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Greene is New London's new baseball coach

Matt Greene won a state championship as a member of the New London High School baseball team in 2009. In 2013, as an outfielder for UConn Avery Point, he helped lift the Pointers to an NJCAA Division II World Series berth in Enid, Okla., and drilled a World Series grand slam.

But the longer he's around baseball, the 27-year-old Greene finds, the more he learns.

"I enjoy being around the game. I enjoy being around the players, learning about the game. You learn a lot from a lot of different people," Greene said. "When I played at Avery Point, we had coach (Roger) Bidwell, coach (Ed) Harvey, coach (Gil) Varjas, Mike Aldrich, a loaded staff.

"Then to be a coach with them (beginning in 2018 at Avery Point, with Aldrich as head coach), you learn so many different things. It opened my eyes to a game I thought I knew. I spent a summer with the Schooners (of the NECBL) with Rob Bono as the head coach that year. You learn so much about the game."

Greene, having gleaned his coaching acumen from the some of the best, was hired prior to this season as New London High's head baseball coach.

He then gathered a staff which included a bunch of fellow New London guys, including former New London, Avery Point and Western Connecticut State teammate Edgard Santiago.

Greene, due to the COVID-19 crisis, is still waiting to coach the Whalers, but he's ready to go now back at his alma mater.

"I love doing this," Greene, in a telephone interview earlier this week, said of coaching. "That's really what it is for me. I grew up loving the game of baseball. You're learning something new every day you're at the ballpark. I'm taking what I have learned and going to teach that to my players now.

"Coach (Phil) Orbe (former Montville High and current Schooners coach) is the new AD (at New London). For me, that's awesome. Now I get to bug him with all my questions. You're learning every single day you're around the game."

Now a Mystic resident, Greene played baseball at every level in New London, from the New London National Little League on.

At the high school level, he was in the midst of a historical era for the Whalers.

In baseball, they won the 2009 Class M title with a 4-0 victory over Ellington at Palmer Field in Middletown, the program's sixth, coming under the direction of coach Mike Wheeler. The baseball team reached the state tournament all four years Greene was in high school. As as a senior he was named to the Class L all-state team and The Day's All-Area team.

Just prior to that, during the 2011 basketball season, Greene didn't play all that much, he said, but held a prime vantage point as future NBA player Kris Dunn and Co. propelled the Whalers to an unbeaten season under coach Craig Parker, capped with a 63-55 Class L state championship win over Northwest Catholic of West Hartford at Mohegan Sun Arena.

"I had a front-row seat for the best show in town," Greene said.

He played two seasons at Avery Point (2013-14) and two at Western Connecticut, where he earned team Most Valuable Player honors as a junior, batting .368 with 49 hits and 35 RBI in 38 games.

He graduated from Western in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in justice and law administration and headed off to law school at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., planning to join his dad, Matt, in the field as an attorney.

"I went back for my second year," Greene said. "Right before classes started, I had this feeling in my gut. I just didn't want to be a lawyer. 'I don't want to do this.' I ended up working part time at a hotel and, having played at Avery Point in 2013-14, when I wanted to get into coaching, I called Mike Aldrich and asked him if he had a spot for me on the staff."

Greene coached for two seasons at Avery Point and this fall he joined the staff at Mitchell College under head coach Travis Beausoleil. He also started his own business about a year and a half ago, performing title searches and recording titles for area attorneys.

He found out about the opening at New London High School just as he was getting started at Mitchell. 

"It was such a tricky, difficult thing for me," Greene said. "When I'm somewhere and I commit to someone, that's it. It was a discussion I had every single night with my parents, my girlfriend. Stay at Mitchell or apply for the job at New London? I talked to Travis. I disclosed it with Travis. He told me to kind of go for it.

"I couldn't pass up an opportunity to be head coach at my alma mater. New London is a job I can see myself being there. It's my home town. ... When I was first done with law school, I was 23 years old. I thought, 'Oh, I'm going to coach in college and go up the ranks that way.' (But) this is THE special job for me."

He called assembling his staff a "no-brainer." Santiago, a former left-handed pitcher, was The Day's All-Area Player of the Year in 2011, going 9-1 with a 0.27 ERA — "he was ridiculous," Greene said. He's to serve as the Whalers' pitching coach. There's also fellow Whalers Juan Cruz, Juan Bonilla and Kiki Santiago.

Now if the coaches could do more than text their players ...

"New London's a very special place. You meet a lot of great people from different cultures, different people that have had a lot of different experiences in the world, people that have had a lot of different perspectives," Greene said. "It was good for me. It helped mold me.

"Now, to come back as a grown up, to take my experiences growing up in New London, to take my experiences going to college and be able to teach that and coach the kids in New London, we all as a staff were very excited."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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