Coach Cannata steps down as Head Athletic Trainer after 38 years

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As the school year winds down for many students, the post season ramps up for KO’s varsity baseball team led by Head Coach Steve Cannata. While baseball is one of Coach Cannata’s passions, head coach is not the only hat he’s worn during his time at KO. 

In addition to leading the varsity baseball team, Coach Cannata has also been the head athletic trainer at KO for 38 years, and, for a period of time, the assistant athletic director. He has had an impressive career and has had a major impact on KO’s student athletes for decades. Although he’ll be retiring at the end of the school year, Coach Cannata plans to continue coaching baseball in the future. 

Coach Cannata explained that after working as an athletic trainer for 38 years, he is excited to take a step back and relax a bit. “I have no concrete plans,” he said, “just doing some of the things that I haven’t had the chance to do for the last however many years. Maybe some work around the house, traveling a bit.” 

At the heart of his job as both an athletic trainer and coach are really the athletes, who he said have made his experience at KO so special. He described how being able to work with athletes at different levels, in different sports, who are constantly cycling through KO, brought variety to his positions; and even though the athletes may all come from different backgrounds, he thinks it’s great to see them all working towards something bigger than themselves. “It’s seeing kids buy into what you’re trying to do and working hard for a common goal,” he said. “Going from the beginning of the season to the end of the season and seeing that progression is something you get some satisfaction out of.”

Assistant Coach Ryan Radmanovich, who has worked alongside Coach Cannata in the baseball program for the past nine years, described his experience with Coach Cannata. “When I first came to KO,” he said, “Steve was really quiet, as everyone knows, so he was a little tough to read early on. Through the years, though, I think he’s come out of his shell, and we’ve gotten really close. We’ve had a great run.” 

Coach Radmanovich explained that a lot of this bonding happens on the baseball team’s annual spring training trips to Florida. In addition to the escape from Connecticut’s cool March weather, the trips provide both coaches and players with an opportunity to get closer with one another. 

Junior Devin Wolff, who is also the baseball team’s starting pitcher, echoed similar sentiments about the team trip. The highlight of this year’s trip for him was getting to watch Coach Cannata bowl. 

As a two-sport varsity athlete, Devin also worked closely with Coach Cannata as an athletic trainer during basketball season. After spraining his ankle early in the season, Devin would see Coach Cannata to get tapped before every practice and game. Devin applauded Coach Cannata’s ability to replicate the tape job the exact same way each time and his conversation skills that keep athletes calm in situations that can be stressful. 

Coach Radmanovich said that having a coach who is also knowledgeable in athletic training has been very beneficial for the baseball team. “It’s really helped having a trainer along with a baseball coach because of arm care, which is very important,” he said. This maintenance is especially critical for pitchers like Devin. “Except of course when he has to go check on the other team during the game,” he said. 

Devin shared his gratitude for Coach Cannata. “I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for not only me, but my family,” he said. “He’s taped both my brother and my dad throughout their athletic careers at KO. I want to thank him on behalf of the whole community because he’s been here for so long and has been such a big part of KO athletics.” Devin added that he can’t wait for another great baseball season with Coach Cannata next year. 

Coach Radmanovich is also looking forward to working with Coach Cannata in the future but wishes him a happy semi-retirement. “I wish him the best in his golf game, now that he’ll have more time to work on his swing.”