By BRIAN JENNINGS
University of Hartford head men’s soccer coach Tom Poitras was recently selected as a member of the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame’s 2017 induction class.
Poitras currently holds a career coaching record of 244-148-58 (.607) and is coming off a strong 2016 campaign with the Hawks, who reached the America East Conference Championship for the fourth time since he took over the program in 2011. The No. 5 Hartford knocked off No. 4 New Hampshire and top-seeded Stony Brook, before falling to No. 2 Albany in the title game.
Poitras’ tenure at Hartford signified a turnaround for the Hawks program. Before his arrival, the team had put together just one eight-win season in the six years before Poitras took over. But in four of the last six years, the team has won at least eight games.
His .534 winning percentage (53-45-19) with the Hawks ranks at the top among coaches who have coached more than two seasons at Hartford during the Division I era.
“Very clearly, his resume speaks to excellence and enormous success wherever he’s been,” former Hawks Athletic Director Patricia H. Meiser said in an interview with the Observer back in 2011 when Poitras was inducted into the Southington Sports Hall of Fame. “He’s a name that is very well-known throughout the Big 10. He’s been a finalist at major institutions, and he is very much a part of the Connecticut fabric. We feel very lucky to have him in our school.”
During his time at Hartford, Poitras worked as a scout for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. He also led the coaches mentoring program at Oakwood Soccer Club in the U.S. Development Academy.
A native of Southington, Poitras played high school soccer for St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol from 1983 to 1984 and Southington High School from 1985 to 1986. He received all-state and all-conference honors, finishing with 10 goals in 1985 and 17 goals in 1986 as a midfielder.
“He wasn’t my fastest player. I don’t even know if you can say that he was my most skilled player, but man could he read the game,” former Blue Knight coach Dan Murawski said in an interview with the Observer back in 2011. “He knew where to be at the right time, defensively and offensively. He knew when to pass. He was just absolutely awesome.”
Poitras played collegiately at Southern Connecticut State University. He was a four-year starter and helped lead the Owls to the Division II national championship in 1987.
He started his coaching career at the University of New Haven, earning New England Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in 1996. He compiled a 153-71-34 (.659) record during the next 13 seasons at Southern New Hampshire and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.
He led SNHU to the 2002 National Championship game and took the Phoenix of Green Bay Wisconsin to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 26 years.
“I’m not sure what I’d do if I wasn’t in college coaching or involved in soccer,” Poitras said in 2011. “I’m one of the fortunate ones that gets to go to work every day, and I enjoy every single day on the job. Not everyone can say that, so I treasure it.”
Poitras is one of six honorees being recognized by the Connecticut State Soccer Association for their “significant contributions to the soccer world.” The 2017 Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame class also includes Dave Clarke, Joe LaRosa, Chris Parsons, Catherine Spence and Wolfgang Woischke.
“I just want to be remembered for working hard and giving an honest effort every day,” said Poitras. “I try to do things the right way and try to do things that my father and mother taught me to do when I was young. I took the right path. I didn’t cut any corners, and I worked really hard for every place that I wanted to go.”
The 19th annual Hall of Fame dinner will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Radisson in Cromwell, Conn. The program will begin at 5:30 p.m. with dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. and the awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $50 per adult and $25 per child.
For more information on the Hall of Fame dinner, please visit CTSoccerHallOfFame.org or call Al Bell at 860-306-6822.
Poitras and his wife, Alison, live in Southington, with their two children, Ian and Ella.
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