Reid Chieffo has an extensive history with the sport of soccer in North Haven. Born and raised in town, Reid competed for the Indians at the high school, and he also has 20-plus years of coaching experience with the North Haven Soccer Club (NHSC). Now, Reid brings all of that experience back to the high school, as he was recently named the new head coach of the Indians’ boys’ soccer squad.
Reid was a four-year varsity starter at North Haven who captained the team in his senior season. He was also a two-time All-State First Team selection and made the All-New England Team in 1984. After graduating, Reid went on to Suffield Academy and helped the team win the Western New England Prep School Championship in 1986. Reid then earned a full scholarship to play Division I soccer for the University of Hartford, where he also started all four years and was a senior captain.
In other words, Reid has tremendous credentials, as well as a familiarity with his hometown that can benefit everyone involved in his new capacity as North Haven’s head coach. This fall, Reid will be coaching many of the same athletes that he worked with in the NHSC earlier in their careers.
“When this opened up, it was a no-brainer. I knew I had to put in for the job and go for it,” says Reid. “I know the kids. I coached them when they were 10 years old. I know every single kid out there. It’s nice to be out there with them again.”
While the decision to apply was simple, the job itself won’t be for Reid, who knows that he can expect the intensity to ramp up significantly compared to his role with the NHSC. However, the head coaching position also presents an opportunity for Reid to reinforce the skills that his players will need to perform well on the pitch.
“This is a little different for me because [the NHSC] was two practices a week and then a game on the weekend. [The high school program] is almost seven days a week,” Reid says. “I will have more contact and time with the players. I can teach technical and tactical skills and what they do as a team. Develop a distinct style of play that is exciting for the players.”
The Indians will be looking to bounce back this year on the heels of a difficult campaign in which they went 1-13-2. Reid knows he has his work cut out for him, but he’s already working on a blueprint to help North Haven get back on a winning track.
“I want to take a little different approach, a different coaching style to the program,” says Reid. “It’s going to be getting back to the fundamentals, the basics, and re-energizing a competitive culture at the high school. Accountability will be huge.”
Fortunately, Reid believes that his predecessor, Federico Fiondella, has instilled the right mindset in the Indians’ athletes. Still, Reid wants his team to take it even further and embrace being an example for the younger players in town. He hopes that will lead to a deeper pipeline of players for the high school program.
“At the high school, you’re representing the town first, but they’re also role models for the town program,” Reid says. “When you’re a kid in the town program, you go to high school games and watch those players. How they carry and conduct themselves is important. I think the former coach did a great job with that, so I can just reinforce those things with a bit of a different approach.”
Fundamentals will be a key component of Reid’s approach, but he’s also aiming beyond teaching his athletes how to execute on the field. Reid wants his players to find the desire to be great.
“To teach the game is one thing, but to instill the excitement in players is another, so that they look inside themselves and want to improve themselves,” says Reid. “It’s not just you show up to practice and the coach is the motivator. You have to find the fire inside you to motivate yourself, to apply yourself at practice.”
It’s that type of enthusiasm that makes North Haven High School Athletic Director Steve Blumenthal eager to see Reid in action.
“I think Reid, being a North Haven product, brings passion to our program. He has a high soccer IQ and will help our players get to the next phase,” Blumenthal says. “We’re very happy to have him part of the athletic program, and we’re excited about what’s to come.”
Reid feels just as excited as Blumenthal to get the 2017 season started, and not just because he wants North Haven to consistently show up in the win column. One of the most important things for Reid as he begins in his new position is for his athletes to take more away from their time with the team than what happens on the field.
“It’s not only soccer,” Reid says. “It’s life lessons through soccer.”