NEW BRITAIN - It didnâ€™t take Joe Granja, Goodwin Techâ€™s athletic director, long to make a decision.
With Paul Soucy deciding to retire after four seasons, leaving the program in need of a head coach and with the school year just a week away, Granja knew who he wanted for the position. In steps Cristina Stisser.
â€śIt was an easy choice [hiring Stisser],â€ť Granja said. â€śCristina, first and foremost, is a great teacher. She was our schoolâ€™s 2017 Teacher of the Year. She works hard to get the most out of her students and will do the same with her student-athletes.â€ť
Stisser has been a part of the Goodwin Tech faculty for the last six years as a mechanical design and engineering teacher. Prior to that, she taught at Oliver Wolcott Tech High School in Torrington.
Stisser has an accomplished sports background as well. She graduated from Kaynor Tech in Waterbury, and while there, she was a three-sport athlete earning All-State, All-City, and All-League in volleyball, basketball, and softball.
â€śI have also coached girls basketball and softball and I am thrilled about coaching volleyball for the Gladiators,â€ť Stisser said.
After Goodwin Techâ€™s successful 2017 season, where the team went 18-6 during the regular season and earned a first round bye in the Class S state tournament, the Gladiators are expected to be contenders once again.
â€śWe lost a large group of key players last season,â€ť Stisser said. â€śFive seniors total, so we will be asking new players to step up into some big roles this year. So far in this preseason the girls are buying into what Iâ€™m teaching, but Iâ€™m looking forward to getting in the gym and to have them start playing.â€ť
Three of the five seniors from last yearâ€™s class were starters including all-conference players Leina Rivera and Tanija Russell.
As a new coach, Stisser will have her fair share of challenges, but is excited about the possibilities for Goodwin Tech this season.
â€śThe influx of potential talented new players, combined with the experience and accomplishments of our returners could result in an explosive season,â€ť Stisser said. â€śI am hoping we have some great team chemistry. The quicker we jell together, the more success we will have. I believe that anytime you begin with that foundation, the skill set and talent will only enhance that. I also believe for us to continue our success this year we will need to find some leadership from somewhere within our roster. I would love to take the Gladiators to the championship this year.â€ť
The Goodwin Tech players have been receptive to the change and are eager to get back on the court to get back to the CTC Championship.
â€śTheyâ€™re buying into what my goals are for the team this season and the direction we will take moving forward,â€ť Stisser said. â€śThey have already asked me if I could help them get to the championship this year. I'm eager to get the season started so that I can learn a lot more about each of the players and what this group is capable of doing.â€ť
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or email@example.com