Community MVP: Farmington’s Deasy

Bob Deasy might or might not have been the driving force behind the successful birth of the Farmington High School Unified Sports program. It depends on how one defines the bridge between the plans of starting an endeavor and when enough action has been taken to know that the ideas have become reality and something tangible has been put in place.

It doesn’t matter whether he’s judged as the founding father of Farmington’s outlet for students with disabilities to partner up with students without them in athletic competition. For all who have followed or been involved with the special Unified Sports program, it is clear that Deasy has provided the steady and inspirational stewardship with an unwavering commitment to have guided Farmington Unified Sports to the lofty esteem in which it is held.

Area school districts use Farmington as a model when contemplating the start of such a program or to offer improvements to their existing Unified teams, and Deasy is the reason why they do.

For leading Farmington Unified Sports for more than two decades and for his continued work as an athletic trainer for the Indians, Deasy has been named Community MVP for October by The Sports Department.

“I’m almost like a traffic cop on the sidelines,” Deasy said. “This is not a one-man show. It takes a team effort to make this go.”

“This has changed my life dramatically. I’m just an ordinary guy who enjoys working with special needs students. I have a passion for it. It’s a privilege for me. It has changed my life,” said Deasy, 70, a resident of Unionville for 45 years.

The roots of his Unified Sports involvement was a per chance occurrence.

He was leaving a field as baseball coach at Irving Robbins Middle School in the early 1990s when Janet Roman and her special needs students were walking off their adjoining field at the same time.

The groups interacted, and Roman quickly saw the ease and flair with which Deasy related to her students. It was a natural fit.

“She said ‘I think you’d do well coaching them,’ then she handed me their folder. ‘You work well with these kids,’ she said. It was a simple as that,” Deasy said. It was less formal then than it is now. Unified Sports is offered in co-ed soccer in the autumn, co-ed basketball in the winter and co-ed track and field in the spring. Deasy brought it along from that point at Irving Robbins. Unified Sports then took hold at the high school.

Deasy grew up in the north end of Hartford, graduating from Weaver High School in 1961. He earned his associates degree in business administration from Tunxis Community College in 1978 by going the night school route.

For 30 years, he worked for Pratt & Whitney in engineering and accounting roles, the last nine years in education and training at the corporate level. He left P&W to found his own business, PQA, which he ran for 14 years before closing it. He is a volunteer for the Connecticut Association of Schools, which runs Unified Sports in the state.

He is a part-time driver for Middlewoods of Farmington and spends hours each week in the school year as a trainer for Farmington High School sports, his other passion.

“I’m just trying to enjoy my retirement,” said Deasy, who likes spending time with his 8- and 4-year-old grandsons who live in Burlington. He still checks in on Unified Sports in Farmington in an unofficial capacity two or three times a week, and he is involved with CAS, working as a consultant for school districts throughout the country who want to see how Unified Sports should be run.

The most gratifying aspect of Deasy’s involvement with Unified Sports, he said, is seeing the regular-education mentors chose to go into Special Education as a career from their work with the Unified athletes as teenagers. “They’re the true heroes,” he said. “They truly get the most out of it.”

Jack Phelan, the Farmington High School director of athletics since 2003, is appreciative of Deasy’s work. “He had a vision of what Unified Sports could be,” Phelan said. “He came forward with a plan then put forth so much time to make it work. He wrote grant [proposals] and found all different ways to make the program work. He’s responsible for putting Unified Sports on the map at Farmington High School.

“He’s a real giving and caring person,” said Phelan, who notes how Deasy can handle a myriad of other responsibilities at Indians games when not pressed into tending to injured athletes as one of three trainers. In the early 1980s for five years, Deasy was a volunteer in the athletic training department at Central Connecticut State University.

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