Brass City Brews' Veronneau new Watertown Football Coach

Crosby assistant replaces Ouellette in Watertown as football coach
WATERTOWN — As a high school senior at Crosby in 1999, Mike Veronneau aspired to be a head football coach. More than a decade later, Veronneau’s wish has come true. On Monday, the offensive coordinator for Crosby for six years, was named to succeed Watertown High head coach Roger Ouellette, who retired after 19 seasons. Veronneau, 29, now a Watertown resident, was among 26 applicants and five finalists.
Looking over the Watertown football complex Monday, Veronneau felt at ease, just hours after learning of his appointment from Superintendent of Schools Karen Baldwin and meeting with Principal Matthew Geary. “I am now a hometown boy,” said Veronneau. “This is where I live, this is where I will continue to live and this is where I will continue to build this program. Roger left the program in a very good place. “As an opposing player and coach, I felt Watertown always supported their athletics wholeheartedly, win or lose,” added Veronneau. “They always stood behind their team on Friday nights and even more so now with the turf field.”
With conditioning practice set to begin just 16 days from today, Veronneau doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare. Veronneau hopes to meet by the end of the week with the estimated 30 varsity players, including two-year starting quarterback Matt Quatrano. “I am truly appreciative and honored by this opportunity,” said Veronneau. “I’ve been watching game tapes the past three or four weeks since the interview process began and am aware of the personnel returning and the players’ abilities. We already have a really good start. I am really excited to get going.”
Veronneau plans to meet soon with the coaching staff, parents, athletes, alumni and Watertown Gridiron Club. “I want to make a good first impression as many times as possible,” he said. “They need to get to know me.” When asked about the multiple tasks immediately in front of him, Veronneau said, “I think you have to be (relaxed). You handle things through organization and time management and through hard work, all of the things needed to be successful. If you are dedicated, you can get through whatever obstacle that is in front of you and you can conquer it.” Veronneau attended Southington High as a freshman before moving to Waterbury to begin his sophomore year.
Reflecting back on Veronneau’s senior year at Crosby, ex-head coach Bob Arciero noted that Veronneau unexpectedly became the Bulldogs’ quarterback, moving over from wide receiver, where he had been projected as a All-State selection. Mike took a beating at quarterback, but never once complained,” noted Arciero. “He said he would do whatever it took to help the team. I always knew he would be a great coach from the way he relates so well with kids. They will follow him like the Pied Piper.” As a junior for the Bulldogs’ 1998 Class L state championship basketball team, Veronneau’s impact was measured more by his leadership than the number of points and rebounds he had. “We all called him the ‘Ice Man,’ because Mike always seemed to come up big in crucial situations, whether you needed a basket or a defensive stop,” noted Crosby basketball coach Nick Augelli. “You could use him at any time because he played so hard, was so clutch and so intense. You never had to yell at him for a lack of effort.
“More than anything else,” added Augelli, “Mike’s enthusiasm for working with kids will make him a great head coach. He can nurture kids along in the classroom and on the field.” Veronneau also was a four-year starter for Crosby’s baseball team under ex-coach Don Mancuso. “Even though I played three sports, and I had opportunities to play baseball in college, football was always my true love,” noted Veronneau. Veronneau played three seasons of football at St. Anselm College before transferring to Central Connecticut, where he graduated with a degree in history and education in 2005. While at Central, Veronneau joined Arciero’s staff as a volunteer. He became the offensive coordinator in 2005, Arciero’s final season as head coach, and remained in that capacity in 2006 when Jason Martinez succeeded Arciero.
From Arciero, Veronneau said, he learned about discipline and accountability. Augelli taught him about being organized and getting the most out of his players, while Mancuso instilled in him the value of treating players the way you want to be treated. His coach at St. Anselm, Jonathan Michaeles, “taught me everything about philosophies and X’s and O’s,” said Veronneau. “He conveyed everything so easily to me and I owe him a lot.”
Mike Veronneau
Age: 29
High School: Crosby, 1999, three-sport captain
Colleges: St. Anselm, Central Connecticut, 2005
Residence: Watertown
Occupation: history teacher at Crosby for six years
Coaching experience: offensive coordinator for five seasons at Crosby and part of the coaching staff for eight years