By KEVIN ROBERTS
Howie Hewitt has spent over four decades coaching Meriden student-athletes at Maloney High School, but life for the 66-year-old began in Southington.
Hewitt was born in Southington and lived here until he was about seven or eight years old. He was tied to Southington early in his life, and he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to come back as the new head girls basketball coach.
Hewitt was officially introduced as the new coach on May 9 in a press conference in the Southington High School library. The coach traded in the green and white of Maloney for a white dress shirt with a blue tie.
“My dad has passed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he rose from the dead if he ever heard that I got a job here coaching at Southington,” Hewitt said. “It would have made his life. I’m just looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity, it just seems like a great chance for me to try something different.”
Hewitt coached boys basketball for 43 years at Maloney—33 as the head coach—but he does have very recent experience coaching girls. Hewitt is the assistant softball coach for Scott Aresco at Maloney.
“He’s been very successful in what he does,” Hewitt said about Aresco. “The girls love him. They play like crazy for him. I’ve just watched him deal with situations that are presented to us and how he does it.”
Hewitt said he has talked to coaches who have transitioned between a boys sport such as football and a girls sport such as softball.
“What a great revelation it is to them and how they become better coaches in their mind, pushing the girls as opposed to their other sport,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt, who was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016, resigned his position as Maloney head basketball coach on May 6. He retired as a teacher at Maloney in 2013. Hewitt replaces Mike Forgione as Southington head coach. Forgione, who coached the Lady Knights for nine seasons, resigned in March after a difficult 5-15 campaign.
What did Southington see in Hewitt?
“His answers resonated with the core values of what we’re trying to do here. Our P.R.I.D.E. principles of having a positive attitude, controlling your response in all situations, leading with integrity, having determination to stay with your goals, and the pursuit of excellence,” athletic director Greg Ferry said. “As we all know, the race to excellence has no finish line. After interviewing some great candidates with a tremendous committee, Howie rose to the forefront, and we are so pumped to have him.”
Besides basketball, Hewitt coached baseball for 23 seasons at Maloney. He also wore many different hats between multiple stints as athletic director and assistant athletic director, along with serving as coach of golf and cross country. What will Hewitt bring to the table in his first go-around as a girls head coach?
“We can really bring those kids up, as players, and get them involved in what’s going on,” Hewitt said. “I want to bring that to the program, getting as many kids involved and helping them enjoy the game and competing.”
Hewitt met with the players before the press conference, and he said he liked what he heard from them.
“The interaction, I felt, was great,” Hewitt said. “Just kids who want to play and who want to compete. It’s a great opportunity, for me and for them, I hope.”
Hewitt said he sees a lot of potential with the Southington girls in the season to come.
“The tradition has been set. It’s not like I’m coming in to a bare cupboard,” Hewitt said. “The girls that were sitting in front of me, I know some of them personally, and I know some of the successes they’ve had in other sports. They’re good competitors, they’re good athletes, and except for last year, their records have been pretty good.”
After the press conference, Hewitt posed for photos with Ferry and Colleen Murphy, an assistant coach under Forgione who has been important in the transition to Hewitt, according to Ferry. Hewitt said he would need to see what he has before deciding on what style of play the Knights would have. There are some pieces already in place.
“I think they had some injuries last year, and some kids didn’t play that I’m sure added to the record being not what it usually was,” Hewitt said. “Being able to get those kids back and get some other kids involved in the program I think is going to be a big factor. There’s no reason why we can’t do really, really well.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com