Shea’s experience as player, coach a staple for decades
Mike Neville – Sports Writer
From his early years as a successful student athlete at Southern to head coach, Tim Shea’s time at the university spans more than three decades.
“I came here to Southern and played under my mentor Coach Joe Bandiera,” said Shea. “I was at first-base my freshman year and then moved over to short-stop after that.”
Under the guidance of Bandiera, Shea was able to make the transition from assistant coach to head coach very smoothly.
“It is not much different on who I am working with. He allowed me to handle team travel, basic needs of team that you need to be knowledgeable in, so he allowed me to do a lot,” said Shea.
He was a special education major, although the long-term goal was to always become a baseball coach.
“I knew teaching would allow me the opportunity to coach. Everyone dreams about playing at the next level, but I was pretty realistic and wanted to make sure I was in a profession that would allow me to coach,” said Shea.
Prior to becoming a full-time coach, Shea had worked in the Milford school systems as a special education teacher, football and baseball coach.
On May 1, 2019, Shea became the winningest coach in the program’s history when he captured his 467th vs. Saint Rose.
Current assistant coach Ed Bethke is a former pitcher Shea coached when he was a student. He attributed much of his success in baseball to Shea.
“As a student athlete, I built a very good rapport with him. He is very open and honest, authentic with everything, so it has been a big learning curve but accessibility to have him has been a huge asset for me,” said Bethke.
After his time as an Owl ended, Bethke took a head coaching job at Branford High School. When Shea came calling for him to become part of his coaching staff, the decision was easy.
“Through dialogue that we’ve had, the opportunity came around and when he offered the job to me. It was an instant yes and I’ve been here since fall of 2015,” said Bethke.
Besides being a coach and mentor, the biggest accomplishment for Shea was getting to the College World Series in 2006 and 2011.
He said that he has used his experience in the big game and stage scenarios as a teaching moment for himself and his players.
“It is not an easy thing. We utilize the path as a learning experience to get us where we want to be,” said Shea.
Entering his 20th year as the Owls head coach, in addition to watching his team win games and be successful, the best result is what his players do later in life.
“Seeing players graduate, move onto their professional lives and have families has always been enjoyable for me to be a part of their success,” said Shea.
Catcher Michael DeMartino, who is entering his sixth season under the watchful eye of Shea, is one of those individuals he has seen grow. DeMartino gave great praise to his head coach.
“He’s one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever played for. Every day it is something new with him,” said DeMartino. “He is hard working and has a really good game plan.”
Compared to other coaches he has had throughout his baseball career, the one thing DeMartino said stands out about Shea is his team organization.
“When it comes down to practices, games and rituals, I commend him on that. He has made me a better player in all walks of the game,” said DeMartino.
A day in the life for Shea involves much preparation during the week leading up to games.
With COVID-19 still present in 2021, the handling of practices and games has been different.
“Normally in season, I start my day at 7:45 a.m. head into the office checking emails, phone calls and getting prepared for the practice plan later in the afternoon,” said Shea. “Some days we have lifting in the mornings, some days we don’t, so it’s a pretty packed schedule.”
With over a decade of coaching the Owls, the routine for Shea has remained consistent throughout is tenure.
The next level from college being the Major League level, anything is fair game regarding the future for Shea although his loyalty runs deep.
“I don’t think you ever shut the door on that, keep the window slightly cracked. I’ve been here the better part of five decades. If I haven’t left, I am probably not going to,” said Shea.
When it is all said and done, Shea said he wants to look back on his career as making a positive contribution to the Owls.
“I hope to be remembered as a teacher and a mentor who was there for his players,” said Shea. “Not just the baseball side of things, but as a person also.”
Shea will lead the Owls into their first game of the season in over a year at Saint Anselm College.