Trinity Catholic basketball coach Mike Walsh retires
STAMFORD —Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford has announced that, after 39 years at the helm of its multi-champion varsity basketball team, veteran coach Mike Walsh has announced his decision to retire from full-time coaching effective the 2018/19 season. Mike will step down as head coach effective immediately, paving the way to enjoy spending more time with his eight grandchildren..
Mike will stay involved with the program and school and help oversee a transition to a new regime and head coach at Trinity for the first-time since 1979. “We are privileged to have someone of the caliber of Mike continue on in a role in our distinguished basketball program, and as a school and student ambassador,”, states Bob Robustelli, TCHS Athletic Director. “Coach Walsh will be providing vital support to Trinity and the new head coach in matters on and off the court, including devoting his time to helping the school’s basketball student-athletes achieve academic success to enable them to reach their future collegiate and other post-graduation goals”. Trinity’s new basketball coach will have extremely large sneakers to fill.
Since taking over the helm as head varsity basketball coach in 1979, Trinity teams under Coach Walsh have won six FCIAC championships, and seven Connecticut State basketball championships. This past year, Mike celebrated his 633rd varsity basketball win. He has mentored standout student-athletes such as Torey Thomas, Rashamel Jones, Dave McClure and Craig Austrie who have gone on to stellar college playing careers, international play, NBA coaching positions and NCAA National Championships.
John Smyth, one of the first Trinity student athletes to achieve great success on and off the court under Walsh, thinks that Mike’s impact on his players was more than in their competitive success. “When people think of Mike (Walsh), their thoughts focus on his winning record and numerous county and state championships”. Smyth added: “The real story is Mike’s interest in his players as persons- the lifelong relationship Mike has with his players, helping them develop into great young men and successful people throughout their lives.” Vito Montelli, longtime St. Joe’s Head Coach and competitor with Walsh remembers their competitiveness as a hallmark of a time gone by. “Our kids played hard against each other, the kind of competitiveness you want to see in sports.” states Montelli, the winningest basketball coach in Connecticut state history.”
He goes on to speak of the values he and Walsh shared: “We both coached in Catholic schools, so we had the opportunity to mold kids according to values, whether they were Catholic, and regardless of their family situations. Mike believed, as I do, that our jobs are to emphasize life skills over winning”. Montelli, who retired from coaching in 2012 after a fifty-year career, adds: “For the past couple years, Mike has felt it was time to retire. God lets you know when it’s the right time to move on.” Scott Smith, Principal of Trinity Catholic, reflected on Walsh’s continuing involvement at Trinity: “We are extremely fortunate that a man and mentor of the caliber of Coach Walsh will be staying involved in Trinity Basketball, and, more importantly in our students lives. He will certainly help us maintain the program, during our period of change and renewal, as one of the best in the state of Connecticut.” The change in life is certainly not lost on Walsh, often called one of the fiercest competitors in the FCIAC. “Trinity has been a large part of my life since I began my coaching career in 1973 as an Assistant Coach in basketball and baseball”, states Walsh. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and even more so of the many student-athletes who have graduated TCHS and gone on to be successful in life. I look forward to continuing helping that success, not only in the basketball program, but more importantly Trinity Catholic High School.”
“Perhaps I’ll see my five-year old grandson play basketball and baseball at Trinity one day,” Walsh adds somewhat reflectively: “That would be a blessing.”