Chris Pettee made a difference in the lives of the East Granby High School boys he led as a coach and a mentor. He impacted the community too, making the school’s boys soccer team a force to be reckoned with, creating a source of pride in East Granby and impressing parents and peers with his work ethic.
, Pettee turned a team that was often near the bottom of the rankings into a formidable unit that was in the playoffs more often than not during his four years at the school. More importantly, he guided the young men on his team, developing not only their soccer skills but their abilities in school and in life as well.
“He turned the whole system around,” said Joe Arsenault, whose son Tyler, a junior, played for Pettee. “A lot of these kids never had a coach like him.”
Arsenault said Pettee was an inspiration, teaching his players to be well-adjusted young men, nurturing them as students and players. He helped players looking to reach the next level of athletics and those who aspired to other goals as well.
“He embraced all these kids,” Arsenault said.
Other parents wholeheartedly agreed with Arsenault’s statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers for Chris and his family,” Manny Almagro told Granby-East Granby Patch on its Facebook page. “He was a tremendous young man who coached my son and was incredibly kind and helpful to him.”
Pettee displayed the value of hard work and a strong work ethic, Arsenault said, pointing out Pettee’s function as a mentor and older brother for many players on the team.
“He will truly be missed!” Alisa Bjork wrote to Granby-East Granby Patch. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Pettee family. My son Jonah is one of his seniors, he respected and looked up to [Coach] Pettee. He is deeply saddened by this horrible tragedy. Thank you Coach Pettee for the great job you did with our boys!”
“He taught them to develop their talents,” said East Granby superintendent Dr. Christine Mahoney, noting the multi-dimensional development that Pettee fostered in his charges. “He made quite a difference.”
Mahoney said Pettee has left an indelible mark on his players, the school and the town. She was quick to describe him as enthusiastic and dedicated to his team.
“He loved the game, he loved the kids,” Arsenault said.
Pettee, who grew up in Granby, had commuted more than 90 minutes each way to East Granby from Harrison, NY, for each and every practice, scrimmage and game since early 2011. Pettee was promoted from the New York Sports Club in West Hartford to its White Plains, NY location at that time, according to the Hartford Courant.
“Coach Pettee was old school,” Arsenault said.
Pettee had wonderful relationships with the team’s junior varsity coach, his players, East Granby’s athletic director and the school staff, Mahoney said.
“This is a tragic loss for the East Granby community, for his former school and his family,” she said.
East Granby High School mobilized its crisis team and offered grief counseling to students and staff alike Monday, Mahoney said. Arsenault said that that the community is coming together to support the team and each other, calling it one of the great things about living in a small town.