WALLINGFORD — C.J. Monroe said he was born to be a football coach.
His father, Joe Monroe, was head coach at Wolcott High School for 20 years. C.J. followed in his father’s footsteps, first as an assistant at Platt, then for five years at Newington.
He’s now earned his first head coaching job — at Lyman Hall. Monroe, 28, got the call from Lyman Hall Athletic Director Steve Baker on Friday night.
Monroe, an associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Newington, takes over for Bill Weyrauch, who stepped down after five years and a 17-23 record at the LH helm.
Monroe said he’s ready to run a program.
“It’s something I've wanted since I was very young," Monroe said Friday night. “My father was a football coach, and while other kids were watching cartoons, I was dissecting film with my dad, and football has always been a big aspect of my life.
“I've learned a lot in my two years at Platt under Jason Bruenn and at Newington under Justin Pace. I learned about how to handle things on and off the field,” Monroe continued. “At this point of my career, I wanted a new challenge. With Lyman Hall’s facilities and being in the best conference in the state, they checked all of boxes. I'm happy to be the head coach at Lyman Hall.”
Monroe grew up in Wolcott and now lives in Southington. He was an All-State lineman at Wolcott as well as an All-State baseball player.
Following high school, Monroe went to Springfield College. He’s been a physical eduation teacher at Martin Kellogg Middle School in Newington for the last seven years.
His coaching career also started seven years ago, first at Platt under Bruenn for two seasons. Then Pace, his former high school teammate, offered Monroe a spot on his staff at Newington. That's where he spent the next five years.
“My first year in Newington, I was a position coach and, my second year, I was associate head coach and offensive coordinator, and the offense has put up some impressive numbers the last two years," Monroe said. “In 2019, we put up 30.3 points per game and this year we scored 38.3 a game.”
Monroe said his philosophy is showing his players that he cares for them.
“I'm going to be firm with my expectations for them and to embrace the process that gets us to where we want to be," Monroe said. “We have to enjoy the offseason more than the in-season, enjoy the process to achieve results. The players will know that I’m there for them and there to challenge us to get better.”
Baker said Lyman Hall’s football search committee had a number of strong candidates to choose from to fill the vacancy that opened up when Weyrauch stepped down.
“We are really fired up," Baker said. “C.J. is going to be a great addition to our coaching staff here at Lyman Hall. He’s the type of coach the kids are going to love.
“You can feel his energy. When we did our interviews, all of us in the community were ready to play for him. He had us ready to go. You can tell he will put his heart and everything into this program, and that’s what we were looking for.”
Monroe said he’s starting the process of putting in a staff. He can’t wait to get started.
“In my interview with the committee, I could sense the excitement about the Lyman Hall football program," Monroe said. “They want to see the team succeed and it means a lot to me that they care so much. We had discussions about our visions for the program and they have a lot of passion to make the program even better. It's a great fit and I can't wait to get started.”
Baker added that Monroe has already said he wants to support Lyman Hall Athletics and may attend a boys basketball game at the school as soon as Monday.
“We are in great hands," Baker added.