Page 13 - CHSCA.Issue 1 2019-2020
P. 13

Phelps’ Legacy at Canton Impressive
 By Paul Rosano
Coaching has always been some- thing that came natural for Bill Phelps. His father was a coach at the el-
ementary and middle school levels at prep schools, coaching girls lacrosse as early as the 1960s.
When he was at Ithaca College he coached while in school and shortly after graduating he took a football po- sition.
“I had been involved in teaching, I have a phys ed background, so I’ve al- ways been involved with working with kids and coaching since before I got out of college,” Phelps said.
He landed a job in Connecticut at Ethel Walker School, which set off a 30-year period of coaching three sports before finally giving up one, wrestling, eight years ago.
“I couldn’t keep doing three sports a year. It got a little bit tough and phys- ical,” Phelps said.
He has coached boys and girls soccer, girls lacrosse (at Simsbury for 20 years), boys golf and wrestling.
He started coaching wrestling at Canton in 1982, while still at Ethel Walker, and moved over to Canton as an elementary physical education teacher and boys soccer head coach in 1986. He’s has taught at all levels in his 38 years at Canton.
His teams won two CIAC Class S boys soccer championships, 1995 and 2003, and had one Class S run- ner-up finish in 1987. He is quickly approaching 300 career wins in boys soccer, but never one to pay too much attention to records, he said he was probably about eight wins away com- ing into the season. He also won 299
Bill Phelps
matches as wrestling head coach and was happy to leave it one win shy of the 300 milestone.
He was named 2018 CHSCA boys soccer Coach of the Year and was a national finalist this spring. He also received a Coach of the Year award from the Northern Central Connecticut Conference officials five years ago, something that is particularly meaning- ful for him.
His son Brian was a member of the 2003 state championship team and scored the winning goal.
“That was a real highlight, to be able to coach your own son,” Phelps said. “But probably the best high- lights I have are when 10 years later kids write a letter back to me and say they’re sorry for the way they acted in high school and how I put up with them.
“I’ve been quite fortunate; I’ve coached great kids and part of it is the growing up part. High school kids
make mistakes. When they have their own kids, they see. I start to chuckle about it because that’s what coaching is about.”
Asked how much longer he plans to coach Phelps said: “Every year the freshmen come in and say, ‘You’re going to stay three more years, right coach, until I graduate?’, ‘Coach you’re going to stay three more years?’ Eventually, I’m going to have to give it up.
“Connecticut may force my hand because in 2021 they’re supposed to be moving boys golf to the fall. If they
do that, I’m going to have to make up my mind. Being close to retirement, I’m not sure whether I give them both up and move on. I don’t know if I
could do that. I’m not looking forward to that decision.”
Throughout his career, Phelps has always focused on his players and their development as athletes and as people.
“The object is to help kids grow in a bunch of different ways,” Phelps said. “And it’s certainly not any more about the winning and losing. I love to win and I’m looking forward to push- ing toward a state championship this year. I have a great team. But circum- stances change. My best player was out last year, and we lost in the quar- terfinals in the last five minutes. You can’t predict that stuff.
“But when you see the kids grow and they come back and they’re coaching their kids, they’re coaching high school teams, after 38 years I’ve seen a lot of those kids come back and a lot of those kids’ kids playing. That’s what I love about coaching.”
  CONNECTICUT COACH • ISSUE 1 – 2019-2020 • PAGE 13

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