MERIDEN — Wilcox Tech has called on two recent graduates to fill head coaching vacancies for the fall season.
Derick Madrid and Karina Torres will be heading teams for the Wildcats — Madrid in boys soccer, Torres in volleyball.
Madrid, a 2015 graduate, played soccer at Wilcox for four years and then became an assistant coach in 2017, working first under his former coach, Joe Testa, and then under Clint Tebbetts, who recently left the Wildcats after three seasons to coach the Shelton girls.
Madrid also played baseball at Wilcox. On the soccer pitch, he was a striker and had a stint playing at Western Connecticut State before turning to coaching. He’s now a police officer in Southington.
“I’m very excited about taking over the program,” Madrid said this week. “I have a great relationship with a lot of the kids. I want to bring back our winning tradition. I want to bring an attractive type of soccer for our kids to play.”
Torres, a 2018 grad, initially applied to be the volleyball team’s assistant coach, but after a late departure by incumbent head coach Carl Olson, she slotted in at the top spot.
Torres is a health/physical education teacher at Wilcox. The 5-footer was a libero in her high school playing days and played outside hitter for her travel team, Thames Volleyball Academy.
She’s coached at Thames Volleyball Academy for the last five years.
“I’m very excited and nervous about this position,” Torres said. “I did it in travel, but high school is a little different. But I’m excited to be back at Wilcox and it’s going to be weird being on the other side of the court. I'm ready to work and, hopefully, make this program what it used to be.”
“It’s going to take hard work and dedication; it’s going to take some time,” she added. “The girls have to want it as much as I want it. They are ready to work.”
Torres said she wants her players to understand commitment. She wants them to commit to the team like they would to a job.
“You have to put in the work to see results,” Torres said. “They have to be in the gym and be ready to go. Also, as a teacher, I put academics first. They have to behave in school and be good overall student-athletes.”
Torres’ assistant coach will be 2022 Lewis Mills grad Brianna Stifel. Madrid’s assistants are in the final phase of interviews.
Madrid noted that he’s a firm, but player-friendly coach.
“I set the expectations at the start of the season and I hold my kids to those standards,” Madrid said. “I emphasize conditioning and a lot of touches on the ball. I’m a former player and I also see things though a player’s eyes.”
Madrid said he believes his team can start to turn things around after a couple of tough seasons. The Wildcats were 6-7-0 last season and 7-8-1 in 2021.
“I know it’s in these kids,” Madrid said. “They are familar with my coaching style at the JV program and, hopefully, it translates into the varsity level.”
Both teams open the season Friday, Sept. 8 on the road. Madrid’s Wildcats will be in Milford to face Platt Tech, while Torres and the volleyball team will be in Waterbury to take on Kaynor Tech.
“Coaching my first match is going to be a big thrill,” Torres said. “I’m going to be really excited; my emotions are going to be all over the place.
“I was here not that long ago. Coaching on that court will probably be one of the best feelings I’ve had.”