Sixteen years ago, Steve Risser decided to change paths in his illustrious sports career when he took a job as an assistant coach for the Southington girls soccer team.
Fast forward to 2019, and Risser is working back home. After 10 years as athletic director in Windsor, Risser accepted the same role at Southington and officially began his tenure at the start of this month.
“There has been a tradition of excellence in Southington athletics for a long time,” Risser said. “I hope we can continue that excellence and tradition. We want to maintain and enhance that excellence.”
Risser also said as athletic director, he hopes the alumni will come back and continue to give their support.
“We want the alumni who contributed to all that excellence to feel comfortable coming back and continue to support our programs,” Risser said. “Our alumni is already celebrated but I hope we can continue that.”
Risser’s career started after graduate school, when he received a position at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md, as the assistant director of sport information. After a brief stint there, he stayed in college athletics as assistant to the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference. He was also the associate producer for broadcasts, which eventually led to his interactions with ESPN.
From there, Risser received an offer from ESPN, and over 18 years, he worked his way up to becoming the vice president of programming. However, his travel schedule made it difficult to spend time with his family, so he decided to stay closer to home and pursue his CMAA certification.
“ESPN was great,” Risser said. “I really enjoyed my time there. But my kids were ten and eight years old at the time and I wanted to be home with them. My wife is a teacher in Southington so I decided to come back and pursue my administrative certification.
Risser taught for five years in New Britain, and during that time, he received his masters degree from Central Connecticut State University and received his CMAA certification from Southern Connecticut State University. He was also the press announcer for all home Southington football games.
From there, he took his first high school athletic director position at Windsor. During his time there, Risser’s main focus was maintaining and updating the athletic facilities, and he also plans to bring that focus to Southington.
“We want to do the best we can, within reason, to give the best facilities possible to our athletes,” Risser said. “Our facilities are great and the turf field was a great addition. But we can always take a look at our facilities and look to enhance them. In the end, it is all about what is best for our students.”
Risser is still settling in to his new position, but he has already noticed how much sports means to not only the students, but the parents and countless others who help in raising money for the athletics programs.
“Early on, I am very impressed with the parent groups I have met,” Risser said. “The amount of time and energy spent assisting and supporting the programs has been great. I even want to point out the group that has continued to raise money for the middle school programs. They have been fantastic.”
It has all come full circle for Risser, who attended high school in Pa., where its mascot was the Black Knight.
“I started out as a Black Knight,” Risser said. “Now, I am a Blue Knight.”
To contact Risser, contact the athletic office at (860) 628-3229, ext. 11425 or by email at email@example.com.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.