Carrigan school counselor, psychologist named coaches of the year
Carrigan school counselor, psychologist named coaches of the year
Posted on 07/09/2015
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WEST HAVEN, July 7, 2015 — West Haven High School’s Athletics Department capped off the year with a boatload of good news, with three coaches being named Coach of the Year for their respective sports just as their teams were winning or competing in conference tournaments.

Boys tennis Coach Jason Kirck, a history teacher at WHHS, now holds the title of SCC Division II Boys Tennis Coach of the Year and led his team to a victory this spring at the SCC Division II Championship for the first time in school history. Meanwhile, girls tennis Coach Kara Kaczynski, a school counselor at Carrigan Intermediate School, was honored as the SCC Division II Girls Tennis Coach of the Year just as her team was competing in the SCC tournament.

And boys lacrosse Coach Patrick Reed, who is a school psychologist at Carrigan, was recognized as the SCC Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year after his team finished with an 8-8 record and qualified for the CIAC tournament for the first time in 16 years.

“This recognition of three outstanding coaches was a great way to end the school year and spring sports season. They’re all very deserving, and it’s a privilege to work with them,” Athletic Director Jon Capone said. “These are programs that have flown under the radar at times at WHHS, but Jason, Kara and Pat have worked hard to expand their rosters and help these teams leave their mark at WHHS.”

Kirck has been coaching the boys tennis team for the past seven years and noted this year’s record of 14-6 was the best since he started. But momentum has been building over the past few years, with a 9-11 record for the spring 2014 season and enough wins to make it to the Class LL state tournament five out of the past six years.

“We’ve been in the SCC semi-finals for three straight years, so for us, winning the SCC championship was our ultimate goal this season, and we achieved that. For West Haven, that’s huge,” Kirck said. “It was complete joy. It really was a whole team accomplishment, especially since Shelton was the only D II team we lost to during the regular season, and that’s who we beat in the championship. Our team used that loss as motivation. It shows we got better, and it shows the spirit of our team.”

He says WHHS brothers John and James Delgado have helped the team become more competitive, with James being named the MVP of the SCC tournament, John being named to the New Haven Register all-area team, and both brothers being selected for the All-SCC Division II team. But all of the team’s players have contributed to the team’s success and to Kirck’s as well.

“It’s really all about the team,” he said of his Coach of the Year honor. “They did so well. We have really great kids on the team. It’s not about me, but the team. They did it.”

Kaczynski, who has been coaching girls tennis for 11 years, helped her team reach the SCC tournament for the first time this year and says her student-athletes focused on “mental toughness” and confidence. With 11 players in their senior year this season, Kaczynski felt the team would show a more competitive side.

“They’ve worked so hard and were really excited. All of the girls called themselves a family and were very supportive of each other. We talked a lot about sportsmanship and mental toughness, and that was huge. We beat some teams we’ve never beaten before,” she said.

She called her student-athletes intelligent and respectful and added, “I just feel so lucky to have worked with these girls, and it’s nice to have gotten Coach of the Year at the same time with Jason.”

Reed echoed Kirck’s and Kaczynski’s sentiments, saying his Coach of the Year award was a reflection of his lacrosse players.

“It’s an indication of a great group of kids who worked so well together as a team. This is the best year we’ve had. We had 14 seniors, and only three played all four years at WHHS. But I love that challenge because you can really see the growth, and a lot of refs at the end of the year come up to you and say they can’t believe how much the kids were able to learn since the beginning of the year,” Reed said.

This year, player Justin Tuschhoff was chosen to play in the Connecticut High School Lacrosse Coach Association All-Star Game, and player Ryan Pickering, a student at Sound School Regional Vocational Aquaculture Center who plays for his hometown team, was named as a 2015 Brine National High School All-America selection and chosen to represent Connecticut at the 2015 Brine National Lacrosse Classic in Virginia.

A youth program Reed started in town has helped with recruitment and talent development for the WHHS team. Many of this year’s seniors were some of the first participants in the West Haven Youth Lacrosse Program, according to Reed, who played lacrosse at WHHS when his brother was an assistant coach for the team.

“We’ve got a great bunch of kids. Even when things didn’t go their way, they kept a good attitude,” Reed said. “Everybody did the best job they could, and the high school is getting excited about the success the lacrosse team has seen over the past couple years.”