FAIRFIELD >> Fairfield Prep boys lacrosse coach Chris Smalkais is enjoying coaching more than ever these days and the main reason is having his son Colin, a sophomore midfielder, on the Jesuits’ roster.
Looking back, Chris Smalkais reflects on how close this special time in his life might have slipped by.
In 2001, Fairfield Prep had a heart-breaking 6-5 loss in three overtimes to New Canaan in the CIAC Division I tournament championship game. The CIAC had a Division I and II format back then and didn’t go to a Class L-M-S format until 2006.
After the loss, Smalkais figured he had enough of coaching high school lacrosse and was planning on retiring. But as some time passed in the off-season and the frustration of the bitter loss subsided, he decided to coach just one more season and that would be the last. The 2002 season ended and he said to himself “I’ll do it one more season.”
And then one more and one more until he blinked and before he knew it his son was old enough – and good enough – to play for the Jesuits.
“It’s funny,” Smalkais said. “When we lost that championship in 2001, Colin was only 3 years old and I really thought I’d stop coaching. At the time, I never thought about Colin ever playing lacrosse for Fairfield Prep. I just kept saying ‘I’ll stay another year and another year.’
“By 2008, Colin was playing youth lacrosse and it was at that point I decided to stay in it to coach him at Prep. It has become very interesting for me because I always looked at our school as a coach, not as a parent of a child in the school and on my team. I’m appreciating the value of the entire Fairfield Prep school experience these days.”
Colin Smalkais couldn’t be happier that his dad decided to stay and coach the Jesuits. Being a part of the team has always been one of his goals.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Colin said. “I grew up with lacrosse all my life and I’ve worked hard to get to this point. I loved the sport the moment I started playing it and it’s become my favorite thing to do. Winning a (CIAC Class L) championship my freshman year last year was a great experience.”
Colin considers his 6-foot-1 size and his athleticism his greatest assets as a player. On a team whose play is usually dominated by upperclassmen, Colin said he is the seventh middie on the team and it depends on the game whether he gets to see any action. He has five goals and an assist this season.
Colin said he gets a lot of support and help from his teammates. And dad said there is no favoritism when it comes to his son Colin.
“If Colin wasn’t good enough to play, he wouldn’t be playing here, no favoritism here,” said Chris, in his 26th season as coach. He has a 374-145 career record at Prep. “But as I saw him play and as I coached him in youth lacrosse, I thought he developed into a player who could play for us. He’s got room for growth and he’s no where near a tremendous player yet. But on a program led by upperclassmen, he’s been able to do some good things. When he makes mistakes he hears about it.”
Another sport Colin Smalkais loves to play is ice hockey. He played on the Prep junior varsity team last season.
“Colin has always had three goals at Prep,” Chris Smalkais said. “He wanted to be a good student, play varsity lacrosse and play varsity hockey. He’s accomplished the first two goals. Having coached him on the youth level in both sports, I know he’ll work as hard as he can to reach that third goal.
“Coaching Colin has been a wonderful experience for me. But the biggest reward for me is seeing him interact with the players on the team. Some teammates have become real role models for him.”
Colin said it’s been a great experience playing for his dad at Prep.
“If you know my dad, you know that he always talks about lacrosse and every two or three sentences he mentions something about lacrosse,” Colin said. “We always talk about our games on our ride home after a game. But I love talking lacrosse with my dad because the benefit of your dad being the coach is you’re always learning things from a coach’s perspective.”