Manchester High’s Bob Healy Honored With Coaching Award

By Danny Atkinson 

Former Manchester High School boys basketball coach Bob Healy was recently awarded the 2017 Coaches Recognition Award by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA).  Healy was given the award at the Coach of the Year Banquet on Friday, May 12th at The Aqua Turf in Plantsville.

Healy served as head coach of the Indians boys basketball program for 17 consecutive seasons from 1998 until 2015, when he retired from the position. Before becoming head coach of Manchester, he was an assistant to Frank Kinel for eight years. Healy and the Indians qualified for the CIAC state tournament in 11 seasons, and advanced to the Class LL Tournament quarterfinals twice.

Healy, who has been a longtime member of the CHSCA and managed programs for them, said he was very honored to receive the Coaches Recognition Award.

“Receiving the award was a very humbling experience. It feels special to be recognized by your peers,” Healy said. “My dad earned the same Award during his career as well, and it feels emotional to be on the same list.”

Before joining Manchester’s program, Heal coached men’s basketball and soccer at Windham High School for five years, also serving as a physical education teacher at the school. Healy then moved on to the college level and Trinity College, serving as an assistant for the Bantams for five seasons. He joined Manchester after being hired as a physical education teacher in 1987, a position he held until last year. Healy said the experience he gained and lessons learned as an assistant coach made him capable of being a successful head coach.

“I am very fortunate to have worked with a number of good coaches,” Healy said. “I became strong at copying and learning from the techniques and approaches I saw them take, and it allowed me to be more effective.”

Healy described the unique approach he took to coaching while leading MHS boys basketball. He tried to not focus heavily on winning and losing with Indians players. Instead, Healy emphasized the importance of improving each player both on and off the court.

“I constantly focused on developing the kids maturity,” Healy said. “The techniques and approaches I used were dedicated to making them better teammates and leaders. I obviously focused on improving the kids’ on-court abilities, but I followed the bigger picture of making them better people in life. Doing so was my most special accomplishment.”

Healy provided a similar answer when asked about his approaches to teaching individual Manchester players.

“To have player reach his full potential, I needed to show that I cared about them as an individual and identified the biggest contributions they could make to the team,” Healy said. “Each kid obviously had a unique personality and game. When I established and maintained the right connection to him on and off the court, the team was at its best”.

Healy provided multiple examples when asked his fondest memories as Manchester head coach. These included the Indians advancing to the Class LL quarterfinals in 2003 and 2012, beating undefeated Hartford Public in the semifinals of the 2012 Central Connecticut Conference Tournament, and his first game as head coach in 1998. This debut went to overtime and featured a memorable offensive duo between stars Mark Jones and the Indians Chaz Carr, who went on to star for Boston University.

Healy grew up in Manchester and has lived there much of his life. He starred in basketball for MHS and also played soccer and track & field, graduating in 1975. Healy then played a post-graduate year at Wilbraham & Monson Academy and for the Ithaca University’s basketball program which he captained.

Healy’s love of basketball and desire to pursue coaching was established not only by his competitive high school and college playing career but the exciting experiences he had participating in camps, first as a player and then coach. Healy played at the prestigious Camp Robin growing up, held at the University of Niagara. He participated in clinics and learned valuable skills from coaches and fellow campers. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, Healy coached at the Pioneer Basketball Summer Camp, run by his father Bob Healy Sr.

“I was sure I wanted to coach from a young age,” Healy said. “I always loved playing and attending camps, and I loved watching coaches and learning from them at clinics. I wanted to follow their example and teach players lasting skills as well. I started to coach for love, and immediately knew I wanted to do it for a long time. Coaching was always rewarding.”

Healy continues to serve on the Executive Board for the CHSCA.  He was the Class LL representative on the CIAC Boys’ Basketball Committee and the Chairperson for the CCCC Boys’ Basketball Tournament. Healy said serving in these positions has been a great way to understand the Connecticut high school sports scene and stay connected to colleagues.

Healy said the most rewarding aspect of his coaching career at Manchester High is the lasting relationships he has formed with many players.

“I have kept in contact with many kids, and there are some I still speak to regularly,” he said. “Being able to see these boys grow up and form successful adult lives is constantly amazing.”

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