Chris Coderre, Woodstock Academy Athletic Director

This week’s coaches corner we talk to Chris Coderre, the Athletic Director of Woodstock

Academy.  Chris recently completed running the ECC Boys Basketball Tournament and

it was a huge success for the league. During my time on the Advisory Board as an

AD in the ECC, Chris was one of the many people I enjoyed working with so much.  He

is a true professional and such a great asset to not only Woodstock Academy, but to

the Eastern Connecticut Conference.

Bill Buscetto:  How long have you been the AD at Woodstock?

Chris Coderre:   This is my fourth year at the Woodstock.  Previous to this I was the Athletic Director at

Putnam High School for six years.

BB: What made you want to become a high school coach/Athletic Director?

CC: I have always been a sports crazy person and my four years of playing football, basketball, and

baseball while I was in high school were the greatest times of my life.  I want to give today’s student-

athletes that same type of experience that I had in high school.  Working as an athletic director is a great

way for me to give back to today’s kids and remain involved in sports.

BB:  During your coaching days, how would you describe your coaching style?

CC: I coached both football and basketball at Putnam High School, as well as a short stint as the interim

baseball coach.  I would describe my coaching style as a teaching coaching style.  I am very much a

teacher at heart and when I coached I was always constantly trying to get my athletes to learn the finer

points of the game.  I wanted them to know why we were doing the things that we were doing, not just

showing what to do without an explanation.  I also liked to teach my athletes about the history of the

game itself and why things have evolved in each sport the way that they have.  I like them to know about

the players who have come before them, including the pros but also local guys that went to their school

and what they meant to the program.

BB:  How did being a coach prepare you for being a successful AD?

CC: Being a coach prepared me to be an AD because I got to sit in on some ECC league meetings to see

how the bylaws were done and how that helped to run the league in a very orderly and successful

manner and how that fit in to the bigger picture, not just for that particular sport.  I remember as an

assistant coach sitting in on meetings run by guys like Gary Makowicki from NFA and thinking what a

great job they do and how someday I wanted to follow in their footsteps and have an influence on how

the league is run.

BB:  You recently ran the ECC boys basketball tournament and did a great job.  Give people an insight on

what goes into preparing and running a tournament like that.

CC: Thanks for the compliment.  It is probably more of an undertaking than most people realize but its

something that I really enjoy doing, whether it’s the boys’ basketball tournament, which is probably our

highest profile tournament, or the boys’ and girls’ soccer tournaments and the boys’ tennis

tournament.  A lot of people don’t realize that running these tournaments is something that each AD has

as a responsibility on top of their regular duties at their schools, but that’s the only way these things get

done.  The biggest thing is coordinating with the host schools, which in this case was St. Bernard and

New London.  The key is to be organized and prepared early.  Constant

communication is needed between all constituents involved: coaches, AD’s, host schools, media,

officials, staff, etc.  Then being there on the day of the tournament to adjust to any curveball that is

thrown your way, which is usually quite often.  Each year running a tournament is a learning experience

and you hope to keep improving on it every year.

BB: What is your most difficult part of being an AD?

CC: The most difficult part of being an AD is dealing with the parents who think that their child is getting

treated wrong because they don’t play enough, are not starting, weren’t named captain, etc.  It’s not an

easy thing to have to gently explain to someone that their child is not as good as other kids on the team

or as good as the parent thinks they are.  You just stay professional with them and do your best to get

them to understand why the coach has made the decisions they have made.  It’s also hard to see your

coaches who you know bust their tails coaching only to be chastised in the court of public opinion,

usually by these same parents, when those people don’t know the half of what goes into coaching at the

high school level.

BB: What was the funniest moment of your career?

CC: Probably the funniest moment of my career was during a scrimmage watching one of our football

players at Putnam, when told that on the next play he had to block #72 no matter what, run to the

sideline, where #72 went after being removed from the game and start blocking him on the sideline.  I

guess we always say that kids need to listen better so in this case he did exactly what we asked him to do.

Also, I loved watching Mike DiMauro from the New London Day trying to squeeze into Putnam’s famous

(infamous) Z Crew for a game so he could write an article about them.  Some of the seats in that section

are prime property and the students didn’t want to give it up to him.  He managed to squeeze in and I

think he had himself a blast!

