By James Integlia
Branford football coach Mike Tracy resigned January 4th after four seasons as Head Coach, saying his main reason for stepping down was to spend more time with his family.
“He’s somebody who’s such a good head coach, he’s so thorough and did it by the book.” said Scott Jenkin BHS ’80, who has been on the Hornet’s football staff since 1991, “He held kids to a higher standard, and raised the bar on head coaches standards, he demanded the most from his players.”
Tracy, a 1993 graduate of Branford High, was a two-time all state linebacker at Branford and went on to play football at Southern Connecticut State University. He joined the BHS coaching staff in 1998, and was the defensive coordinator for the Hornet’s back to back state championship game appearances in 2004 and 2005, with Branford winning it all in ’05. He took over as head coach in 2009 when Gary Gravina resigned after 7 years as coach. Branford finished with a 7-3 record in his first season but fell to 2-8 in 2010 and 4-6 in 2011. The Hornet’s bounced back in 2012 with a 5-5 record that included wins over Trumbull, Lyman Hall, Law, Sheehan, and a 48-0 win over rival East Haven on Thanksgiving, the first shutout for Branford in four years.
The news of his resignation was unexpected to some of his players, though Tracy said he had been thinking about it for some time. “I was surprised when I heard the news.” said Anthony Jones, a senior All-SCC defensive lineman. “All of the players have spent a good amount of time with him every year, so it’s weird knowing he won’t be coaching next year”.
Although he is no longer the head coach, Tracy said he does not think he will ever fully be done with coaching. “I would love to stay involved as long as my schedule permits.” said Tracy.” If there’s time available I would definitely love to help out the program any way I can”. Tracy is currently running the team’s winter lifting program until a new coach is hired.
Tracy has also not ruled out a possible return to being a head coach one day. “Down the road absolutely, as my kids get older and I have more time on my hands, I’d love to get back into coaching.” said Tracy. “Certainly as a head coach there’s a lot of responsibilities that make it difficult when you have three young kids”.
His players were not shy about the impact he had on their lives and the lessons he taught them. “He made me into the player that I am, and made me an even better person.” said Andrew Klarman, a senior captain and All-State defensive lineman. “He taught me that family comes first,” said senior captain Justin Pelazza “And that no matter how bad things get, they can be a lot worse, and that good things are always to come. Players respected him and could see how much time and passion he put in”.
The younger players for Branford will have to adjust next year to a potential new system and style of coaching depending on who is hired. “It’ll be a lot different in how practices and game preps will go,” said junior and captain for next year Tyler McNeil. “His coaching and dedication to the team will be missed a lot, and it won’t be the same”.
“If I could say one thing to the next coach coming in it would be continue to build off the expectations that have been set, I think these guys[players] know what it takes to win and to push them to get the most out of them.” said Tracy. “Anybody that’s played here for the last 15 years understands that it’s a year round commitment and to be prepared to put that time aside because in order to meet the expectations of our league, it’s a year round job. Certainly the kids have the same expectations. Continue on that path and try to get the most out of the players”.