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Avery Point coach Connor Lewis: 'Baseball is where I was supposed to be'

May 9—On his toughest days, Connor Lewis is happy about his decision to change his career course to enter the coaching profession.

That's a sure sign that Lewis is right where he should be, leading the UConn Avery Point baseball program.

"The bad days here are really better than my good days sitting at a desk," Lewis said.

A Waterford High School graduate, Lewis will be in the dugout at Washington Park in Groton this weekend when Avery Point competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) East Region sub-district tournament. The best-of-three series against Monroe Community College begins at 1 p.m. Friday.

It will be another on-the-job learning experience for Lewis, who was hired last July after spending one season as pitching coach at Mitchell College. He has led Avery Point to a 16-13 record in his first job as a head coach.

After a slow start, the Pointers finished the season winning seven of their last eight games.

"It's been good," Lewis said of his first season. "It's certainly been a learning process for me. A lot of growing collectively as a team. We started out pretty slow, but as we got into the swing of things, we've gotten a lot better. The guys have definitely improved and they're starting to buy into what we're doing. We're seeing the benefits of it on the field."

"... The biggest thing for me was making the transition to really running an entire program. As an assistant, you're kind of sheltered from the tougher side of things."

While Lewis is a newcomer to the coaching profession, he gained a quality baseball education at Waterford. A pitcher, he helped the Lancers reach the state championship game in 2013. Then he went on to compete at the Division I level at the University of Hartford.

After graduating in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and a minor in actuarial science, Lewis took a job in finance before moving to Virginia to work in construction management for a couple of years.

Baseball was always in the back of mind.

"I kept thinking about wanting to get back in the game," Lewis said. "I knew coaching was something that I always wanted to do and I got an opportunity to come home and make that happen."

Lewis landed on Travis Beausoleil's staff at Mitchell. In his one season as pitching coach, he helped the Mariners earn an NCAA tournament bid and come within one win of advancing out of the regional round.

After Beausoleil left last spring to become the Avery Point athletic director, he eventually hired Lewis to fill the opening after the departure of Ian Ratchford.

Lewis is learning to handle the unique challenges that come with coaching on the junior college level. His roster is short-handed in the pitching department and lacks experience like most two-year programs.

But he's having a ball.

"The thing I've enjoyed the most is just being around this team," Lewis said. "It's an incredible group of guys. They've made year one really enjoyable and easy in some cases."

Beausoleil is impressed with the job that Lewis has done.

"He's done really well," Beausoleil said. "His work ethic is pretty unwavering. He knows what he wants to do. He's working 80 hours a week and it's a part-time job. It's very similar to where I was at Mitchell when I started. He's putting in the time. He's great with the guys and communicating with the guys.

"He's starting to build his program.".

Lewis is just getting started.

He's working on laying a firm foundation. He's made some progress on the recruiting front. And he has a strong support system that includes Beausoleil, who's been an invaluable resource, and coaching friends like fellow Waterford graduate and current University of Saint Joseph coach Adam Goss.

He enjoys helping players reach their goals of playing at a higher level. Pitcher Liam Chamberlain (Bryant University) and pitcher James Ellis (St. Peter's) will play Division I next season.

He definitely has no regrets about his decision to change career paths.

"I just felt like baseball is where I was supposed to be," Lewis said. "I figured while I'm still young. If there was ever a time to do it, it was now. .. It's been great. I definitely feel I have a lot more purpose in doing what I'm doing now."

"... It's been a lot of fun and fulfilling for me. I'm certainly excited about the future and really looking forward to it."

g.keefe@theday.com