Starting in elementary school, John Perosino dreamed of becoming a physical education teacher in Cheshire. While attending Cheshire High School, the 2000 graduate had the chance to shadow teachers for credit and learn about the profession.
“It was affirmation for me that I was going to love and enjoy it,” recalled Perosino. “That (job) is what I wanted to go to college for and make my life’s work.”
Following his graduation from Central Connecticut State University, he was hired as a CHS PE and health teacher in 2005, but due to budget cuts in 2010, his position was cut.
Perosino wanted to stay in his hometown and took the same position at Dodd Middle School. In 2017, he became the assistant principal at Dodd.
“I was saddened to leave the high school, but little did I know that it was the best thing for me,” reflected Perosino. “I learned so much at Cheshire High School and I was able to bring that (experience) to Dodd.”
After spending the last six years at the middle-school level, he is excited to return to CHS in a new athletic role. At the Cheshire Board of Education meeting on Feb. 16, Perosino was announced as the successor to Athletic Director Steve Trifone, who will be retiring on July 1 of this year.
“Cheshire athletics has great coaches, student-athletes, staff, and community support,” stated Perosino. “It’s difficult to envision anyone in that role other than Steve Trifone, but I am very excited and am extremely honored to have the opportunity.”
Back in 2003, Trifone was chosen to follow another retiring AD in Wayne Candela. He is happy to have Perosino take his place at the end of the school year.
“I thought it was definitely a great choice for the position,” said Trifone. “He has been part of the District and knows the coaches, the kids, and the community.”
Trifone made his decision to retire last fall. The news was made public during the pre-game of the 26th Apple Valley Classic between Cheshire and Southington football on Thanksgiving.
As an administrator in the District, Perosino was given a heads up about Trifone’s retirement.
“After getting over the shock that I am sure everyone else in the community felt, my interest was pretty immediate,” recalled Perosino. “I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that my wife and I started our initial discussions that night.”
He applied for the job and was among the candidates who were interviewed in January.
“Due to the great reputation and success of our athletic department, I knew it (AD) was going to be a highly sought-after position,” said Perosino. “As the process moved forward, I felt like I would be a good fit for the position. I am not sure that I would use the word ‘surprised’ (to be hired), but I can say I was extremely emotional. This really is a dream opportunity for me.”
Perosino is thankful for his family’s support in pursuing the job.
“I believe with all my heart this is a family job. Without the support and commitment of my wife (Jennifer), I would have never sent in my application. She knows how much this means to me, and without her, I could never chase this dream,” he said.
“I think my (three) kids are pretty excited to be running around the field and gyms, as well,” Perosino added. “They are going to get the chance to be around some incredible student-athletes, who I am sure will serve as role models for them. I feel very fortunate that they are going to grow up in the Ram family.”
Perosino believes that Cheshire schools prepared him well for his future. At CCSU, he studied physical education and health.
Perosino earned his certification from Southern Connecticut State University and also took a master’s program in Holistic Thinking at The Graduate Institute in Bethany.
“We learned a lot about wellness and being yourself,” stated Perosino. “It was a program well ahead of its time.”
The Graduate Institute was co-founded by Trifone’s brother Jim, who passed away from cancer in 2021. Jim Trifone taught science for 30 years at CHS.
“Steve’s brother was an unbelievably bright man and had an amazing way of connecting with people,” explained Perosino.
After growing up in Cheshire, Perosino felt that becoming a PE teacher was a dream come true in 2005.
“While at CHS, I used to joke with (retired basketball and golf) coach Nick Carparelli that I wanted to come back and sit in his chair,” recalled Perosino.
He enjoyed working with teachers such as Rich Pulisciano, Dan Lee, Sarah Mik, and Cathy Sullivan.
“I have so much respect for that physical education department,” added Perosino.
Along with teaching, Perosino got into coaching at CHS. He spent over 10 years as the Rams freshman football coach, as well as assisting with the girls’ basketball program for approximately nine years.
