Sports Person of the Week
Bill Paulson to Carry on Family Name in the Hall of Fame
2004 East Haven High School graduate Bill Paulson will be inducted into the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame this November. Bill’s dad, Pat, was inducted to the Hall of Fame back in 1994. (Photo courtesy of Bill Paulson )
Bill Paulson is going to be joining a familiar face when he’s enshrined into the East Haven Alumni Association Hall of Fame later this year. Bill’s father, Pat, was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1994. On Sunday, Nov. 18, Bill will be taking his rightful place alongside his dad when he’s inducted during the 32nd annual ceremony, which is taking place at Seasons beginning at 12:30 p.m.
A 2004 graduate, Bill played football, basketball, and baseball at East Haven High School. He achieved his greatest level of success on the gridiron and the diamond with the Yellowjackets.
“I will say out of the three, baseball and football were my top two,” says Bill. “Being an athlete in general, I did basketball just to stay in shape, but baseball and football were my first ones.”
Rusty Dunne, who coached the football team during Bill’s playing days, started Bill at wide receiver as a freshman and then moved him to quarterback. Bill also saw time as a running back, defensive back, kicker, and punter when he competed for the Easties.
“Growing up, my father was always my coach from when I could walk until I got to high school. One thing he always said was to be a well-rounded athlete. Whether it was at quarterback, wide receiver, running back, or punter, I tried everything, and I got good at a few things,” Bill says. “As long as I was in the game and able to make a difference, I was all for it.”
Bill garnered a variety of accolades on the football field. He earned All-SCC honors on two occasions, made the All-State Class M Team, and was also selected to Levi Jackson All-Star Team. Bill finished his career with 3,793 all-purpose yards, which is the third most in program history, along with 242 total points. He’s also ranked first in career touchdown receptions (12), second in touchdowns (37), first in punting average (40.5 yards), and set the single-season school record for punting average at 42.5 yards in 2002.
“Bill had some great games. He was big and fast and, when he was 14 years old, he started every game. He could do anything,” Dunne says. “I never felt we had enough guys most of the time, but we always had some great ones. The question became: What are we going to do to get the ball into so and so’s hands? Bill playing quarterback means there’s a chance he can score, because the ball is in his hands on every down.”
Even with all of his accomplishments on the football field, Bill ultimately chose to play college baseball at the University of Connecticut. As a member of the Yellowjackets, he was a star center fielder and pitcher who was named to the All-Hammonasset Team and the New Haven Register All-Time All-Area Team. In 2002, Bill helped East Haven win its division and advance to the Class L state final.
“I loved being at the plate, but I really loved having the ball in my hand every play. Pitching, you can control the game,” says Bill, who threw a fastball, slider, and changeup. “In high school, when you throw 93, you can stick to the fastball, but on the mound, you want to master the art, so you mix in different pitches. Over the years of my high-school career, I started to figure out what worked and what didn’t.”
Bill had an offer on the table to play professional baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization, although he opted to attend UConn. Bill later went on to join the United States Marine Corps. He served an eight-month combat tour in Afghanistan and received the Navy Unit Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal for his duty.
“I chose UConn, but decided as much as I enjoy sports, there is more to it, which led to me working as an electrician for a few years and then joining the Marine Corps,” Bill says. “Things work out for a reason and, that being said, that all led to the work ethic and drive I have for myself to always be better.”
With his induction into the Hall of Fame drawing closer every day, Bill has been thinking a lot about how great of an experience it was to represent his hometown as an athlete in East Haven.
“When I got the call, I thanked [Alumni Association Executive Director Steve Narracci] graciously. It was much appreciated,” says Bill. “I had a blast with the guys I played with. Playing with the guys was one thing I definitely won’t forget.”