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Tim King Retires After 30 Years as Coach and Educator in Region 4
Tim King (front and center) stands among well-wishers honoring his 30-year career as an educator and coach with Region 4 after the Ivoryton Independence Day Parade on July 4. (Photo courtesy of Casey Metz)
Tim King helped lead the Valley Regional-Old Lyme football team to a Class S-Large State Playoffs title with a 21-20 victory over Ansonia in 2014. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
Tim King compiled a 153-92 record and six state playoffs berth with the Warriors’ football program. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
It’s the end of an era for Valley Regional High School with the retirement of Tim King.
King coached the Warriors’ football and outdoor track teams in some capacity for more than 30 years, and he has also been an educator within the tri-town area since 1989. That same year, King became an assistant coach of Valley Regional’s outdoor track squad and the defensive coordinator for the Warriors’ football team alongside then-head coach Steve Woods.
King helped the Valley girls’ outdoor track team win a state title in 1993 with Head Coach Lou Luciani. King also helped lead the charge for Warriors’ football to become a cooperative program with Old Lyme in 2006, and of course, as a head coach, King led the Warriors to their Class S-Large State Playoffs final victory over Ansonia in 2014.
King finished his football coaching career with a final overall record of 153-92 including six trips to the state playoffs.
King will always remember winning a state title with the Warriors’ 21-20 victory over Ansonia in 2014. Not only because it put a banner up in Valley Regional High School, but it also brought a banner to Lyme-Old Lyme High School, as well. King was born and raised in Old Lyme.
“That’s one of the greatest memories of my coaching career. It sticks out in my mind so much because I thought I would never ever get there. During the Bullard-Havens game in the semifinal, I remember calling a timeout with five minutes left going out on the field nearly in tears telling the team we have five minutes to play our hearts out to get into a state championship,” said King. “I remember getting to that final game, and I called my dad in the middle of the field and told him that I was at the 50-yard line at Willowbrook getting ready for a state final. He started to get teary, and I could hear him choke up.”
That moment was especially emotional because King’s father, George, and uncle, Tim Keenan, were some of the last football players to take the field for Old Lyme before the program disbanded in the early-1940s. King grew up in Old Lyme, but had to attend St. Bernard School in Uncasville in order to play football.
Part of what gave King the idea for a Valley-Old Lyme cooperative was the suggestion of his father. King broached the subject of a cooperative with then Region-4 Athletic Director Ginny Mislick and Lyme-Old Lyme Athletic Director Rob Roach.
“When my dad was alive, he was one of the last football players before they went to war back in 1943, my Uncle Tim, as well. My dad said one day that it would be neat if Old Lyme played with Valley. As time went on, our numbers started to drop, so in 2006 I talked to Ginny Mislick and Rob Roach, two of the best athletic directors that I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” said King. “They started working on it with the state and the Pequot Conference, and we were granted the co-op. That was a game changer. Football is a game of numbers. You have to have numbers.”
King and Mislick would eventually marry in 2013, just a year prior to Valley Regional-Old Lyme’s state title. While winning a state title was a huge accomplishment to King, he felt that Valley Regional and Old Lyme joining forces had a bigger impact.
“The bottom line is what are we in the business for? The kids. We opened up the ability to play football for 15 to 20 kids from Old Lyme, year after year,” King said. “They don’t have to pay to go to Saint Bernard to play, or something like that. These co-ops help kids play a great game and maybe even get scholarships to go play in college. It provides such a great opportunity for both schools’ kids.”
King also thought that winning that state title means that much more since that success is shared by multiple towns and schools.
“Once we became a co-op. There was never Old Lyme, Lyme, Deep River, Essex, or Chester. We became one. That’s how we looked at it as coaches and players. Going into that game, we were one team, and I knew we would play our hearts out,” King said. “Afterwards it was really neat. We won a state title incorporating two schools and five towns. At the first basketball game with Valley at Old Lyme, they talked about the banner on the wall. There’s a banner at Old Lyme and at Valley, which is really special. Two schools get to share that title as one.”
