A Coaching Legend Retires After 31 Years

A Connecticut coaching legend, Paul Thees, is retiring after 31 years and 512 victories, including 362 wins at the helm of the Amity girls’ volleyball team. {{more}}

Thees’ career came to an end earlier this month after his volleyball team was defeated by Cheshire in the Class LL state quarterfinals. Thees secured his 500th coaching win earlier this season.

“I always knew there was going to be a time when I would need to make a change in my life and now is that time. It’s time to watch my own children compete and plan a move with my wife and them,” Thees said.

“My most grateful thank you is for my wife, Susan, who supported me all these years. Anyone who has coached, understands the trials of being a coach’s wife and family. It is now my turn to give back to them,” added Thees.

He thanked all his former players, assistant coaches, athletic directors and everyone associated with Amity volleyball.

Thees also coached at Platt High School in Meriden, and North Branford High School. He said each team led to “very special moments” during his coaching career.

“Coach Paul Thees is in a class of his own. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach beside him for the past four years. I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible. He is a legendary coach whose record speaks for itself — one of a kind and he will truly be missed,” said Mia Malafronte, who is an assistant girls’ volleyball coach.

• Thees compiled a 512-157 career record, and a 362-86 mark in 20 seasons at Amity.

• He holds the record for most wins at Amity.

• Thees’ teams have appeared in the state tournament in 29 of the 31 years, including each year at Amity.

• He has four state titles including three at Amity. He also has three second place finishes.

• Thees was selected as one of the top eight nominees for National Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) in 2006.

Despite three decades as a coach, Thees said he continued to learn something new each year.

“The coaching was about building relationships and committing to something – stuff that you can carry through life. I wanted to feel like I’ve impacted the players. You have to find your skill in life and go with it. Some people can sing. Some people can dance. And for some reason, I can coach,” Thees said.

After his 500th victory, former player, Julia Keller, of Virginia, said Thees was more than a coach.

“Paul took us under his wing; he cared about us personally. He came to know our families, encouraged our team friendships and ensured we prioritized our studies.  He was the consummate high school coach:  he was doing his best to make us well-rounded people on and off the court,” Keller, who attended North Branford High School, said in an email. “I am so very honored to have been coached by Paul.”

Prior to the end of the season, Thees said one more win would tie him for Cy Young at 511.

“Now that’s being old!” Thees quipped.

In looking back at the season, Thees said, the team had a very successful year.

When Thees returned to Amity four years ago the program had fallen on hard times, but it’s been resurrected.

“They have been such a great group of players to work with – such nice kids. I wish the very best for my six senior players and three senior managers. Amity volleyball has been put back on course by them,” Thees said.