By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
In nearly two decades of Woodland’s existence, no name has been more synonymous with athletic success than Kingsley.
It’s fitting, then, that the youngest of the three Kingsley brothers, Tanner Kingsley, has earned the distinction of being Woodland’s athlete of the decade.
Kingsley, who graduated in 2014, earned 11 varsity letters as three-year starting quarterback, a four-year starting guard, and a four-year starting outfielder and pitcher. He’s the only athlete in Woodland history to earn All-State honors in three team sports, and he earned five All-Naugatuck Valley League selections with two all-division honors.
Three All-State and five All-NVL awards are the same as his oldest brother, Shane, the No. 2-ranked athlete on our previous decade’s list. Tanner credits his competitive family background with brothers Shane and Cody — who was also a starting quarterback and multiple-year starting second baseman — and parents Mike and Lori for helping him prepare for his high school career.
“Watching them play for Woodland was awesome,” Tanner said. “They played on some great teams, and watching those teams win state championships was awesome. They were a huge part of my success at Woodland. Growing up, my whole life, they were always playing against me and never took it easy on me. I think that’s what made me the athlete I became in high school.”
Kingsley also credited the three head coaches he played under — football coach Tim Shea, basketball coach Tom Hunt, and his dad, the baseball coach — for his success at Woodland.
“The best thing about playing at Woodland was the people I was surrounded by,” Kingsley said. “I had great coaches and I played with great teammates who made me better. I owe a lot to them for the success I had.”
Kingsley’s success was undeniable. He quarterbacked the Hawks to the 2012 Class S semifinals and the 2013 Class S final while setting state records for single-game passing yards (615 vs. Seymour in 2012) and career passing touchdowns (113). He became the school’s all-time leading basketball scorer (1,312 points), and he’s among the top five in the baseball program’s history with 88 career hits.
Kingsley also helped lead Woodland through one of the most emotional periods in school history when George Pinho died suddenly in January 2013. Pinho’s youngest son, Jack, was Tanner’s best friend in high school.
“Jack and I played together since we were 10 years old,” Kingsley said. “His dad was always coaching me and we were really close. When he passed, it brought everyone closer.”
Among the inspirational games in the ensuing months were a 79-76 upset of then-undefeated Wilby, the No. 2-ranked basketball team in the state — “That was the best basketball we’ve ever played,” Kingsley said — and a 25-22 win over Naugatuck in the first George Pinho Trophy football game.
“Getting that home win over Naugatuck was one of my favorite wins in my career,” Kingsley said.
Kingsley went on to play quarterback at Central Connecticut State University and Anna Maria College. For those youngsters hoping to be this decade’s Tanner Kingsley, he’s got some simple advice.
“Have fun playing the game with your friends,” Kingsley said. “Every time you play the game, give it everything you’ve got. That’s one thing I did no matter the sport — I always gave it 100 percent. And even if you’re not the biggest kid — and I wasn’t — that doesn’t matter. You can still go out there and compete, and good things will happen.”