Beloved Berlin High School wrestling coach dies

BERLIN, Conn. (WTNH) — For 36 seasons, Jim Day poured his heart and soul into the Berlin High School wrestling program, turning it into a powerhouse in Connecticut high school wrestling. But, to his athletes, he was more than just a coach into winning.

“Coach Day meant a ton to me as a teacher as a coach,” said Zach Veleas, one of Coach Day’s former wrestlers. “He shaped me into the man I am today — definitely a huge part in teaching me discipline, respect and he was constantly able to bring out the best in people.”

Coach Day was enjoying his 36th season as the wrestling coach at Berlin High. He won many state titles over the years. Zach spent part of this day looking at old pictures, reminiscing.

“It’s hard for me,” Zach said.  “It’s hard.”

Zach and his father shined under Coach Day. Zach’s two younger brothers are current wrestlers — also excelling on Coach Day’s team. This morning, the school district made sure the team met with crisis counselors to help them cope with the loss of their beloved coach. The Superintendent of Berlin Public Schools says during that meeting, a couple of teammates stood up  in a way that would’ve made Coach Day proud.

“Very impressed with two of the wrestlers in particular,” said Superintendent Brian Benigni. “They really stepped forward.”

Coach Day died Thursday. He had been admitted to The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain after falling ill for a few days. He was 64 years old.

If Zach could have one last conversation with his old coach, he says it would start with this:

“Thank you,” Zach said.

This weekend, at the wrestling state championships in New Haven, Coach Day will be remembered in a moment of silence and his players — past and present — will all get the chance to say thank you as part of a tribute dedicated to the coach who taught them so much.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s