PLAINVILLE - As a member of numerous coaching staffs in past All-Star Game events, Plainville head football coach Tim Shea always enjoyed the thought of taking on a head coaching role for the annual high school senior All-Star Game that takes place every summer.
After last year’s game, Hartford Public head coach and Executive Board member of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Harry Bellucci approached Shea and asked if he was ready to run the sideline for the 2019 game, set for June 29 in New Britain.
“I told [Harry] it would be an honor and a privilege to be a head coach.” Shea said of his conversation with Bellucci last summer.
Earlier this week, Bellucci phoned Shea with an official offer to be one of the head coaches for this year’s All-Star Game, which Shea immediately accepted.
Now, Shea will get to experience it for the first time in the same role he has with the Blue Devils as the game goes back to once again being the CT Super 100, played amongst Connecticut players after the Governor’s Cup - played between Connecticut and Rhode Island - was briefly revived and played last season.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of it each year, and to have been a part of some very good coaching staffs and teams that gave me the opportunity to be in this position,” Shea said.
Shea, who played in a similar game (back when it was called the Nutmeg Bowl) prior to his graduation from Naugatuck High School in 1992, understands the importance of the game to the seniors who will participate in it.
“I like this game,” Shea said. “It’s a chance for the outgoing seniors to have one more chance to play with their friends and other rivals in other leagues. It’s a good way to end your high school career.”
Knowing it’s the last time many of the participating athletes to play together, Shea plans to put in his own work and preparation to ensure his players get his best, even if the atmosphere of an All-Star Game doesn’t carry the same intensity as a regular season or tournament game.
The teams will have roughly 10 days of practice before the game kicks off, which Shea plans on making the most of.
“Don’t be fooled, the kids do take it seriously,” Shea said. “The intensity comes out, while also building relationships with people. It’s a game, it’s a sporting event, but it’s football. That’s why the game itself is great.”
Shea and the rest of the head coaches in the state will send in nominations from their respective teams to the CT Head Coaches Association, who will then host a combine for the nominated athletes on March 24 in New Haven. After taking the athletes through a variety of drills, Shea will join Brian Mazzone of Stafford/Somers/East Windsor co-op (his opposing head coach this year) to put the names of every athlete on a board and begin to draft teams.
Shea plans to nominate a couple of interested players from his Plainville squad and looks forward to the opportunity of coaching them on a new stage, but also would enjoy the experience of coaching against them if that’s how the draft unfolds.
“When I coached at Woodland, I had a couple of kids play in the game and I got to coach against them some years,” Shea said. “That was fun in its own right.”
Regardless of the roster he inherits, Shea has June 29 circled on his calendar as a day he considered to be years in the making since he roamed the sidelines of the All-Star Game as an assistant coach.
“I’m glad to be a part of this,” Shea said. “It’s something I know I’ll enjoy doing.”