the aviator way


Meet coach

Chris Donlin, founder and head coach of the Cheshire Aviators, has been involved in baseball his entire life. As a young child, Chris spent his early years playing wiffle ball in the yard with his brother, running the base lines his dad mowed in the grass, and bouncing the ball off of the wall for hours, trying to make diving plays like the ones he saw on TV.

Chris started playing organized baseball at the age of 6 – in a local T-ball league. Things were different back then – no one even thought to start their child in sports at the age of 4 or 5 like they do now! Chris moved on to “minor leagues” which was a coach pitch / pitching machine league at 7 and 8 and at 9, Chris was one of the few players to move up to Little League. Little League progressed to Junior and Senior Legion, and Middle School baseball progressed to JV and Varsity. Chris ended his high school career as an All-Conference Centerfielder, leading his team in hits, home runs, stolen bases and just about every other major statistic. Chris played one year at The College of Saint Rose before injuries put an end to his playing career. Chris was also an All-Conference Soccer player in high school, winning Most Valuable Player awards as well as Most Improved Player awards on a highly successful high school team, as well as winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in Basketball as a senior. Of all his accomplishments, Chris holds the Defensive Player of the Year award as one of his favorites because it represented a willingness to do what the team needed – guard the best player – instead of worrying about scoring. The team was a success.

Once Chris returned after his freshman year of college, he was approached by the local umpires to join their ranks. Chris did three years of umpiring in New York prior to moving to Connecticut, where he completed another 8 years with the Greater New Haven Baseball Umpires Association. Chris umpired over 1000 youth games in Connecticut, ranging in age from 8 year olds to the college ranks and everything in between. During that same period of time, Chris began coaching basketball for Hamden Fathers, first in the 15-17 year old league in 2010 where he still coaches and serves as the Director, and also in the 11-12 and 13-14 year old divisions. Chris currently serves as the Vice President of Boys Basketball for Hamden Fathers and has done so for five years.

Chris has served as a coach of T-ball level baseball for four seasons as well as coaching in an 8U program for one season. He also served as Commissioner of a local T-Ball organization for two years. His passion for teaching the love of the game has led to most of his players returning each year.

Chris is a father of four and is married to his patient and supportive wife Sharalynn. He is a self-employed attorney in Hamden, Connecticut and has owned his own law practice since 2010. As a father, Chris has learned first-hand that every child is different – first born sons are different then second born sons, introverted children learn different then extroverted ones, and sometimes a 6 year old can have a bad day for some of the strangest reasons! Coaching is like parenting in that we have to learn about our kids, and resist a one size fits all approach. We have to understand when to push, when to encourage, when someone needs a hug or when someone simply isn’t having a good day and may need a reset. Most importantly, Chris believes that as a coach – his job is to teach his players to be lifelong learners and lovers of baseball.

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