High School Coach
Long before the gymnasium at Bacon Academy was named in his honor, Dave Shea was a proud graduate of the school and its first 1,000-point scorer in boys’ basketball. Shea, still a resident of Colchester, went on to honor his alma mater by winning 778 games and three state championships over 49 seasons coaching first the boys’ basketball team, then the girls.
“The town of Colchester has been great to me,” Shea said during his career. “They gave me the opportunity to teach and coach all of these years and I don’t take it for granted.”
A 1952 Bacon Academy grad, Shea coached the boys’ basketball team from 1962-85, amassing a record of 329-168, including the 1981 Class S championship. Beginning in 1993, Shea coached the girls’ basketball program to a 449-140 record over 25 seasons with state championships in 2009 (Class M) and 2012 (Class L). Shea joined Bill Reagan (St. Thomas Aquinas boys, Old Saybrook girls) as the second coach in Connecticut history with titles on both the boys’ and girls’ sides.
Shea coached his granddaughter Katie Mahoney, the 2011 Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year and the program’s all-time leading scorer, and also coached granddaughter Caitlin Shea in her freshman and sophomore seasons prior to his retirement.
He was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame in 2004, to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and was awarded a Gold Key by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance in 2012. He also won more than 300 games as the Bobcats’ varsity baseball coach — Shea once signed a pro baseball contract with the Philadelphia Athletics before his career was cut short by injury — giving him 300 or more wins in three different sports.
Shea is a UConn graduate who taught for 37½ years at Bacon Academy, moving from the science department to guidance and later physical education, where he served as athletic director. Bacon honored him with the naming of Dave Shea Gymnasium in February, 2000, while he was still coaching.
He will be presented as a member of the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame by former Masuk coach Dave Strong, the state’s all-time wins leader.
“Before I took the girls’ job, I talked to Pete Shuler (former Westbrook coach) — he coached both boys and girls — and he said don’t change anything you’re doing basketball-wise for the girls,” Shea said. “Basketball is basketball whether you’re coaching boys or girls. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to coach both.”
“It’s special,” said Shea’s son, John, who played for his father and also followed him as Bacon’s girls’ basketball coach. “He’s the rock star of it all. It’s fun to think about his career and all the people he’s helped.”