BEACON FALLS — Tim Shea, who resigned earlier this month as Woodland’s head football coach, opened up last week about his decision to leave the program with which he has spent the last dozen years.
“The decision wasn’t easy,” Shea said. “It wasn’t any one thing, but it was a combination of a lot of things. It’s a grind. It’s a 12-month-a-year job, and on top of what else I do in the region, it’s a lot.”
Shea will remain as the head coach for the boys indoor and outdoor track programs and is still a security guard at the high school.
Over the past few years, Shea has married and moved to Plainville. The distance of his daily commute combined with the long days and desire to spend more time at home all factored into his decision to resign.
“You read about family time and coaches, and them having to take a step back to make more time, I never thought it would be me,” Shea said. “But that’s where I am. Hopefully at some point my wife and I are going to have kids, and I want to be around. Being that far, I would probably miss a lot of things.”
Shea recently had opportunities to take jobs at Newington High and earned the boys outdoor track position at that school, briefly leaving his position at Woodland. But he soon reversed his decision when an interview for Newington’s football job didn’t come through.
Shea said he’s not yet ready to announce what his new opportunity will be, but he’ll stay in football after enjoying his first summer off in almost 20 years.
“I’m not leaving the game,” Shea said. “Football has been a huge part of my life, and I think I’ve only had one summer off since fourth or fifth grade.”
A Naugatuck native, Shea starred for the Greyhounds under Craig Peters in the early 1990s. He attended Milford Academy and the University of Rhode Island before starting his coaching career, which took him from Milford Academy to Naugatuck to Foran to Woodland.
The reality of his resignation as Woodland’s second football coach set in after he told his coaching staff about his decision.
“That was very difficult,” Shea said. “I got up and left and told them they needed to get ready for spring practice. When I turned the corner and walked down the hallway, it hit me.”
Shea is confident, with the coaching staff in place and a solid group of returning players, that he leaves the Woodland program at a good point in its history. He led the Hawks to the Class S state final in 2013 and reached the state playoffs in three of his last four years.
“I think the program is in good shape,” Shea said. “We have three great coordinators in place, a group of young coaches and a lot of players returning. The future is going to be fine, so I thought this was the right time to go. They’ll be fine without me. The program is a lot bigger than one person, and it will march no matter who’s at the helm.”
Shea said his biggest learning experience came in 2008, his first season after taking over for Chris Anderson. The Hawks went 4-7 that year, their only losing record as a member of the Naugatuck Valley League.
“I found out a lot about myself as a head coach,” Shea said. “We were at a certain point when things were difficult and a lot of teams were beating us for the first time, and it was tough for a lot of people to take. Through a lot of trial and error that year, it taught me a lot about myself and we moved forward.”
Shea’s teams over his last five seasons all posted winning records. In rivalry games against Naugatuck and Seymour, Shea’s head coaching record was 11-1.
“I always preached to the kids that the Naugatuck and Seymour games — everybody in our region has ties to those two towns, so I tried to make those games special,” Shea said. “Over the last six years, those weeks have been special.”
Shea submitted his formal resignation letter last Friday and the Woodland athletic department posted the position within Region 16 on Monday. There is no timetable currently in place for hiring a new coach, but associate head coach Tim Phipps is acting as head coach and said the Hawks will still conduct spring practice from June 2-13.