Former UConn football manager Ray Reid returns to game with Hartford Athletic – Hartford Courant

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If you know Ray Reid, you know football is in his blood and retiring was the furthest thing from his heart.

But Reid, one of Connecticut’s most successful college coaches, announced his retirement last December after 25 years at UConn. Now he returns to the good game with Hartford Athletic as technical director.

Reid, 62, will be in charge of football operations, overseeing all aspects and answering only to owner Bruce Mandell.

“They do a great job on the business side,” Reid said. “They draw big crowds, do great promotion, marketing, they do a great job there. We just need to get more resources to elevate the side of football. I think we can do it.

Athletic, which debuted as a USL franchise in July 2018, averaged more than 4,640 fans per game in 2021. On the pitch, they struggled, going 9-22-5 the first season, 11-3-2 in the pandemic-ravaged second season, 12-15-5 in 2021 and 1-1-6 so far in 2022.

It would be hard to imagine a better fit for this job. Reid is full of energy and relentless in his passion for the game. Although he needed flexibility in his schedule to take care of family concerns, he also needed more football-related goals in his life.

“I miss the camaraderie of the locker room, the team,” Reid said. “I want to be able to supervise him. I will be responsible for the head coach, assistant coaches, strength, athletic training, analysts, academy. Building the dressing room, preparing the players, building the culture we want to build. »

Reid captained a championship team in Southern Connecticut and coached the Owls to two more Division II titles before moving to UConn in 1997, where he replaced Joe Morrone. While at Storrs, Reid won a Division I championship and took teams to the NCAA Tournament 25 times before retiring with a career rating of 457-149-78.

In this new role, Reid won’t have the headaches that come with college recruiting and fundraising, transfer portal, name-image-likeness issues, it’s just football. And is there a better known football figure in Connecticut?

“Ray Reid is a Connecticut football icon and we are thrilled to have him named Technical Director,” Mandell said. “He has proven himself on and off the pitch and his experience will complement Coach perfectly. [Harry] Watling and the rest of our technical staff, as well as unique opportunities for our organization as a whole.

Reid does not foresee any big changes when he takes office. Athletic play Saturday at home against New York Red Bulls II at Trinity Health Stadium.

“The level of play is pretty good,” Reid said. “I watched the guys play last month, I watched every day, I watched. There are challenges, but Connecticut is a good football state. Good fans, good location, great place to play. I hope I can help Coach Watling and Bruce Mandell move our group in the right direction over time. I’m coming to assess every aspect of it over the next two months. I like Harry, I think he’s a good coach. I’m here to put a plan in place, evaluate everything and see what our best course of action is.

As Reid pointed out, all the elements are in place for a successful operation. Athletic have a vocal and loyal fan base that makes their presence felt at home games. Only a few more wins are missing.

“Ray is one of the most influential people in football in Connecticut and his experience and knowledge of the American football system are welcome additions to our organization,” Watling said. “I am very happy that he has decided to join us and I look forward to working with him.”

Before leaving UConn, Reid set up a scholarship program to help minority coaches. He has a large coaching tree, with 19 of his former players or assistant coaches at the college or professional Division I level, including Chris Gbandi, his successor at UConn. Since his “retirement”, he has been involved in various fundraising projects, helping to attract 500 dinner attendees to help start a football scholarship in memory of John DeBrito, who played for him at Southern, and a podcast series, “For the Love of the Game.

So Reid, with plenty to do in retirement, is now back in the game and ready to build another winning culture.

Dom Amore can be reached at [email protected]

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