BEACON FALLS — In life there are no do-overs. But every once in a while those second chances arise to stop and smell the roses.
Chris Anderson is a humble man with a storied past involving the glory days of Woodland Hawks football. As head football coach for the Hawks from the program’s inception in 2001 to 2007, Anderson put the school on the map when his upstart Hawks won consecutive NVL and Class SS state championships in 2004 and 2005.
“While I was at Woodland I don’t think I took the time to enjoy what was going on,” Anderson said. “I was always looking ahead to the next obstacle, I never stopped to enjoy any of it and it was gone in a blur.”
Anderson, a 43-year-old physical education teacher at Woodland, is getting another chance to stop and smell the roses.
Anderson, a Beacon Falls resident, was appointed head coach of the football team last week. He is replacing Tim Phipps, who resigned to take the head coach job at the Hopkins School in New Haven.
“This time I want to enjoy a victory and step back and smell the roses, if you will. I’m a little older and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way,” Anderson said. “These kids may know about me but they don’t know me and I don’t know them. I need to earn their respect.”
Anderson’s journey began in the fall of 2001 when a make-shift program started to grow. He left six years later with a 49-21 record, two state titles and an appearance in the 2007 Class SS semifinals.
“What was accomplished here was a long time ago,” Anderson said. “They need to go out and make their own history. I don’t feel I deserve any special treatment for what was accomplished so many years ago. I’m honored to be back coaching at Woodland and I think this time around it’s going to be a great journey.”
Anderson left Woodland to spread his wings as a member of the University of New Haven coaching staff. The next step up the ladder took him from the quarterback coach to the offensive coordinator when the University of New Haven made the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2012.
Then Anderson resigned from UNH. He decided to enjoy life and get away from the grind. That step back allowed him to enjoy the sights and sounds of autumn like never before. But it didn’t take him that far from the game he loved as he was often seen on the Woodland sidelines cheering on the Hawks.
Anderson had the opportunity to step back on to the Woodland sidelines last year, but pulled out of the interviewing process. Phipps, who served as an assistant under Anderson, became just the third head coach at Woodland after Tim Shea stepped down to move on to Post University. The Hawks went 4-7 last season.
Now, Anderson has come full circle.
The Hawks return All-NVL running back Sean McAllen and All-NVL safety Coby Vaccarelli. But, according to Anderson, everyone is going to be evaluated, including the coach.
“Right now I’m retaining all of the current coaching staff,” Anderson said. “But everything is going to be evaluated including my performance, as well.”
Anderson said his time coaching college gave him more knowledge of the game. But as he returns for his second stint at Woodland, the coach wants to focus more on the game of life.
“Being at the college level I learned a lot more detail about the X’s and O’s of the game. But I plan on focusing myself to become a better administrator this time around,” Anderson said. “I want to focus more on the success of the student-athletes. It’s not that we are not going to emphasis winning, it’s going to be more about winning the game of life.”