In a somewhat surprising move with historical implications, Jamar Greene was named the new head football coach at Stamford High School on Thursday morning.
The appointment came after Greene had a final interview with the school’s principal, Dr. Donna Valentine, and athletic director, Jim Moriarty.
Greene is not well known outside of Stamford. He was the offensive coordinator at Westhill last season, which would have had its first winning season in 26 years if not for forfeiting its first four victories for using an ineligible player.
Greene is also the first black head football coach ever at Stamford, Westhill or Trinity Catholic, the city’s three FCIAC members.
“That really means a lot to me,” said the 36-year-old Greene, who teaches language arts at Cloonan Middle School and was a wide receiver and cornerback for the Black Knights before graduating in 1995. “I know outside of Stamford people are going to say “Who is he?” But I’ve had a lot of support from the community and I am ready to accept the challenge.”
After a 2-0 start, Stamford lost its final eight games last year and was 15-14 in three seasons under Bryan Hocter, who resigned in December.
Hocter was one of many people who wrote letters of recommendation on behalf of Greene, who was selected by a six-person committee from a field that started with over 20 applicants and was whittled down to seven who received interviews and then three finalists, including two current FCIAC assistant coaches.
Greene spent the two seasons prior to Westhill as the freshmen coach at Stamford High School, where he had a record of 17-2. In a statistic telling of the state of the Black Knights’ program, Greene said 53 of those players, who will be seniors and juniors next year, are no longer with the team, for a majority of reasons, including substandard grades.
Hocter said he started last season with 61 players and lost 19 by the time of the season-ending game against Westhill.
“I hope to get a majority of them back into the program to be successful the next few years,” Greene said. “One of the first priorities is to see the kids back on the playing fields. I want kids to take pride not just in football, but with their education.
Moriarty, who is in his first year as athletic director after over three decades as the school’s boys basketball coach, said at the time of Hocter’s resignation that returning Stamford football to its glory days of four decades ago was a self-imposed mandate.
“He’s a graduate of the program and he is a teacher,” Moriarty said of Greene. “I know he is going to put a terrific program in place for football and academics. He was very, very impressive during the interviews, and to be honest it wasn’t an easy choice because the other two people had a lot of experience. The process was rigorous.”
Moriarty is aware this could be the most important hiring move he will have to make, and wanted someone who will provide the team with stability and consistency from the top.
“We are looking at someone to be involved with the program for a number of years,” Moriarty said.
Prior to his stint as a Stamford assistant, Greene was a head coach for both the Rippowam and Dolan Middle School teams, which serves as feeder programs for the high school. Greene is hoping to cultivate his relationships to develop a self-perpetuating system.
“For me, being a pillar in the community, I have a lot of ties to the players and people in the community,” Greene said. “I have a history with kids, and one of the things that is going to motivate me is to get into the hallways and get the kids to come out.”
Greene said he plans to hold a team meeting on Monday and to start putting together a coaching staff, which he said could include several of Hocter’s former assistants.
“I want to surround myself with the best possible people,” Greene said. “I’m going to approach some people from the previous regime about returning. I think this is going to take some time. It all depends how many kids come out and what shape they are in. That’s the unknown. It is going to take a lot of work but I still think we can surprise some people. But I am looking at long term success as opposed to the immediate.”