Roman resigns as New London football coach

Juan Roman huddles with his players prior their final drive against NFA on Thanksgiving morning. The Whalers would go 90 yards to beat the Wildcats 26-22. After the game Roman told his players he was stepping down as head coach after two seasons. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Juan Roman huddles with his players prior their final drive against NFA on Thanksgiving morning. The Whalers would go 90 yards to beat the Wildcats 26-22. After the game Roman told his players he was stepping down as head coach after two seasons. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Juan Roman was, as he put it, torn between two lovers — family and coaching football at his alma mater — New London High School.

Family won out, of course.

After returning to New London following a dramatic 26-22 comeback road victory over rival Norwich Free Academy, Roman told his team he was stepping down as head coach. He led the Whalers to a 13-8 record and a Class L playoff berth in his two seasons as head coach.

“I’ve got two kids who are in college (J. Hunter and D. Major) and I need to be able to spend that time and see them play (for Yale) and be involved in their lives in that capacity,” Roman said Thursday night. “They won an Ivy League championship (this season). I wasn’t there when they clinched a share of it. They beat Harvard for the first time in 10 years last year, I wasn’t there.

" I haven’t been able to make the Bulldog Walk on Saturdays, and when I go to the games, I have to run out like my hair was on fire (due to coaching duties).”

Roman also has a daughter, Spencer, a New London junior who started for its 2016-17 Class LL state championship girls' basketball team.

“It’s a lot harder than people give it credit for,” Roman said. “(It’s) a whole lot of moving parts. It’s definitely easier to be an assistant where you do your position, do you job, and move on. The thing (about being a head coach) is the stuff outside of football, or is part of football, such as permission slips ... physicals all that stuff. Now that’s all on you.”

Roman was a New London senior tri-captain in 1983 and helped the Whalers win the Class M title. He returned to the program in 2005 as an assistant coach and did that for 11 seasons.

“Don’t get me wrong — as I told the kids today, I will definitely be involved with the New London Gridiron Club and things of that nature," Roman said. "I didn’t want them thinking, 'see you later and have a nice life.'

“New London kids, I’m one of them. I want to see them do well. … I don’t want the kids thinking this is some adult who is giving up on them.”

n.griffen@theday.com

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