Coach Al Shapiro grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, one of five brothers in an athletic family. He was graduated in 1938, attended Monson Academy and went onto Tufts University, where he played soccer, basketball and baseball.
An excellent baseball player, he played minor league baseball in the Eastern League first with Utica as an outfielder and then with Wilkes-Barre where he also played second base. The latter being a New York Yankee affiliate. Al later played semiprofessional baseball with the Windsor Locks Athletic Association where he also pitched. Al also played professional basketball with the Springdale Allies and the Ware Pros in Ware, Ma.
Al’s first teaching and coaching job was in Windsor Locks in 1943. Before Shapiro, the Windsor Locks basketball team lost to Enfield 61 – 2. He started with a team that had little experience and made them successful in the very first year and beat the Enfield team they were soundly defeated by the previous year. In two years, he developed a reputation of producing some of the best basketball and baseball teams in years.
From 1946 to 1955 he went to Enfield where he taught Physical Education and was the Athletic Director at the Higgins Junior High School. He returned to Windsor Locks to teach PE and coach basketball and baseball.
In basketball, he was one of the first coaches to install a zone press defense in the mid 40’s which led to many successful teams. He was an innovator, a tactician and his attention to detail laid the cornerstone for the success of his teams. His teams consistently reached the state tournament, several reached the semifinals and his teams were always respected by opponents.
As a baseball coach his teams were always given the same attention to detail. Teams were the beneficiaries of the knowledge he transferred to them from his playing days in the pros. The final two years of his high school coaching career, his basketball teams went 21 – 1 in 1961 and 18 – 3 in 1962.
Coach Shapiro always took care of his athletes. He guided them beyond the realm of athletics. He took care to oversee their academic progress and their social progress, making sure they played the game of life within the boundaries.
Al always displayed respect for the sports he coached and in turn earned respect for himself as a coach and more importantly as a person.
Coach and his wife Bea has two children Leslie and Joe. They had several grandchildren and also several great grandchildren.