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Chris Bugyi is in his first season as a co-head coach of the East Haven Unified Sports team. Chris and fellow coach Jake Hackett hope to see the program keep growing during the upcoming years. (Photo courtesy of Chris Bugyi )
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The Yellowjackets feel excited about what’s on the horizon as the number of athletes continues to grow at East Haven High School. One of the people leading this wave of enthusiasm is Chris Bugyi, a paraprofessional who’s in his first year as co-head coach of East Haven’s Unified Sports program. Bugyi, who coaches the program alongside Jake Hackett, feels proud to see Unified Sports thriving at the high school.
“We think Unified Sports is an unbelievable opportunity for the kids, so we decided to do it. [Hackett] is a really kind-hearted kid, and that’s why I wanted to do this with him,” Chris says. “I actually have more enjoyment coaching the Unified kids. When you coach, you want to win all the time, and thus you put pressure on the kids. With the Unified kids, it’s all about having fun, and you get to let it loose.”
Chris grew up in Milford and currently lives in Trumbull. He spent two years attending St. Joseph and went on to graduate from Milford Academy. Chris played football and baseball at both schools, continuing his career in the latter sport at the Community College of Rhode Island. He stayed in Rhode Island as the baseball team’s recruiting coordinator for three seasons, before taking on that same role at the University of Bridgeport.
“I was in charge of the allotment of money for scholarships. We had 11 scholarships, so if I saw a player I liked and the head coach did his background, it was my job to offer the scholarship money,” says Chris. “It was a lot of work, constant phone calls, and it made me very popular around all colleges from Virginia to Maine that had baseball programs.”
The workload eventually took its toll on Chris, who decided to enter the coaching landscape at the high school level. Chris has been an assistant coach for the St. Joseph football team the past 15 years and the associate head coach of the baseball team for the last nine. Chris has won six state titles in football and one in baseball at St. Joseph.
East Haven Athletic Director Anthony Verderame believes the Yellowjackets are blessed to have a coach of Chris’s caliber leading their Unified Sports program. Just like Hackett, Verderame says that Chris is a gifted coach who brings constant positivity to the Easties.
“Chris is a state champion coach, and coaching is in his blood. It’s who he is, it’s what he does, and it shows,” says Verderame. “Chris has a fantastic relationship with all the kids in the building. The amount of professionalism he has as a Unified teacher and Unified sports coach, it’s absolutely to be commended. He’s a great guy and a great coach.”
Chris is honored to be a part of Unified Sports in East Haven. He feels thankful that the school puts so many resources into the program.
“Verderame is the one that got this off the ground again. Jake and I wanted to do it, and he pushed it though. It’s great for the community of East Haven High School, because those kids are a part of the school. They should be able to play, and he’s a kind soul himself,” Chris says. “That’s the best part of working at East Haven. Everyone is so generally nice and wants to see kids compete.”
Chris says that his favorite part of coaching Unified Sports is seeing the smiles on the athlete’s faces. Chris knows that they just want to get out there and have fun. When that happens, the feeling is priceless for Chris.
“I want the people in town to understand we’re in it for the kids 100 percent. That’s all we do it for,” says Chris. “As long as I’m working at East Haven, I’ll always do this. I love being able to do it, and nothing will get in the way of this.”
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