Reproduced with permission of Johnny J. Burnham – Staff Writer
BRISTOL — University of Connecticut football coach Paul Pasqualoni’s words echoed throughout the auditorium inside Bristol Eastern High School Wednesday night. But his message was crystal clear.
The new coach of the Huskies simply said, whether it be on the field, in the classroom or carrying out routine day-to-day tasks, it’s having the willingness to do everything to the best of one’s ability, the desire to strive to get better and having the drive to always become a smarter individual that truly lays the foundation for success.
Those things, he said, are the same traits of a “Level Five” leader.
“Level Five is the highest level of individual leadership that we can have, regardless of whether it’s an athletic team, regardless of if you’re a coach and regardless of if you’re a CEO of some major corporation,” Pasqualoni said during the event put on by the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame. “Level Five has all the attributes. They’re outstanding people, they have a combination of outstanding personal humility and what sets them apart is there intense inner-will to succeed. These are the type of people who’s will cannot be broken.”
The lower four branches on Pasqualoni’s leadership tree all encompass some of the traits found in a top-tier leader, but not the whole package.
Contrary to what many believe, one doesn’t have to be the biggest, strongest, fastest or even the most vocal player on the team to be that ultimate leader. The head honcho of UConn football said leaders come in all shapes and sizes. However, he added, there’s common threads that tie them together — they’re disciplined, they possess a positive attitude, they avoid unnecessary criticism, they lead by example and they put their teammates and the others around them above all else.
“These are rare individuals,” Pasqualoni said. “Here’s what I know about Level Five leadership. Level Five leadership is required to transform a good team into a great team, or into a state championship team or a conference championship team. You cannot do it without outstanding leadership on your team. It can’t happen.”
Pasqualoni said he looks for these type of individuals when he’s out on the recruiting trail. Without them, he said, UConn football will never be able to fully blossom into an elite Division I program.
Pasqualoni took the UConn job after Randy Edsall left the Huskies for the same position at the University of Maryland.
Edsall announced his departure just a day after UConn played in its first-ever BCS Bowl game. Twelve days later, Pasqualoni, who at the time was serving as the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, was appointed the 28th coach in program history.
He’s certainly happy to be back in the Nutmeg State.
“I’m proud to say that I’m from Connecticut. I’ve spent a lot of great years in this state coaching,” he said. “This state is made up of outstanding, hardworking people.”
Paqualoni is a native of Cheshire. He coached at Cheshire High as well as both Southern Connecticut and Western Connecticut state universities before spending 14 years as the head coach at Syracuse.
Bristol Sports Hall of Fame President Dave Mills was thrilled to have him speak to the area’s student-athletes.
“Over the years, we’ve had these program and have had speakers come in and they’ve been very well received,” Mills said. “We’re very fortunate to have coach Pasqualoni speak.”
Previous speakers at the BSHOF function include Jim Calhoun, Dan Doule, Lou Holtz, Bob Hurley, Joe Erhman and Shea Ralph.
Each of those speakers has been able to find the thing the coach of UConn football believes everyone is in search of; a thing that money simply can’t buy — achievement.
That’s something that doesn’t just fall into one’s lap. Achievement is the direct result of hard work and dedication.
“It doesn’t happen by accident, I promise you. It happens only one way, and that’s by working at it,” he said. “Money in life can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy achievement, I know that for sure. It can’t buy the conference championship and you can’t buy your way into the state championship game.”By Johnny J. Burnham