS history teacher & Track/XC Coach) are just a handful of teachers who wanted to share the love they’ve grown for the sport with a new generation of young athletes.

It is evident that many of Naugatuck High School’s teachers just needed to come back to the sport after the personal experiences they’ve shared with it.

 Many of our dedicated NHS coaches have expressed that their love for the sport is what jump-started their coaching career, but their connections with their athletes are what has kept them around.

“I love the sport but I love the kids that do the sport even better,” said Schumann.

  It’s clear that coaches have a huge impact on their athletes, all throughout their lives. Many coaches aspire to be and have learned from their coaches in high school.

“I was fortunate to have great coaches that were role models for me, they always had high expectations and worked very hard. My coaches always wanted the best for me, they pushed you to do more than you think you could,” said Swanson 

 With strong drive and determination, coaches have been able to leave a long-lasting legacy on their athletes, who are now coaches, hoping to do the very same.

“I had a great high school coach,” says Schumann. “We knew that we could joke with him and we felt comfortable around him, but once it was time to work, it was time to work. We trusted him and knew that what he was doing was well thought out, and the results showed.,” 

Now coaches, these past athletes have looked up to their coaches while their success gradually grew, on the flip side NHS athletes are now looking to these past athletes with confidence and assurance for success.

Mrs. Deluca feels that her prior knowledge and accomplishments in tennis benefit her as a coach, so her players are able to take her more seriously. “I know how to play and play often so there is more validity in what I am explaining to them,” said Deluca.

For our coaches, coming to school daily, now as a teacher, and not continuing to take part in a sport they have been a part of for years, just didn’t feel right,

Burke shares that, “being back in the building (NHS) and not being a part of it (the football team) kinda felt weird for me, as a student it (football) was a part of my life every day and as a teacher, it was no longer in my life, so it just made me want to coach. I felt like my experiences could help contribute and push kids.”

As our coaches recognize their athletes’ struggles, the comparison between them and their athletes are identical. 

“When things are difficult, when somebody’s hurt, if they’re struggling with racing, I know how that feels. As an athlete I was hurt, I had spells where I wasn’t PRing. For my athletes, I think it is good for them to know that their coach has been exactly where they are. I want them to understand that I know what they’re doing is difficult, but I also know that they can do it,” said Schumann.

Similar to Schumann, Burke says that he has a different kind of understanding for his athletes because he was in the same position not too long ago. “I know what hours in the weight room and hours on the field feels like, I know that it stinks but I was there too and I know that they are capable of getting through it. I know what comes out of those difficult days, a successful athlete and a successful program” he added. 

Difficulty in training for games, matches, and races, while still managing school are all undertakings high school athletes have to face, but having an understanding teacher/coach who once had similar circumstances can make our enjoyable yet stressful sports a whole lot easier. 

“It’s fun, it’s a different kind of relationship with the students, it’s a nice relationship outside of the academic structure,” said Deluca.

A major influence on a successful program is having teachers in the building who are also coaches, they are able to keep up grades and stop little incidents. This addition to schools helps to create an incentive to school; a successful sports season.

 “I have always professed that the kids I coach need to be scholars first, athletes second. It is very hard to succeed in athletics if you don’t have discipline in the classroom,” said Swanson.

Our committed coaches get reminders of their gratitude for their sport when they are able to watch their athletes thrive in a sport they both share a bond within. These special teachers felt the need to give back to a community that gave so much to them, in hopes to spark a new generation of devoted athletes.