Portland High School athletic director Chris Serra. May 3, 2021
The bad news: The Portland athletics community will see less of him.
Serra, who’s been the athletic director since 2015 for Portland’s high school and middle schools, will let go of the reins after June 30.
In somewhat of a financial crunch because of costs tied to COVID-19, the district cut the AD job as solely an administrative role in the 2021-22 budget. The newly realized position, as other small schools have whipped up, is part teacher (in this case, three classes at Portland) plus the responsibilities of an AD (in this case, at two schools) as a stipend.
When given the choice of either that or working at the elementary level full-time, Serra chose to teach five classes in fifth-grade physical education and health at Valley View.
“My heart is in Portland and my heart is in athletics,” Serra said recently, “with these kids that bust their butts on the field and in the classroom. I’m not able to play this role (with athletics) in the capacity I’d want to, and it was a tough decision to take the step out of this role.”
Serra is married with two young children. The lure of a 40-hour work week amid some personal challenges was too sensible to pass up.
“On top of it, I can be there for my family,” he said. “I can be at a golf event or at a birthday party and not have to step out because a bus is late or it’s about to rain. The nights I’m around for athletics until nine o’clock, I miss putting the kids to bed. I’ve loved the job, but now I appreciate the blessings in my life, which is my wife and two kids.”
Serra tested positive for COVID-19 in November and was out of work until April 22. Injuries from a near-fatal two-car accident in 2008 became problematic during his recovery from the virus.
“There was a restriction of blood flow because of the scar tissue around my heart and lungs,” said Serra, who adds he feels about “90 percent” these days. “I needed breathing therapy.”
There were days when he thought long and hard about the challenges life has thrown at him, including the death of his father two years ago, and how he wanted to spend his time.
“The COVID scare, the accident, my father … it’s really put things in perspective,” he said. “It’s best for me and my family to take a step back at this time. I’ve gone through something tough, and Portland has always been there to support me. Now it’s time to support my family.”
Under Serra’s leadership, the Highlanders have won three state golf championships, Pequot Conference football titles from 2016-18 with their cooperative partnership with Cromwell, and Shoreline crowns in golf (2016) and most recently baseball (2019).
“I’m very proud of the work we have done,” he said. “We’ve won eight state and conference championships. We’ve put a lot of systems in place. We have a full-time athletics trainer and we’ve made the academic program more tedious for kids to stay on track between academics and athletics.
“I’m grateful to all of the people who have helped me. For a small school, having those championships means a lot.”
The district posted the job of “athletic coordinator” on Monday.
Serra also oversaw the creation and implementation of a coaches evaluation system; provided a “team of one” opportunity with the Rocky Hill girls swim program; created and implemented the class act student leadership committee; and started a grade 4-12 unified sports program.
Most important, he’s almost back to full health.
“I’m back to work. If I remain healthy, I can do anything,” Serra said. “We all have our trials and tribulations. It’s all about how you handle it and move forward. Thankfully, I have people around me personally and professionally that helped me be able to get back to work.”
Serra said he was out at the driving range recently with his 5-year-old son, Brayden. While explaining the difference between a baseball swing and an actual golf swing there came a moment of clarity.
“My son loves golf. He even loves to watch golf on TV,” Serra said. “It would be a breath of fresh air to be the father for my children that my father was for me and my brother. This is what life is. If I don’t have time to spend in these moments, (fatherhood) is all going to get lost. I want my son to know the man my father was for me.”
Please go to GametimeCT.com High School Sports to read full article.