By BRIAN JENNINGS
Greg Ferry paced back and forth in front of the phone, waiting for the call, and thinking about the interview and the possibilities that lay before him.
“I think I wore out a good, 30-foot path in my house,” he said with a chuckle. “I was trying not to think about it and was giving myself every type of motivational talk…I kept thinking that I’m going to be the Southington athletic director.”
When the call came through, his phone rang out with the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
“I saw the Southington phone number come up and I said to my wife, ‘Hon, this is it. My life could be changing for the better,’” said Ferry, the new athletic director for Southington schools. “I think I let out a scream of about a five on a scale of one to 10. That’s just who I am. I’m an emotional guy. I’m passionate, and I’m not going to hide from it.”
Ferry was selected, late on Thursday night, in a special meeting by the Board of Education. Now, the former Avon athletic director and long-time Cheshire High School counselor is replacing Eric Swallow. The position has been vacant since Swallow left in June after taking a position as the new athletic director of Norwich Free Academy.
“He is a young man that brings a lot of potential and excitement,” said Superintendent of Southington schools Tim Connellan. “I think that he’s going to be a wonderful athletic director. I predict that he is going to be the athletic director of the Southington public schools for the next 20 years and continue to build on the excellence that we have in programming. He’s going to have a huge impact on the students and all programs that we offer for students in that area.”
Ferry’s enthusiasm, vision, dedication, and sincerity are just some of the characteristics that stood out to Connellan and the board.
“He is incredibly well-organized and prepared,” said Connellan. “He comes from a much disciplined background, being a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy. He has served his country in active duty. I think he just brings all of those qualities to the table. That really comes across. He is very passionate about he does. He was so excited about this opportunity. and he feels that it’s such a great match for him and his family. We do, too.”
Ferry said that he was drawn to the position because of a number of important factors: the community, the town itself, the history of success on and off the field with it’s athletic programs, the quality of coaches, the leadership that is in place at the school, the chance to be close to where he grew up, and the opportunity to be close to his family.
“My background from playing, coaching experience, and leadership experience both in and out of the military is what really crafted my work skills,” he said.
Ferry is coming into a position that features a lot of recent success within the sports programs.
“I think the biggest thing when you go into a position like this is you can’t you go in thinking that you have to change all of this,” said Ferry. “I think the biggest thing is to be reflective. Take a hard, critical look a year into the position. Observe all the processes, look at all of the facilities, and then start developing the grand plan of how we’re going to get better.”
Ferry said that he really wants to focus on growing and sustaining excellence over a long period of time.
“It’s not like you’re coming into a place that has tons of issues,” said Ferry. “There are a lot of support and great coaches in place. There’s support in the community, and it’s very strong. How are we going to cultivate that and keep shooting to get better? If you get complacent, that’s when you start losing your edge. How are we going to keep that going? That’s what I’m looking at.”
Ferry’s other passions, besides sports, are wellness and fitness.
“I fell in love with lifting weights and conditioning, probably since I was in eighth grade,” he said. “That, I really get from my father.”
Ferry has walked the sports facilities at the high school and said that he wants to make the facilities the best that they can be, while also being safe for students and fiscally smart.
“We want to have our facilities be a model facility for the rest of the state to look at,” said Ferry. “That’s the grand vision and one that I think really needs to be looked at. How are we going to improve our fitness facility? Wellness is so important, not just for our student athletes, but all of our students. Right now, the physical space is there. How are we going to improve that and make it better?”
Ferry also has plans to bring booster clubs together in the town and possibly have an executive council, in which all the booster clubs can participate.
“Something that I would really like to do is be a part of the Southington Veterans Community,” he said. “I want to establish and develop the relationships that are in the town of Southington. I want to get our student athletes to understand and value the men and women that have served our country. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to do that when I was a little bit younger.”
Ferry was born and raised in Cheshire. Growing up, he played football and baseball and was a captain, all-conference starter, and two-time, Class L State Champion on the Cheshire High School football team. After graduating from Cheshire High School in 1994, Ferry attended the United States Coast Guard in New London where he was also a four-year letterman and starting fullback for the football team, which won back-to-back conference championships and had two NCAA playoff appearances.
“We had a great core group of players from all over the country,” he said. “We rallied together and all had our different roles. It was a selfless team and we all put the team ahead of us. To win at a military academy is just very special because you have so many time constraints and commitments, but we all really valued being around one another and working together. That was one of the best experiences that I could possibly remember. ”
Ferry graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in government in May of 1998, but stuck around to start a coaching career in football there from 2000 to 2003 as the assistant varsity coach. He also served as an admissions officer and taught Nautical Science and leadership course to Officer Candidates at the Coast Guard Academy’s Leadership and Development Center.
After the Coast Guard, he returned to Cheshire where he became the assistant varsity football coach at Cheshire High School from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2009 to 2012. During his time at Cheshire, he also was the assistant softball coach from 2007 to 2010. In addition, he served one year as an assistant varsity football coach at Sheehan High School and two years at Xavier High School in Middletown.
Before taking the position with Southington High School, Ferry served as the athletic director of Avon High School since July 2014. He coordinated 28 sports teams and hired nine coaches during his first year on the job. Before that, he served an administrative internship at Cheshire High School for a little over a year.
Ferry had been a school counselor at Cheshire from 2003 to 2014. His educational background includes a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut in Storrs (2004) and a sixth year professional diploma in education leadership from the University of Bridgeport (2010).