Former UConn football assistant dreamed big, but is happy coaching at the high school level

AVON — Jon Wholeley is surrounded by the stone walls of a tiny classroom that looks like a dungeon but has the feel of something more charming as he sits at a desk and discusses his vision for the curriculum. football from Avon Old Farms.

There are books on the shelves: calculus, algebra, Latin. Here he teaches mathematics. Here, too, he conducts football meetings and breaks down films. This room, on the ground floor of a building erected in 1927, is the epicenter of Wholey’s new professional life, a life derailed by circumstances and the pandemic in 2020 — a life reinvented since.

Wholey, 39, was named the AOF’s standby coach last spring and led much of the program’s day-to-day operations through the 2021 season, when the team won a Nova Scotia bowl championship. England – the NEPSAC Kevin Driscoll Bowl – for the first time. Driscoll, the school’s former coach from 1985 to 2013, had returned as interim coach to fill a void following the departure of Pierce Brennan.

Wholey is now in place, officially, running a program on the kind of campus he knows from an outside perspective.

Former UConn running back and Huskies assistant coach Jon Wholeley is officially in place as Avon Old Farms football coach after spending a year as a standby coach.  Wholey, a college assistant since graduating from UConn in 2004, was a standout player at Southington High.

Former UConn running back and Huskies assistant coach Jon Wholeley is officially in place as Avon Old Farms football coach after spending a year as a standby coach. Wholey, a college assistant since graduating from UConn in 2004, was a standout player at Southington High.

Jon Wholeley/Added Photo

A standout player at Southington High, Wholey was a running back at UConn and an assistant coach at his alma mater three times. With stints on staff at Central Connecticut, Fordham, and Mississippi State, Wholey spent more than 15 years living the nomadic life of a college assistant coach, with countless recruiting visits to the campuses of public high schools like Southington and private preparatory schools like Old Farms.

“I always dreamed of being the head coach of UConn or Notre Dame or the New York Giants,” Wholey said. “It’s become that for me. I’m not pushed for status. I’m determined to be successful for my family and my players, and I’ve had a lot of experiences that benefit the kids I coach. I’ve been through a lot of things that they want to go through.

“My goal is to help every kid – if they’re good enough to play JV or if they’re good enough to play Alabama. I want them to have the skills to be successful not just in the next four years, but the next 40.

Wholey left Randy Edsall’s UConn staff before the 2019 season to become an assistant under Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State. When Moorhead was fired after the season, Wholey moved back to Connecticut with his wife, Carly, a nurse who also grew up in Southington and attended UConn, and sons Lucas, now 6, and Tyler, 3. .

“I stayed home with my two kids and my wife went to work full time,” Wholey said. “I say I was the director of family operations. I’ve worked jobs where it was over 80 hours a week and it was by far the hardest job I’ve ever had.

Former UConn running back and Huskies assistant coach Jon Wholeley is officially in place as Avon Old Farms football coach after spending a year as a standby coach.  Wholey, a college assistant since graduating from UConn in 2004, was a standout player at Southington High.

Former UConn running back and Huskies assistant coach Jon Wholeley is officially in place as Avon Old Farms football coach after spending a year as a standby coach. Wholey, a college assistant since graduating from UConn in 2004, was a standout player at Southington High.

Jon Wholeley/Added Photo

On March 11, 2020, the day Rudy Gobert became the NBA’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, triggering a sports world shutdown, Wholey interviewed Bill Belichick for a vacant spot on the Patriots staff. This position was quickly frozen.

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