NEW BRITAIN - The Central Connecticut softball team is led by a pair of Bristol natives, head coach Breanne Gleason and assistant coach Pat Holden.
“Coaching with somebody else from Bristol is great,” Holden said. “There’s so much knowledge and so much passion for baseball, softball and sports in general in Bristol. It’s nice to be able to coach with a fellow blue-collared Bristol-ite and go to work every day.”
Gleason is currently in her fifth season as head coach of CCSU after spending 2013 as an assistant. Holden is now in his third season as Gleason’s assistant.
“In Bristol I feel like the name Holden goes with softball,” Gleason said. “Charlie Hickey, our baseball coach, came into my office and said that he would be a good hire. So I looked into him a little bit and saw he had a great career here and was a great player. He coached at St. Paul and had been doing well, so we brought him in for an interview and we just clicked.”
The two have both had great success in their athletic careers.
Gleason was a standout pitcher at Bristol Central, an All-State performer in her junior and senior seasons of 2005-06, and went on to play at the University of New Haven.
She led the Chargers to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and was a part of the best run in program history during her senior year in 2010.
In her senior year bio for the team, it was stated that her “career ambition is to be a softball coach at the collegiate level.”
Gleason finished her career there as a two-time Third Team All-American and in 2010 was the second player ever to win both the Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year awards. She is now part of the University of New Haven Hall of Fame.
With a 11-18 record this season for the Blue Devils, Gleason holds a 104-98-1 career coaching record at the school. In 2015 Gleason led CCSU to just its second ever Northeast Conference Championship.
While this season is off to a slow start, Gleason picked up her 100th career win against Quinnipiac with an 11-1 victory.
“When I realized it was my 100th win, I couldn’t believe that I had been doing this long enough to have 100 wins,” Gleason said. “It made me feel a little bit old, to be honest. But there’s certain wins that stick out and that’s something that 100 does. We have our eyes on looking to win the next game though. It’s nice to talk about the past and when we won the NEC, but we’re thinking about this year and moving forward.”
She’ll look to build on the success of the program with Holden, who also has put together an impressive resume in his career playing and coaching.
Holden is familiar with the CCSU campus. He was part of the Blue Devils baseball teams that won NEC championships in 2002, 2003 and 2004. During his time spent with the program, CCSU had one of its best seasons with 41 wins in 2004.
While he experienced great team success at the collegiate level, Holden’s attention to detail and love for the game always stood out.
“At the collegiate level you have to become a student of the game very quickly in order to have a good career,” Holden said. “Because if you just rely on talent alone and throw your stuff out there every day, you’re not going to learn how best to win, prepare and things of that nature. The quicker you become a student of the game, the easier playing is going to be. Sometimes, for me, I realized I was a better student of the game than an actual player. That’s where my love for coaching came in. I think I’m a much better coach than I ever was a player and that comes from wanting to do more, always succeed and win.”
Holden’s coaching success began at St. Paul. He spent nine seasons at the helm of the Falcons’ baseball program and was in the dugout in 2015 when St. Paul put together its best season in history with 20 wins.
Though both are from Bristol and well immersed in the athletic community, Gleason and Holden had never met personally until Holden was on campus a few years back to interview for the job.
Now, the two will look to carve out stellar coaching careers with the Blue Devils.
“I think we’re just starting to hit our stride and play like the team that we see every day at practice,” Gleason said of this year’s Blue Devils. “If we can continue to keep getting better and play like the team I know we can be, I think we’ll do some good stuff.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or