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O’Donnell to be honored as CHSCA coach of the year in cross country

Canton boys and girls cross country coach Tim O’Donnell will be honored as the Connecticut High School Coaches Association’s cross country coach of the year.

CANTON – Canton’s Tim O’Donnell will be among 23 coaches who will honored as an Outstanding Coaching of the Year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) at its 53rd annual recognition dinner on Thursday, May 11, at the Aqua Turf in Southington.

O’Donnell, who has coached cross country, indoor track and outdoor track and field at Canton, was named outstanding coach of the year in cross country.

Tickets for the event are $46 and may be purchased in advance only by contacting John Fontana at 860-628-4122.

O’Donnell has coached Canton for 15 of the last 16 years, leading the Warriors to NCCC championships in 2009 and 2010 – the first league titles in school history for the boys cross country team – and a Class SS championship in 2010.

Since 2008, the Canton boys have finished either first or second in Class SS six times. In 2009, the Warriors were second in Class SS, fourth at the State Open and finished 13th in New England.

He has led the girls cross country program for nine out of the last 13 years. The Warriors have been finished second twice in the NCCC (2015, 2016) and took third in Class S in 2008 and in Class SS in 2015 and 2016.

O’Donnell, a Social Studies teacher at Canton High, has also been coaching indoor track and outdoor track at Canton.

Canton High cross country coach Tim O’Donnell

He has been the outdoor track and field coach for boys and girls since 2012. The boys team has yet to lose a dual meet under O’Donnell and have won five straight NCCC championships. The Warriors won the Class S title in 2013 and were second in three other seasons. The girls team won a school record 11 meets a year ago and finished eighth in Class S – their best-ever performance.

O’Donnell has coached the boys indoor track team for seven of the team’s nine campaigns, including the last five seasons. Under O’Donnell, the boys won a NCCC title in 2010 and have finished second in the league five times.

O’Donnell has coached the girls indoor track team for eight of the team’s 11 seasons, including the past five seasons. The Canton girls won their first-ever NCCC title in February.

Prior to joining the Canton program, O’Donnell spent six years as an assistant coach with the Simsbury High boys and girls track team (distance events). He was a head coach for the Shepaug Valley and E.O. Smith boys track programs. He has also been an assistant coach for Avon High, Atlee High (Virginia), Lafayette High (Virginia) and the College of William and Mary in distance events.

O’Donnell graduated from Simsbury, where he competed in track and field and cross country. In college, he competed at Arizona State in cross country and track and field before transferring to the College of William and Mary where he took up coaching high school track and field, football and cross country.

O’Donnell is the sixth Canton High coach to receive a CHSCA Outstanding Coach of the Year award. Previous winners from Canton were Bill Phelps (boys soccer, 2008); Nancy Grace (field hockey, 1992); Jim Ross (boys tennis, 1990); Heidi Zacchara (girls tennis 1988) and Larry Dubuc (boys soccer, 1973).

O’Donnell and his wife, Heidi, live in Canton and have two sons, Aidan and Liam. Several other awards will be presented at the Outstanding Coaches recognition dinner.

David Schulz of Fairfield Ludlowe will be recognized as Athletic Director of the Year;  Sal Follo will receive the Thomas Monahan CHSCA Honor Award; Dr. Martin Semmel will be awarded the Joseph J. Fontana Distinguished Service Award; and Jim Curtis and Robert Fritz of Diamond Sports will receive the Joseph Calvanese Sponsorship Award.

The coaches to be honored:

Phil Orbe, baseball, Montville; Bob Healy, boys basketball, Manchester; Tim O’Donnell, boys cross country, Canton; Mike Kohs, boys golf, Xavier; Mark Landers, boys soccer, Glastonbury; Ralph DiSaia, boys tennis, Waterford; Tim Egan, boys track, Montville.

 Laurie LaRusso, boys volleyball, Darien; Sherry Cosmos, cheerleading, Watertown; Eileen Wildermann, field hockey, Cheshire; Jim Buonocore, football, Ledyard; Jackie DiNardo, girls basketball, Danbury; Phil Schneider, girls lacrosse, East Lyme; Tom Cunningham, girls soccer, Fairfield Warde; John McClure, girls swimming, Hall.

Chris Marra, girls tennis, Guilford; William Vanderrest, girls track, Coventry; Tom Czaplinski, girls volleyball, Newtown; Gary Chadwick, gymnastics, Wilton; Ralph Shaw, ice hockey, North Branford; Peter Capezzone, indoor track, Old Saybrook; Tom Verrengia, softball, Conard; Joe Prignano, unified sports, Rockville.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years.

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