Rousseau ready to inspire players and lead the WCA football team

BY MARK JAFFEE
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
WATERBURY — When Jonas Rousseau was trying to earn playing time with the Nassau Community College football team two decades ago, he realized he could make an impact on special teams.
Coming out of the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY, Rousseau was not heavily drafted as a running back or linebacker.
But using his speed, quickness and instinct, he played defensive end on special teams and ended up blocking punts and making an impact.
“It helped me get noticed,” he said. “In one season, I blocked seven or eight punts, and even though I never recovered any of them, one of my teammates did twice and returned them for touchdowns. He always reminded of that. I helped give him the only two touchdowns of his career. What kids need to understand is that special teams can be a game changer. It’s something that’s totally unexpected and that the opposing teams usually don’t really plan.
“If the young people want to go on the field, do where they have to go,” added Rousseau. “By making plays on special teams, it made it difficult for the coaching staff. They couldn’t get me out of the field.
His performances would eventually get him noticed, first by the University of Maine, then transferred to Stony Brook University, where he became a regular in 2009 and 2010.
After graduating, Rousseau coached Brooklyn high school football at Samuel J. Tilden High as a defensive coordinator and head coach at and later at Canarsie High as an assistant for the past decade.
He and his family chose to leave New York after the COVID-19 pandemic, where positive percentage rates were higher than most places in the United States. Rousseau and his wife Shantae, along with their sons Jaiden, 13, and Jonas Jr., 7, and daughter, Jaxon, 10, moved to Waterbury in April 2021.
Rousseau started working at Brass City Charter School, a K-8 school in Waterbury, then transferred to Crosby High in January this year as a behavioral specialist.
Over the winter, the job of Head of Football at Waterbury Career Academy unexpectedly became available when Peter Flammia was appointed assistant headteacher at the school. Flammia started the program and guided the Spartans to a 24-26 overall record for five seasons, including a 5-5 mark in 2021.
The timing of the vacation was perfect for Rousseau.
“We are delighted to have Jonas leading the program,” said WCA Sporting Director Ryan McDonald. “He has the right philosophy to continue what our former coach Pete Flammia built. He’s excited to start and we look forward to working with him.
Rousseau, 40, is grateful for this opportunity.
“The opportunity presented itself and I took a leap of faith,” Rousseau said.
Throughout his professional career, Rousseau was involved in social work and with young people. This vast experience will come in handy on the fringes of football, Rousseau said.
“I’m in the business of building and managing relationships,” Rousseau said. “By working in the field, like in a host family, I learned how to manage young men. It’s my strength.”
In the fall, Rousseau will remain at Crosby in his full-time role as behavioral specialist.
“Working at WCA would be ideal, but it’s not in the plans or in the works now,” Rousseau said.
Crosby manager Michael Veronneau is a former three-sport Bulldogs captain and football star.
“I would follow him anywhere,” said Rousseau de Veronneau. “When I got hired at WCA, he was really happy for me. He hugged me. I can’t say enough good things about Mike Veronneau. I love the work environment here.
The distance to WCA makes it very manageable to train football. Rousseau likes what he sees in off-season football training.
“We regularly have 25 kids for our off-season practices and we’ve had seven or eight freshmen, which is a phenomenal sign,” he said.
There is one phrase he insists on with his players: be responsible for everything and commit to the program.
“Everything is earned,” he said. “Nothing will be given to them. Nobody has a jersey number or position (guaranteed) at this point. In the future, children will fully understand and grasp it.

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