Perosino also enjoyed coaching with the baseball and boys’ golf programs.
“John was a well-organized coach who worked well with kids and parents,” recalled Trifone. “Those combinations right there are going to lead to his success as athletic director.”
Perosino felt that being organized helped him to becoming assistant principal at Dodd.
“It was an enormous transition. I went from being out on a field teaching flag football to seventh graders to being an assistant principal,” recalled Perosino. “It speaks to the school system, to how they developed me to the point that I could be successful.”
Perosino will now be leaving Dodd at the end of this school year, and he has nothing but high praise for the faculty and staff there, who, he stated, will be missed.
“I have been extremely lucky to be able to work at Dodd,” said Perosino. “I have learned so much from everyone that I worked with.”
Since the majority of Dodd students attend CHS, Perosino feels that familiarity will help his transition. He has also worked with and coached alongside many members of the athletic staff.
“I’m extremely excited,” stated Perosino. “It is a collaborative effort.”
As an alum, Perosino likes the fact that several former Cheshire athletes are now coaching in the school system.
“It shows that they enjoyed the athletic program,” said Perosino. “They are willing to give back to the programs that helped in their development.”
Since he started teaching, Perosino has looked up to Trifone as a mentor. Under Trifone’s leadership, the Rams have won titles on the state level and in the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC).
“Steve’s accomplishments as an athletic director are only outmatched by who he is as a person,” stated Perosino. “It is a goal of mine to honor his leadership by continuing and building upon the work that has been accomplished under his leadership.”
Like his mentor, Perosino plans to promote academics as well as athletics.
“Steve Trifone has a saying, ‘There is a reason why ‘student’ comes before ‘athlete,’ and I completely agree. Our student-athletes are at Cheshire High School to receive an education first,” explained Perosino. “A high-quality athletic program can be a great support to the educational process and help expand it. I have always believed that if our student-athletes are taking care of things in the building, success will happen on the field.”
He believes that the School District’s main focus areas are on complex thinking and emotional learning.
“We put our money on those two areas because we know that if our students can think with complexity and have strong social and emotional skills, they are well on their way to being successful adults and positive contributors to our world,” stated Perosino. “I believe our athletic programs have been and can continue to be a strong contributor in helping our student-athletes achieve those goals.”
Perosino is familiar with the Rams program, but to get more experience, he plans to work with Trifone in the transition to being AD. The men will both attend the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors (CAAD) monthly meeting on Thursday and Friday.
“It will be a good opportunity for him to meet athletic directors from around the state,” stated Trifone. “He has gone to SCC AD monthly meetings with me.”
In announcing his retirement last year, Trifone wanted to have time to help out his successor, just as he was helped by Candela when taking over the position.
“I didn’t have to step in cold and it gave me some flavor of what being in the position would be like,” Trifone explained.
However, until the change is made official in July, both Perosino and Trifone remain focused on the responsibilities of their current positions.
“I believe we will also have some time after July 1 to focus on my transition,” said Perosino. “Steve should be allowed to soak in and enjoy the remainder of the year without worrying about me right now. He is certainly deserving of (recognition) and has earned that.”
For Trifone, last Saturday marked the start of his final spring season as AD.
“When I announced my retirement, I knew that I still had a full year left. It is a little melancholy now,” stated Trifone. “I think we have some good spring teams coming up and I look forward to watching them play. This is like the gun lap (in track) for me.”
Trifone added that he plans to keep following the Rams as a fan.
“I’ll definitely be at events next year,” said Trifone. “I won’t be planning them, but I’ll be watching.”
Starting this fall, Perosino’s initial focus will be on ensuring that student-athletes don’t feel as though any of their experiences have been jeopardized.
“You only get one freshman year or one senior year and I want to ensure those are great experiences for them,” said Perosino. “After that, I believe the goals become more about we and not me. In order to goal-set for the future, I will really need to meet with our coaches, players, and other stakeholders to get a better understanding of their goals and then work tirelessly to support them and help them achieve.”