Stonington grad Stephen Bailey named Lyman Memorial boys' basketball coach
The interview was virtual, like most things during these uncertain times, but when Lyman Memorial athletic director Scott Elliott hit the "exit" key on his laptop, he had the sense that this was a face-to-face meeting.
"His interview blew me away," said Elliott while announcing the hiring of Stephen Bailey as the Bulldogs' new boys' basketball coach on Monday. "His energy was contagious. His enthusiasm and excitement for the game of basketball was impressive.
"His 'want' to become a head coach at this level is something that really sold me in the interview process."
Bailey, 29, replaces Chris Fabry, who resigned after leading Lyman to the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division IV title just two seasons ago, the program's only ECC title in school history, and another winning season in 2019-20. The Bulldogs didn't get to play their first state tournament game because the CIAC canceled the postseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You've got to be same whether it's an in-person interview or virtual," Bailey said. "You just have to be yourself and that's what I tried to do."
Bailey, a 2009 Stonington High School graduate, has spent the last four years as an assistant coach under Jeff Bernardi and an assistant football coach under Rudy Bagos. He also teaches physical education and health at Wheeler, where he would have been the Lions' new girls' softball coach last spring if the season hadn't been canceled.
"Jeff Bernardi runs a top-notch program at East Lyme High School," Elliott said. "He's always been nothing but professional, puts out a tremendous product and you can see the kind of respect everyone in the region has for him and his program.
"I expect to see the same concept with (Bailey) coming up to Lyman."
Elliott also reached out to East Lyme AD Steve Hargis, who told him "this is a guy you never want to leave your program. He'll do everything you ask him to do, and then he's going to ask, 'What more can I do?'"
After graduating from Stonington, Bailey spent a year at Plymouth State (N.H.) before transferring to UConn Avery Point, where he played for James Childs. He earned his college degree at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Bailey has a simple philosophy, something he feels will be particularly important coaching at a small school.
"One of things sports teaches us is life lessons," he said. "That's want I want to bring to Lyman. I want these young gentlemen to know that sports might end after high school, but you can still flourish in your community and bring that same passion to college or into the work force as adults."