Coaches can make lifelong impacts on athlete’s lives, particularly during trying times. The disappointments that many high school athletes have felt over the last couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic are lasting, but a caring coach can often make a profound difference in the lives of these athletes.
For Ethan Taylor, defensive coordinator Peter Ladas was more than a coach. Taylor, a 2021 graduate, played football at the school all four years and recently wrote a letter to his former high school defensive coach as an assignment for an engineering class at the University of Connecticut. Below is Taylor in his own words.
“Dear Coach Ladas,
When asked to write a letter in my Engineering 1000 level class to someone who has helped me grow as a person, there was no doubt in my mind that you would be the perfect person to write to.
I am writing this letter to you as a sign of appreciation for all that you have done for me, and the football team in general. During my freshman and sophomore years, I had a strong urge to stop playing the sport that I used to love so much. However, at the end of my sophomore year, I decided to stick with the sport… and I’m so thankful that I did.
My junior year of football was most definitely the best one yet. That year I felt I have grown the most as both a person and a football player. The sport alone teaches an individual tons of valuable lessons and skills, like leadership capabilities, perseverance, and grit. However, with your help, I was able to learn so much more. You were a role model for the entire team; someone who had the team’s respect and attention the second you walked in the door. Although we may not have had the best season performance-wise, you helped push us and shape us into who we are today, and for that, I am forever thankful.
While you may already know, I am currently majoring in Chemical Engineering at UConn Storrs. I found my passion for Chemical Engineering senior year, taking AP Chemistry. Although my major may not be directly correlated to football, every day I use the lessons and skills that both the sport and you as a coach have taught me.
Also, while our school may not have a club football team, I do aspire to pick up baseball again next year, hopefully playing for the club team. I already have a decent amount of work, but I really do want to continue with your teachings and push myself to be the best version, always learning and improving. For that reason, I hope that club baseball will be able to fill the void that I so dearly miss.
I may not have been able to watch a football game this year, but in the near future, I would love to get some of the guys back together and come to watch the team play. I wish both you and the team the best of luck next season - I know for a fact that they’re in good hands.
Once again, thank you for all that you have done for me, and the rest of the crew!
Your favorite strong safety,
Ladas, who has been coaching football at GHS since 2019, responded to Taylor’s letter by posting, “Wins and losses to the side, it always makes my day to be reminded of why I do what I do. I’ve got so many great relationships with former players that will last a lifetime and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Thank you, Ethan Taylor, your future is very bright!”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin