WOODBRIDGE >> The kids, the coaches and countless friendships are what Paul Mengold most treasures from a lifetime spent as a high school teacher and administrator at Amity Regional.
So it’s hardly a surprise that the fondest memories from his four decades on the job center around the success others.
“All of the championships, be it New England, state, league or division,” Mengold said Thursday. “Those are what stick out most in my mind. It’s been great to watch those kids celebrate.”
Earlier this week, Mengold informed the school board he plans to retire after over 38 years in the school system, the past 30 as athletic director. Three decades has produced plenty of championships at Amity, a model athletic program which developed into one of the state’s best under Mengold’s watch.
The number of banners hanging in the school gymnasium, quite frankly, is astounding.
Since 1983, Amity athletics has won two New England titles and 45 state championships. There are 122 league championships, culled between the old Housatonic League and the Southern Connecticut Conference, a mega-conference Mengold helped found in 1994.
Throw in an additional 155 SCC Housatonic Division titles, 16 Connecticut coaches’ association coaches of the year, nine national high school coach of the year finalists, six Gatorade state players of the year and two Michaels Achievement Cups for athletic excellence, and there’s a real case to be made for Amity as one of the premier programs in Connecticut.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” Mengold said. “The coaches and kids are the ones who put in so much time and effort. All of our success is on them. And I’m proud of them all.”
Mengold earned his reputation as one of the state’s most dedicated, knowledgeable and productive athletic directors for a reason. He’s won awards, chaired numerous boards and served nearly every committee under the sun on the district, state and national levels.
Among his most impressive achievements is assisting in the creation of the SCC, a massive undertaking which merged a conglomeration of urban, suburban and prep schools centered in and around Greater New Haven into a national model of success.
“I think he’s one of the most influential people in Connecticut high school sports in the last 20 years,” said SCC commissioner Al Carbone. “He’s one of the most informed on high school athletic issues, be they legal issues or kid issues. Personally, he’s one of the people I go to whenever I have an idea or need a sounding board. He commands a lot of respect in meeting rooms because he’s been there. He’s one of the pillars of our league.”
Mengold’s first teaching job came at Amity in 1976, shortly after his graduation from Sacred Heart University. For 24 years he taught business at the high school, 16 of them while simultaneously serving as athletic director. In 2000, with Amity sports booming, he was allowed to focus his full attention on athletics.
During his tenure, athletic program offerings grew from 35 teams to its current 85. He personally coached or assisted girls’ and boys’ basketball, softball and Unified Sports basketball. Mengold estimates he’s attended some 5,000 high school games over the last 38 years.
The program has not only grown by leaps and bounds since the mid-80s, but the all-around success of those teams has exploded.
“I’ve always felt I was very blessed to have someone as professional as him as my athletic director,” said Sal Coppola, an athlete at Amity and, for the past 20 years, the school’s baseball coach. “He set the standard for Amity coaches. The level of professionalism he brings as an AD is the same as he expects from his coaches. It starts at the top, and he played a big part in the success of the sports teams at our school.”
His true legacy at Amity runs deeper. The bonds created over the years are innumerable. Mengold cherishes them all. The respect is mutual.