King wasn’t able to play for an Old Lyme team, but he was an impressive player as a running back and linebacker with St. Bernard. King helped lead the Saints to a Class M State Championship as a team captain in 1978.
While at St. Bernard, King was coached by longtime Deep River resident, the late David Pesapane. Coach King recalled a touching moment he had on the phone with Pesapane after the Warriors claimed their state title.
“My high school coach called me in 2014 when we won and told me I was in an elite group to win a state title as a player and as a coach,” said King. “That was a special moment, too. He called me the very next day.”
Pesapane knew that elite group intimately as he won a state title with Notre Dame High School in 1962 as a player and with St. Bernard in 1978 as a coach.
After his high school career, King went onto to play Idaho State University before transferring to Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. King found his coach’s calling while student teaching at Billings West High School in Montana in 1985. There King met the head coach of the football team and physical education teacher, Wally Sims. King also became acquainted with the head coach of the track team, Bob Graves.
In 1986, King became an assistant with the Billings West High’s new head coach of the football team Paul Klaboe. King also signed on as an assistant for the track team with Graves.
“When I did my student teaching, the high school football coach, Wally Sims, was also the phys ed teacher. I was doing my student teaching and the track coach, Bob Graves, was my supervisor, and he was a legend,” said King. “That had a big impact on me being a track and football coach. I was fortunate because they were great coaches and mentors.”
King would return to Connecticut in 1988 to help out his mother, who had recently received a cancer diagnosis. While back home, King called Pesapane looking for coaching opportunities.
“I called Dave Pesapane, and he hooked me up with Lou Luciani, who was the track coach at Valley and a junior high teacher. I went and coached the winter track season as an unpaid volunteer. That spring of ‘89, I was hired to coach track with Lou. He introduced me to Steve Woods who was the football coach at Valley,” said King. “It’s kind of crazy. Steve took over in ‘78 or so, and I took over after him. There’s only been two coaches in the last 40-some-odd years. That’s remarkable. Steve went to Old Saybrook then came back, and I was so fortunate to have him jump on our staff. He pretty much got the ball rolling back in the ‘80s.”
Coach King began his Region 4 teaching career at Deep River Elementary School, but eventually became the Valley Regional physical education teacher. King ended up coaching kids that he taught at Deep River Elementary at Valley Regional.
“It was crazy going from Mr. King at Deep River Elementary to Coach King at Valley. I had one girl that was in 6th grade when I left Deep River Elementary, then I had her all four years up at the high school. So I had her as a student for almost her whole schooling career except 7th and 8th grade,” said King. “I’ve always said that I don’t have children of my own, but every student or kid I’ve had the pleasure to coach are like my own children. I love seeing them and hearing what they’re doing in life. I’m at the point where kids I’ve coached have children of their own. That’s scary.”
At the Ivoryton Independence Day parade, King was given a send-off by former athletes, parents, and well-wishers. King felt so grateful to be an educator and coach in the community. It’s an experience he’ll never forget. For now, King wants to spend some time on being a fan.
“I’ve been playing and coaching since 1972. That’s a lot of falls that I haven’t had off. It’s neat because I can do some of my bucket-list things,” King said. “I’ve been a huge Army fan and Kevin Woods got me tickets to the Army-Navy game. I’m going to travel around and catch some games. We’re going to rent an RV and become football groupies.”
Coach King thanked Paul Ginter, Steve Woods, Kevin Woods, Bob Sanchez, Bob Narducci, Phil Cohen, Jake Bocian, Brandon Woodcock, Pete Woodcock, Ian Neviaser, Hilda Heck, Rob Roach, Tom Sullivan, Dr. Ruth Levy, Billy Bissetta, and many more for their support over the years.
“Not everyone is as fortunate as me to be able to work and coach at such a wonderful facility. Not everyone gets a chance to win a state title, especially in their hometown,” King said. “I just want to thank all my players and the kids for such an outpouring of support I received. The thousands of emails and letters was so emotional, and I never had the opportunity to thank everyone for that.”