Published September 03. 2012 4:00AM Updated September 04. 2012 4:28PM
For the East Haven girls' soccer program, coming off of a 5-10-1 season and venturing into a 2012 season with a new coach, it would ideally want someone who is not only well-versed in the game, but also exudes a certain blend of professionalism with it. East Haven's desire has become the possession in the form of new head man Ray Curren.
After playing soccer for West Haven, Ray played club soccer at Syracuse. Upon returning to earn his Master's at University of New Haven, the former ESPN production assistant spent a decade coaching girls' soccer at West Haven and Sacred Heart Academy prior to East Haven.
"I found out about their opening here and it just seemed like a natural fit for me," says Ray, who also works at the school. "They knew what I did at Sacred Heart last season [15-1-1 mark], so I took the opening this past July."
Ray views his double exposure at East Haven as an opportunity to interact with his students, expressing his soccer expertise and also his outlooks on team communication. Keeping his positive and professional attitude, he remains optimistic that the Yellowjackets can create a surprising sting this year.
"Being in the school as well is better to help teach lessons through soccer," says Ray. "I am able to see them not only in the classroom, but also another side of them on the field. I try to teach them to work as a team; telling them that you have to get along with people professionally in life. While at Sacred Heart, we defeated East Haven twice last year, yet the second time they hung tough with us. I told them that if the team that showed up that day shows up every day, we can make the tournament. If we understand what's going on in the game, stay healthy and have team camaraderie, we can surprise some people."
One person who doesn't need to hear Ray's story and winning culture is Athletic Director Mike Marone; he saw Ray's championship-caliber class and soccer skills he brought to the Yellowjacket table as the deciding factors to hire him as the next leader of the girls' soccer squad.
"With his experience at Sacred Heart, Ray Curren brings experience in running an excellent program there, while he also has an impeccable character," Marone says. "I am hoping he can bring the winning way here to East Haven. He also works in the school building, which is a big plus as the kids get to see him all year."
Borrowing his own attitude he instills on his athletes, Ray has learned more about life through his days on the field. He also cherishes coaching through watching his students grow into professional people, not athletes, while interacting with them.
"I was too competitive when I played," says Ray, who credits his sister, Shannon, and former neighborhood friends, Tim and Pat Hannah for his success. "I learned it's only a game and losing isn't the end of the world. When I coach, I stress sportsmanship; that you must win and lose with class. I also have learned and teach to blend different personalities together on a team and work to compromise. As far as rewards from coaching, it is rewarding to watch students grow up and prepare for college and the future."