In becoming the junior varsity baseball coach at Cheshire High School last year, Alex LeFevre recalls having a conversation with Head Coach Mike Lussier.
“Early on coaching with Luss, he asked how it was going and what my goals were in coaching,” reflected LeFevre. “I said that I wanted to be head coach of this program one day. He said that it was an awesome goal to have.”
While reaching his goal earlier than expected, LeFevre is excited for the opportunity to lead the Rams next spring. On Sept. 29, CHS announced that Lussier was stepping down to spend more time with his family. Just 22 days later, LeFevre was promoted from varsity assistant to Cheshire head coach.
“It feels awesome,” stated LeFevre. “I was really excited with how the decision shook out.”
The coaching news broke on the same day as his birthday.
“I got so many messages and calls from people congratulating me,” reflected LeFevre.
“He is a great addition to our coaching staff,” added CHS Athletic Director Steve Trifone. “He did a nice job as an assistant coach. Mike Lussier really endorsed him as a coach. Alex also relates well to our kids and knows the sport very well.”
Recently, LeFevre held a team meeting to talk about the upcoming season.
“We had a great turnout,” said LeFevre. “It was great to see some prospective freshmen players.”
LeFevre is becoming just the fourth coach to lead the CHS baseball team. Burt Leventhal coached from 1970-97, while Bill Mrowka led from 1998-2018.
Lussier served as head coach for the last four years.
“That (legacy) means that the coaches have done a lot in the community to be able to stay here,” explained LeFevre. “They did a good job building relationships with the players.”
Like his predecessors, he wants to stick around and build the program.
“This isn’t a one-year plan with me,” said LeFevre. “My wife and I just had a 1-year-old daughter, so we are planting roots here.”
LeFevre feels that Lussier leaves big shoes as a coach. A 1984 CHS graduate and former baseball player, Lussier joined the staff in 1997.
He helped the Rams win the 2018 Class LL crown, as well as contributing to the program’s first two Southern Connecticut Conference titles (2011, 2019). After Mrowka retired four years ago, Lussier was promoted to head coach and led Cheshire to a 41-26 record.
“Coaching with Luss was great,” reflected LeFevre. “He did a really good job of building relationships with the players. He was great at getting to know them on a personal level and helping with college decisions.”
After the pandemic canceled the 2020 season, LeFevre was excited to become the JV coach in 2021.
“It was a good experience,” recalled LeFevre. “I got my wet feet and learned that side of the baseball program.”
In the spring of this year, he coached on the varsity level with Lussier.
“I learned a lot from him,” stated LeFevre. “He was 72 degrees and sunny (with his temperament), while I was hotter. He helped me with tempering my emotions and not getting too upset about things that happened.”
In reflection, LeFevre has been around the game of baseball for as long as he can remember in Connecticut. He joined Mansfield Little League and played at E.O. Smith High School.
“I love that the game requires you to overcome failure and deal with success,” explained LeFevre. “There are so many things that people don’t realize about baseball, including the adjustments you need to make during games.”
While he disliked running growing up, LeFevre found a niche playing behind the plate.
“The catcher is the most important position,” stated LeFevre. “They can see all of their teammates and have to be a leader on the field.”
For E.O. Smith, he was team captain and MVP in his final two seasons. He also shined in ice hockey.
For college, LeFevre helped University of Connecticut Avery Point baseball win a pair of regional championships. He contributed to his team reaching the 2013 Junior College (JUCO) World Series.
Next, LeFevre transferred to the UConn main campus. After taking a red shirt season, LeFevre played two seasons for Huskies Head Coach Tom Penders.
To end his career in 2017, he received the Mrs. Mary Dropo Unsung Hero Award.
“I was fortunate to play for some great coaches,” recalled LeFevre. “Roger Bidwell is an accomplished coach with over 1,000 victories (at UConn Avery Point). I think Coach Penders is the premier coach in New England.”
When he was looking to get into high-school coaching, he approached former UConn teammates Max Slade and Connor David to see if they had connections at CHS. As seniors in 2011, Slade and David co-captained the Cheshire baseball team.
Before coming to CHS last year, LeFevre had only coached on the Amateur Athletic Union level.
“AAU is more of the developmental side,” said LeFevre. “Everyone is going to get to show what they can do.”
Following two years as an assistant with the Rams, LeFevre feels that he is ready to lead the program. He has started talking to senior tri-captains Ryan Barbieri, Ryan Murphy, and Michael Simeone about the upcoming season, including community activities.
“The three captains are really awesome,” said LeFevre. “These are the guys that the team wants to lead them.”
Before stepping down this fall, LeFevre is happy that Lussier set up a tentative regular-season schedule and practice plan.
“He didn’t have to do that, but Luss wanted to leave the program in good standing,” stated LeFevre.
Along with LeFevre, Kevin and Vic Faggella will remain on the Rams coaching staff. After leading the freshmen team last year, they will move up to the JV level.
“Kevin and Vic Faggella do a great job with the sub-varsity athletes,” stated LeFevre. “We feel that it is important to show passion for what you do more than (doing the) X’s and O’s. Vic is a volunteer assistant, but he puts in as much effort as anyone else.”
LeFevre added that the team is looking for more coaches who love baseball and want the kids to have a positive experience. Within the program, he wants to create a competitive atmosphere for practices and games.
“Last season, we had an opening in the outfield and every day (2022 graduate) Ethan Rosenthal proved that he should be out there offensively and defensively,” explained LeFevre. “We want each kid to feel like they are a valuable part of the program. If they grab the opportunity, they are going to be on the field.”
While the spring season is months away, some Cheshire players are already working out. For guidance, the staff has provided boys with an off-season throwing and lifting program
“Baseball is about repetition,” said LeFevre. “Guys who put the time in during the off-season have a good chance to do well during the (spring) season.”
Going forward, he wants the Rams to strengthen their community relationship with programs like Cheshire Youth Baseball.
“It is important to incorporate the youth program into the high school team,” said LeFevre. “We want to have clinics with the kids and start working with them in the winter.”
CHS baseball posted a 10-11 record last season and qualified for the Class LL Tournament. Next year, they will look to fill the roles of eight graduated players.
“We want to win all of our games and compete for SCC and state championships,” stated LeFevre.