MERIDEN — Clint Tebbetts always has a positive message on the sideline and it helped propel a young Wilcox Tech boys soccer team into the postseason.
Tebbetts, 51, is a lifelong North Haven resident who coached on the travel circuit with West Haven, Amity and North Haven.
He stepped down from coaching a few years ago and had never coached on the high school level. But when he saw the Wilcox Tech job opening, he went for it.
“I figured I would give it one more shot,” Tebbetts said. “I didn’t think I would be picked because I have no high school experience. But what I said to them, resonated with them. I want a positive, family atmosphere.”
“It’s going great,” Tebbetts said late in the season. “We are having a lot of success. A lot of brand-new players have really come along. I can’t be happier to see them learn and adjust. If we talk about adjustments that need to be made at halftime, they make those adjustments.”
Tebbetts said he will never yell at his players.
“I have a really positive style of coaching,” he said. “I don’t yell at the kids. I’ve been doing it this way too long to do that. I know they appreciate the positive reinforcement (rather) than the nagging and the dogging that a lot of coaches scream at kids.
“Winning isn’t a goal, it’s a byproduct. That’s my motto,” Tebbetts added. “I would rather lose and play really well than win and play really crappy.”
It worked this season. The Indians didn’t have a senior on the roster and returned little to no experience after graduating 12 seniors over the last two seasons in a successful tenure under Tebbetts’ predecessor, Joe Testa.
“Most of these kids never saw the field,” Tebbetts said. “Now these kids are empowered and are in charge of their own destiny. They feel that this is their team now and not anyone else’s team. Having no seniors, we will have everyone back next year.”
The Wilcox boys compiled a record of 6-3-1 this fall and advanced to the conference finals.
“They deserve it,” Tebbetts said. “They’ve worked hard. We have about 20 players in the program and they’ve played a lot of soccer. In the beginning of the season, we front-ended a lot of training. I saw these guys playing in the summer as a spectator and I knew what I was getting into. I wanted to clean up their technique and play a prettier style of soccer. Our brand-new players have really come along.”