BB: What was the most embarrassing moment of your career?

CC: When I was coaching basketball at Putnam I left an ECC tournament as we were heading into the 4th

quarter of a game against Ledyard up by nine points to go scout our next possible opponent at another

site.  Of course as I’m standing for the National Anthem I get a call from another one of our coaches

telling me we ended up losing so I can come home.  I immediately leave and speed home up I-395.  Of

course at this point you know that I get pulled over for speeding.  When the police officer asks me why I

was going so fast I’m honest with him and tell him that I am angry that my team that I coach just lost a

game that we were leading by 9.  He asks who I coached and who we were playing and I told him Putnam

and Ledyard.  As fate would have it he had a relative that played for Ledyard so he must have been

happy and let me go with just a verbal warning.

BB: Give me a favorite or top moment of your coaching career.

CC: The top moment of my coaching career was in the 2006 CIAC Boys’ Basketball Tournament when I

was at Putnam.  We were in the semifinals and were down by 16 going into the fourth quarter to

Northwestern Regional.  Bottom line is we made a furious comeback and tied the game at the buzzer to

send it into overtime.  In overtime we fell down by five but once again came back to win the game on

two free throws with 2 seconds left.  We were playing at Manchester HS and the place was packed and it

was just a great atmosphere.  It was by far the best game I have been involved in as a player, coach, or

AD.

BB:  What was the worst or most painful moment of your coaching career?

CC: The most painful moment was just nights later in the state finals.  We were playing against Plainville

and it was a back and forth game all night.  With about three minutes left in the game we found ourselves

up by 5.  We didn’t score another point the rest of the game and ended up losing by three.  It was

devastating to see how disappointed the kids were.  We went from such a high a few nights earlier to

such a bitter feeling.  We just told the kids that it will sting now and for quite some time but that in time

they will look back at the entire experience and remember it as a great time in their lives.  I still see

many of those kids today and they all still talk about it like it happened yesterday.

BB: What is something nobody knows about you, in regards to your playing career, coaching

background or AD position?

CC: My junior year at Putnam High School was the first year that Connecticut instituted the three point

shot in basketball.  During our first game of the season against Killingly I hit what turned out to be the

first three pointer in Putnam High School history.  I guess that’s one of those records that nobody will

ever be able to break, unless of course they ever institute a four point shot.  Bad news is we got blown

out in the game.

BB: What is a favorite story you like to tell people about a former team, coach, or player?

CC: My favorite team I played on was my sophomore season in basketball at Putnam High School.  I

didn’t play much that year but had a blast waving the towel like ML Carr down in pine city.  The team

went 27-1 led by all-staters Jim Crabtree and Kyle Leeman.  We won the Class S championship that year

and it was a great ride to be part of.

Probably another one of my favorite stories doesn’t even involve me as a player.  When I was in 8th

grade I went to the QVC finals at Killingly High School to watch Plainfield against Windham Tech in what

ended up being one of the greatest games I’ve seen because of the individual performances that I saw

that night.  Plainfield won a great game that night led by their senior point guard Jan Koivisto who I

believe scored 46 points.  And he needed every single one of those points because Windham Tech’s

senior shooting guard Larry Slyman scored 56 that night on some of the most incredible shooting I’ve

ever seen.  It’s just one of those games that get etched in your memory that I’ll never forget.  It was

definitely one for the ages.

BB: Give me one story about officials, good, bad or ugly.

CC: Clipper Christmas Classic in the mid 90’s in the championship game between Putnam and Killingly.

Regulation ends with a half court shot by a Killingly player to tie it and send it to overtime.  It was a

highly disputed call as no one could tell if the ball hit the ceiling first or not.  The refs conferred for quite

a while before making the decision that it did not hit the ceiling.  I’ve watched the film many times since

and still can’t tell one way or another.  Although we were very disappointed, I think all in all with it

being such a tough decision the refs did a good job with the situation.  We ended up losing the game in

double overtime.

BB: Do you have any wacky parent stories?

CC: Yes, too many for that matter, and not sure if I can say any of them in this forum.

BB: The best part about my job is…

CC: Helping to make memories of high school sports for today’s athletes.  I know it was important to me

and as you can see I still remember so many great things from my high school career that I hope I can

pass some of that along to today’s student-athletes.

 

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