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Alumni spotlight: Charles Farley inducted into a pair of high school coaching halls of fame

Alumni spotlight: Charles Farley inducted into a pair of high school coaching halls of fame

by Public Relations | January 30, 2024

LATROBE, PA — When he graduated from Saint Vincent College, Charles Farley C’65 never intended to become a track and field coach. “I’d wanted to be a coach since I was in high school, but it was always [in] football,” Farley said with a laugh.

An unexpected change of plans worked out well for Farley. Over a 58-year career, he guided the boys’ and girls’ track and field teams at Mark T. Sheehan High School in Wallingford, Conn., to four state championships, five second-place state finishes and a slew of individual honors. Last July, Farley was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In May 2024, he will be enshrined in the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“When I heard I’d gotten into the national [hall of fame], I was amazed. I was speechless,” Farley said. “Then when I heard about the state one, it was a whole different level of happiness. Being part of those groups is special. I never thought it was going to happen. It wasn’t even on my radar.”CharlesFarley.jpg

At Saint Vincent, Farley was a center on the football team and a sort of accidental wrestler. “My cousin was on the wrestling team and in my senior year they needed a heavyweight,” Farley recalled. “I wasn’t really big enough to be a heavyweight, but I was ‘volunteered’ to be on the team, so I did it.”

His first job out of college was as a math teacher and football coach at Lyman High School in Connecticut. When a gig as assistant track and field coach came open at Lyman, Farley applied for it on a lark. “I wasn’t really doing anything in the spring because back then we didn’t coach football 12 months a year like they do now,” Farley said. “So, I said, ‘What the heck, why not [apply]?’ I think I was the only one who applied, so I got the job. And then things just took off.”

When Sheehan opened in 1971, Farley switched schools and built a powerhouse program. Powered by the pole vaulters, who took four of the top six finishes, the team won its first indoor state title in the 1999-2000 season. In 2014, Sheehan captured its first outdoor state crown despite having just nine members on the team.

“[Farley] is like a legend,” former Sheehan sprinter Justin Doehr told the New Haven Register in 2011.

Sheehan’s senior-laden 2022 girls’ team — arguably the finest squad Farley ever coached — went undefeated in the regular season and dominated at the state meet. “They were outstanding athletes,” Farley said. “They listened. They were coachable. They believed in what we were doing and developed to the fullest of their potential.”

At the 2022 Connecticut Sports Media Alliance’s annual Gold Key dinner, Farley won the Doc McInerney High School Coach of the Year Award. He also was named Connecticut high school girl’s track and field coach of the year by the U. S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Farley retired from teaching in 2005 and retired from coaching last year. He stays connected to track and field by volunteering as a meet official … but still sometimes gets the itch to coach.

“There are days when I think, ‘I should be at practice,’ but I try to stay away,” Farley said. “I chat with [Sheehan’s] new head coach, who was my assistant for 10 years, all the time and I keep sending him stuff. He hasn’t told me to stop yet, so that’s good.”


PHOTO: Charles Farley