Joseph James McKenna, Jr was a true native son, ambassador, and champion of Windsor Locks. Better known to all as “Jim”, he lived in Windsor Locks his entire life.

Born on Center Street to parents Mary and Joseph McKenna, Jim attended St. Mary’s school before moving onto Windsor Locks High.

At WLHS, Jim played 4 years of baseball graduating in 1961; his junior year he was on the track team AND the baseball team.

He then attended the University of Bridgeport graduating with his degree in Physical Education in 1967.

Jim started his teaching career in East Windsor yet two years later in 1969 he started working in his hometown as a physical education teacher and coach at WLHS.

At the high school Jim coached JV soccer and assisted coaching baseball under legendary coach Daniel Sullivan (Hall of Fame class of 2005).

Jim was Coach Sullivan’s assistant in 1970 and 1971 when the
soccer team captured consecutive state titles.

Jim also coached the first swim team and the softball teams at WLHS.

Remarkably, his first-year softball team reached the state tournament quarterfinals. The 1978 softball team won the State Championship.

The team finished the regular season with a 11-7 record and were ranked 17 th in the state. They were the first team to win 5 consecutive games in the state tournament.

Not only did they win 5 in a row, they defeated number 1 Farmington and number 2 Hand-Madison to win the Class M Softball crown.

That team featured 2 future Hall of Fame inductees, catcher Holly Storms Muehlenkamp (class of 2007) and pitcher Judy Van Schelt Jones (class of 2011).

The team was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Jim’s former players, led by Judy Van Schelt Jones, fund an annual WLHS Dollars for Scholars scholarship in his memory for a graduating senior female athlete.

In 1980, Jim transferred to Windsor Locks Middle School where he taught physical education and coached soccer, softball and baseball until his retirement.

He was also a soccer referee and softball umpire. Jim was a student of every sport he officiated or coached and was known to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the fundamentals and the rules…especially in baseball, the sport he loved the most.

Jim was a teacher in Windsor Locks for 36 years. He proudly taught and coached thousands of students over five decades. He was a mentor to other teachers and coaches including legendary WLHS football coach Pat Scelza (Class of 2008 inductee) who replaced
Jim as softball coach at the high school, and Coach David Farr (Class of 2009 inductee).

Coach Farr recalls Jim’s training him to “never assume anything.”

Born and raised on a farm, Jim could fix almost anything. He was that person who knew when help was needed and gave it before being asked.

Jim had great pride is his hometown. He was an altar boy at St. Mary’s, played the fife in the Windsor Locks Fireman Fife and Drum Corps. He volunteered for 50 years with the Fire Department, serving as fire
Marshall for several years.

Jim taught swimming lessons and was a lifeguard at the Pesci

He also served on the Tobacco Valley Teachers Federal Credit Union Board of Directors.

An avid fisherman, Jim loved his yearly fishing trips to Maine with his buddies.

It was at Pesci Park where Jim met his future wife, Sharon. Jim and Sharon were married just shy of 49 years when Jim passed in 2016. Sharon and Jim have two sons, Jay and Tom.

Tom followed in Dad’s footsteps as a teacher. Jay and his wife Stephanie have two children Veronica and Joey.

Jim is one of the dozens of Hall of Fame inductees who share a family connection.

Jim’s cousin Bob Norris was inducted into the Hall in 2005.

Jim was a man of few words yet when he spoke it was always with kindness and encouragement.

He imparted this wisdom to his sons and grandchildren: his #1 rule in whatever athletic endeavor you take on was “have fun!”

There are a lot of ways to define greatness and by any measure Jim McKenna was a great man.

Every town needs a Jim McKenna. He was always proud of Windsor Locks and Windsor Locks was always proud of him.

He influenced the lives of thousands of students and athletes.

He rightfully takes his place among the athletes that he helped reach their maximum potential and become “great”, like him.

est 2005