MERIDEN — One is a veteran coach already heading to a national Hall of Fame. The other is a rookie looking to launch a long career.
In either instance, Platt High School has its coaching vacancies filled for the upcoming 2021 seasons.
Bryan McCarty will take over as head baseball coach this spring. Martin Cheney will take up the reins of the boys soccer program in the fall.
Combined, they replace Tim Redican, the Platt math teacher who coached both sports before stepping down in November to spend more time with his family.
Both hires mark a natural succession. McCarty was Redican’s baseball assistant for the past two seasons, Cheney in soccer for the past four.
Both also come in with personal pedigree in their respective sports. McCarty played baseball at Platt during the glory days of the mid-to-late 1980s. Cheney played soccer at Seymour High School and club soccer at the University of Vermont.
Meriden knows McCarty. The native son has been coaching Platt wrestling for 29 seasons and was recently selected to be inducted into the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Meriden will get to know Cheney. The 30-year old, who lives in Plantsville and recently married former Southington girls lacrosse coach Jillian Pomposi, has been teaching Language Arts in the city school system since 2014, first at Platt and now at Washington Middle School.
“He really knows his skills and knows the game very well,” said Platt Athletic Director Rich Katz, who is looking for long-term stability in the soccer program and is confident he’ll get it with Cheney. “That’s a program, well, Timmy had it for 7-8 years, but prior to that we had a revolving door in there. It is somewhat stable, but we do need more kids and we do need to increase our skill level.”
While this is his first head coaching job, Cheney has put in considerable prep time as an assistant. Prior to joining Redican in the fall of 2016, he spent four years as an assistant for Joe Perrucci, his former coach at Seymour High, after graduating from the University of Vermont in 2012.
“I’m excited to get started,” Cheney said Wednesday. “I’ve been itching to take the role over, and I’ve learned a lot from the coaches I’ve worked with in the past.”
Cheney’s coaching philosophy is rooted in three core concepts: organization, intensity and heart.
“At the high school level, if we have those three, if we build on those in practice, build on our fundamentals, we’ll see success. we’ll see growth,” he said. “We want to see these guys over four years get better and become the players they need to be, they should be.”
Cheney noted he learned quite a bit from Redican, certain traits that he’ll look to maintain.
“His demeanor and rapport with his players was always excellent. He was their coach, but he was also a resource,” Cheney remarked. “That did a lot to build a trust within the team, both with the players and the coaching staff. Without that, a lot of the effort we put in is for naught, just like in the classroom. Your students have to trust you.”
Cheney also lauded Redican’s organizational skills.
“He built this program up from when he started. He’s grown the program, got more players involved, grew the community around it,” Cheney said. “My goal is to continue a lot of what he was doing and expand it.”
There could be a slightly different landscape awaiting Cheney and the Panthers when they return to the pitch. The Central Connecticut Conference is hoping to try out a pilot schedule in soccer in the fall of 2021. Teams will play each divisional opponent once, instead of twice, and cross over against teams of similar competitive level in the three other divisions.
“It should be more competitive,” Katz said of the plan, which has been approved by conference ADs and awaits OK from the CCC’s policy committee. “It will bring more parity to the league, I think.”
As for the spring, the CIAC has already announced it is the priority for the rest of the 2020-21 school year, given that spring athletes lost the entire 2020 season to the coronavirus pandemic. For McCarty, a 2021 baseball season would help atone for what appears to be a lost wrestling season (see related story).
On the diamond, McCarty inherits a team that is green. Platt graduated a large senior class in 2020 and the underclassmen lost a year of development.
Yet McCarty knows his players — not only as an assistant at Platt, but through his previous coaching stints in South Meriden Youth Baseball and Meriden’s Post 45 American Legion program.
“I’m very excited about it,” McCarty said. “In terms of being prepared, we’re looking at a team that has no one with varsity experience, so it’s going to be a challenge. But this is what we do as coaches. We’re going to coach ’em up and work on their skills and work on their abilities and, hopefully, get them at a point where they can not only compete at the varsity level, but win at the varsity level.
“I know some of the kids and I know their capabilities,” McCarty added. “I’ve been around the game quite a bit, so hopefully I can put it together.”
Both of McCarty’s sons are former Platt standouts now playing baseball in college. Devyn McCarty is a senior at Mitchell. Andrew McCarty is a freshman at Springfield.
When Bryan McCarty played at Platt, the Panthers were enjoying an extended baseball hey day. They were Class L state runners-up in 1984 and Class M state champions in 1986.
McCarty came through just after Pete Daniels (University of Hartford, ECSU) and Ernie Carr (Jacksonville). He played with future UConn Huskies Kyle Cooney and Billy Rich.
Carr (Dodgers, 1988), Cooney (Dodgers, 1994) and Rich (Tigers 1998) all wound up getting selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
Said McCarty, “Part of the vision is to bring the kids into knowing and understanding the tradition of Platt.”