A Coach, Mentor, And Leader: NHS Football’s Bobby Pattison Steps Down To Be A Family Man
Since 2017, Bobby Pattison has been the Head Coach of Newtown High School’s football team. Pattison informed school administration on January 19 that this past fall was his last — at least for now.
Pattison, a teacher at Newtown High, and his family have a newborn on the way, prompting him to hang up the clipboard and devote those extra hours put in on X’s and O’s in the film room and out on the turf at Blue & Gold Stadium to his family at home — in the living room and outside on the yard.
“Ultimately, what I needed to do is find more of a balance. Our family’s growing. We’re expecting our second child at the end of March,” Pattison said. “I needed to take a step back and football’s a year-round thing.”
Sure, the regular season may take place in the fall, but there are a lot of offseason responsibilities from weight room work to tournaments, workouts, camps, film sessions, and more, that make football coaching a time-consuming passion year-round.
“I kind of knew this day was coming,” said Newtown High School Athletic Director Matt Memoli, adding that he just wishes it was not happening yet.
That is because the Nighthawks are losing much more than just a head coach, Memoli notes.
“He builds such a strong relationship with each and every single kid,” Newtown’s athletic director points out. “He’s just everything you could want from a coach, a mentor, a leader.”
“If I can’t continue to coach the way I want to coach I need to step down,” said Pattison, adding that his idea of coaching is to give it 100 percent, requiring more of his time than there is to go around at this point. “It’s become a year-round thing and it’s very demanding.”
Pattison’s NHS football roots go back before his head coaching days. He played for Newtown High as a running back and linebacker, graduating in 2005, and worked as an assistant/defensive coordinator for seven seasons. He teaches history and economics at the high school as well.
“It was a very difficult decision for me being a part of Newtown football for 17, 18 years as a player, assistant coach, and head coach,” Pattison said.
He said the support from the administration, athletics department, Memoli, parents, and coaches, has been tremendous. The team’s success during Pattison’s tenure has also been tremendous. Newtown has been at the top of the South-West Conference each year and has been a state playoff contender. Pattison credits his predecessor, Steve George, for building the program and said he is optimistic the winning tradition will continue on Friday nights in the years to come.
Pattison extends a special thanks to Booster Club President and statistician Rich Guman, The Bee’s Sportsman of the Year. Pattison worked along side Guman on the Newtown Youth Football Board of Directors and helped ensure things went smoothly at the youth level and in the younger player transition on up to the high school ranks. There were summertime workouts, passing leagues, linemen competitions, and countless hours of game preparation.
Pattison notes that one of the things for which he is most proud is having several former Nighthawk players continue to play and excel at the collegiate level. “Some of our former captains have now become captains for their respective college programs — pretty amazing,” Pattison said.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to be the head coach these last six years and an assistant coach for years before that,” he said. “We won a lot of games, a lot of big, exciting games.”
Most notably, the 2019 Class LL State Championship game against Darien the Nighthawks won on the final play, in the fog. Pattison was subsequently honored as the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance Coach of the Year as well as the Walter Camp Coach of the Year.
As much as the big moments, including other thrilling state playoff wins, might be significant, it is the day-to-day things — conversations with other staff and players, and leading the team down the hill for kickoff at Blue & Gold, for example — that Pattison knows he will cherish and miss.
“We have a great group of rising seniors and they will continue with what they need to do to be successful,” Pattison said. “I’m going to miss those guys.”
Pattison said the door is not completely closed on coaching at Newtown High again in the future.
“I love coaching and I love Newtown football. I’m not saying I’m done,” said Pattison, adding that if an opportunity to step in and coach presents itself in the future he would certainly entertain the possibility to get back on the sideline.
As for Pattison’s successor, it remains to be seen if someone from within the coaching staff or outside will take over, but two things are for sure: Pattison said he will stick around to help out in the weight room in and with the transition process when a new coach comes on board, and “we’re going to find the best possible candidate to continue the winning ways we have here,” Memoli promised.
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at email@example.com.