HARTFORD—The University of Hartford Department of Athletics has signed Tom Poitras to a contract extension that will keep him as head coach of the Hawks’ men’s soccer team through the 2021 season, Hawks director of athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie announced on Thursday, April 12.
“We are thrilled that Tom Poitras will continue to lead our men’s soccer program,” said Gillespie in a press release. “I believe in Tom, his staff, and the culture they have established at Hartford.”
In his seven years at the helm, Poitras has led the Hawks to 58 wins, which are second-most in the program’s 34-year Division I history, trailing only Jim Evans (108), and third-most in 61 seasons of men’s soccer at Hartford. In addition, Hartford has made four trips to the America East Championship game under Poitras.
“I am honored to sign an extension to continue developing our soccer program into a championship program,” said Poitras in a press release. “The current group of players are well on their way to reaching our goals and are continuing to strive for excellence, both on and off the field. This extension is a sign of the quality of people that have come through our program and will continue to join us in our quest for championships.”
Hartford’s players have flourished under Poitras, as five players were named America East All-Conference this past season. Senior Andre Morrison highlighted the honorees by earning First Team All-Conference laurels. During his career, Poitras has combined for 30 All-Conference picks at Hartford, including nine First Team, eight Second Team, and 13 All-Rookie Team selections.
“Very few programs have the level of discipline, accountability, and leadership that Tom has created in this program,” said Gillespie in a press release. “Those traits have led to four America East Championship game appearances, MLS draft selections, and multiple academic individual and team awards. Tom is a total team player in our broad-based intercollegiate athletics department.”
A pair of Major League Soccer (MLS) draft picks in the past five years also highlight Poitras’ career. This past January, Morrison, a defender, was drafted by Toronto FC as the 69th pick in the league’s SuperDraft. In 2013, defender Damion Lowe became the first Hawk in 17 years to get drafted by a MLS squad when he was picked eighth overall by the Seattle Sounders.
Poitras’ success has also translated from the pitch into the classroom, where Hartford has thrived academically. Since his arrival, 20 student-athletes have been named to the America East All-Academic Team, including three (Mike Barry, Fredrik Ekman, Jacob Slomski) this past season. Slomski went on to earn CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 2017, making him the second Hawk in as many years to bring home the award.
In addition, 15 players received America East Academic Honor Roll distinction (3.0 or higher GPA) in February, with eight earning Commissioner’s Honor Roll recognition for achieving a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher.
“I would like to thank our Director of Athletics Mary Ellen Gillespie and Deputy Athletics Director Holly Strauss-O’Brien for the confidence they have bestowed upon me and my coaching staff to continue to lead our soccer program in the future,” said Poitras in a press release. “We are excited for the direction of our soccer program and the athletic department under their leadership, and for the direction of the University of Hartford under President Gregory Woodward.”
A native of Southington, Poitras has more than 24 years of collegiate head coaching experience. He became the ninth head coach in the program’s history in April of 2011. His .597 career winning percentage is the 43rd-best among active Division I coaches, while his 249 victories rank him 38th among that group.
Poitras came to Hartford after spending seven seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Prior to his time with the Phoenix, Poitras enjoyed successful stints at Southern New Hampshire University and the University of New Haven.
The former Blue Knight was inducted into the Southington Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. As a youth, he played two varsity seasons with St. Paul Catholic High School before ending his high school career with two seasons at Southington High School.
He scored 17 goals for the Knights in two seasons, earning all-conference honors both years and all-state honors in 1986. He went on to play for four years at Southern Connecticut State University, where he was a member of the 1987 NCAA tournament national champion team.
In 2017, he was named to the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame.
Click here for his Southington Sports Hall of Fame profile: Tom Poitras (2011 Athlete)