Across multiple generations, in multiple sports, at both Conard and Hall, one coach has a more-than-50-year legacy.
By Paul Palmer
If you have ever been to a Hall football game you saw him. It could have been at a Conard tennis match where you saw him. It might have been at a Hall or Conard basketball game, or a hockey game. Maybe it was at a wrestling match at one of the high schools.
It doesn’t matter if you were at Conard or Hall, watching boys or girls, in the fall, winter, or spring – if there is a sport being played, Steve Blanchfield is there.
“I coach football and tennis, and I did basketball for years,” Blanchfield said. “They asked me if I’d keep the clock for boys basketball and I said sure. Then they asked me to do girls basketball and I said sure. Then they asked me if I’d do hockey and I said sure and then they asked me if I’d do wrestling and I said sure. I’m probably out 4 or 5 nights a week easily.”
For the last 50 years – since graduating from college – Blanchfield has been coaching and teaching in West Hartford as well as in Waterbury. “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful time,” he said.
As to why he does it, his answer is simple: “I love the kids.” And they love him right back.
You will often find Blanchfield talking and laughing with current and former students between periods of any game. It’s not unusual to see him fist-bumping players and telling them how well they played after a game, or even giving the new scorekeepers a quick lesson and a pep talk to ease their worries.
Upon graduating from college, Blanchfield began his teaching and coaching career at Sacred Heart Academy in Waterbury. It was there that he started and coached the school’s tennis team. He then followed in the footsteps of his father and came to West Hartford Public Schools.
“My father was a Hall athlete and when he got older he’d come to watch the kids practice every day,” Blanchfield said. “My father is the only person I ever knew who knew William Hall (yes THAT William Hall). There is a legacy there I want to keep going.”
In 1989, Blanchfield began working as a Hall assistant football coach and has now been coaching longer than any other coach in Hall history. He had been coaching tennis at Conard for 29 years but has had to finally give that role up.
“Reluctantly, one of the hardest decisions of my life was to give up tennis at Conard.” It’s not that Blanchfield doesn’t want to do it or doesn’t have the energy – it’s that his day job is cutting into the hours – he’s back at Hall now teaching five days a week.
In typical Steve Blanchfield fashion, he’s found another way to keep giving back. “It was going to be too hard to be at Hall all day long then travel over to Conard,” he said. “But I’m gonna help with tennis at Hall. I’m there all day so it just made sense.”
In early December, Blanchfield was honored by the Central Connecticut Association of Football Officials when he received the “Friend of Football Award” at their awards banquet.
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