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The moment that kept coming back to him was watching his Waterford High School girls' soccer players, having just won the Class M state title last fall, jogging over to greet their parents, the program's first championship trophy held aloft.
"A team that just worked hard and overachieved, their smiles, just the pure elation," Rob Brule said Thursday. "I thought, 'I know what it feels now to accomplish a goal that I never thought would come true.'
"When they ran over, that was the moment. I remember thinking, 'Nothing will ever top this moment.' ... I wanted to leave the program with all of those feelings."
Brule, 46, a Waterford High graduate and head coach for 20 seasons, winning 243 career games and being inducted into the Southeast Connecticut Junior Soccer Association Hall of Fame in 2013, has submitted his resignation.
Brule was promoted last year to the position of chief operating officer at Project Genesis, Inc., in Willimantic, a non-profit organization which provides support and training for people with disabilities to experience the full range of life within their communities, increasing his job responsibilities.
Having taken Waterford from an 0-16 record the year before he arrived to the 2013 championship game, a 1-0 win over Haddam-Killingworth, Brule said leaving the program he built comes with a measure of sadness, but with no regrets.
The second coach in Waterford history, Brule said he is proud to have coached alongside of several "legends" at Waterford, including former baseball coach Gerry Rousseau.
"I didn't realize emotionally how much I put into the program until I saw kids crying," Brule said of his recent meeting to tell the Lancers he was no longer coaching. "I'll never forget that moment.
"They were either tears of joy or tears of sadness; assume for my benefit they were tears of sadness. It was certainly emotional for me. How do you tell them, 'I'm honored to be your coach, but I'm not going to be your coach anymore.'"
Brule said his goalie, Jordan Kovacs, wrote him a letter asking him not to go and referring to the team as a family, something which made him take a little longer with his decision.
"This is a 15-year-old goalkeeper I screamed at saying, 'Please stop rolling your eyes,'" Brule said. "She's the one that made me wait."
Brule thanked his wife Kim, with whom he celebrated his 20th anniversary this week, saying she endured his coaching with "such support and grace."
He's said he's looking forward to watching the program's three Division I players, Melina Spanos (Hartford), Naya Loftis (Maine) and Julie Lavoie (Central Connecticut) square off against each other in the fall.
He will remain the director of coaching for the Southeast Soccer Club and has been a volunteer assistant coach for the Connecticut College women's team.
"One constant were those girls come the fall, get them to the next level if I could," Brule said. "I don't have any regrets. I left it all out there. I'm a Waterford guy through and through. It's not a funeral for Rob, just a different chapter.
"Hopefully the kids know how much I love them."