A Housy grad, Aitken is back in Falls Village in his first season as the boys lacrosse coach for the Mountaineers. A player during the glory days of Housy lax, the first-year coach has his sights set on developing a successful and winning program.
If Aitken's lacrosse experience is any indication, he'll be successful.
A 2004 graduate of Housatonic Regional, Aitken played four seasons for the Mountaineers and then continued his lacrosse career at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. The Mountaineers had one of the better programs in the state during the latter part of Aitken's career there and while a player for the Colonials, he was a member of the most successful team in school history.
"In my junior and senior year's at Housatonic we made the state tournament both seasons," Aitken said. "We had a good core of kids that played together a long time. My senior season we started 13-0 and were #1 in the state. That's where I'd like to see the program get to again. I want to grow the program and getting back to the states and making a run is always the goal."
Housatonic was where Aitken got his start in competitive lacrosse and WCSU is where he put the finishing touches on his game. His junior season in Danbury the Colonials won the program's first conference championship in lacrosse and went to the NCAA tournament.
It was during that time that Aitken really learned a lot about commitment and what it took to be a successful athlete and being able to balance the demands of being a student athlete.
"At that time, I just felt like I was living the dream being a college athlete," Aitken said. "I was playing a sport, getting an education, it was a good balance and helped me learn how to handle things that come up later in life. It was a seven-day a week job. We practiced every day, lifted weights, watched film, had individual practices. The only time off was Sunday til about noon."
Aitken's college coach was Jason Oulette, who still is at the helm of the Colonials' program. While in Danbury, Aitken was not only a part of a winning team but also
in a sort of lacrosse class with Oulette serving as the teacher and giving Aitken a foundation he is using as coach of the Mountaineers today.
"Jason me so much more about lacrosse than I knew going into college," Aitken said. 'Game strategy, plays, it definitely increased my lacrosse IQ and all the things I learned from him I am trying to apply to my coaching."
When aitken learned of the opening at Housy he was immediately interested and he showed right away he was ready and had learned a lot during his time playing under Oulette.
"He came in and really blew us away in the interview process," Housatonic athletic director Dan Carroll said. "Joe has a great plan and vision for the program and being suck a good player in his playing days here and at Western, really gives him instant credibility with the kids."
Credibility and successful playing career aside, Aitken is still learning on the job as a first-year coach and he has inherited a young team this season.
Helping Aitken out as he learns the ins and outs of the game from on the sidelines is coach John Foster, the long-time head coach of the boys team at Housy who is back as an assistant to both the boys and girls programs this spring. Aitken played for coach Foster at Housatonic and the two have formed a good working partnership as the torch gets past from coach Foster to his former player.
"He always brings a perspective that I don't always have," Aitken said. "He's been at this for so long so I am benefiting from his experience and learning some of the tricks of the trade."
The Mountaineers did give Aitken his first coaching win earlier this season but are also a young team that has been beset by injuries early on this season. Aitken sees the team turning the corner as they get healthy and feels they have a good run coming down the stretch of the schedule.
"I'm loving it, it is great to have lacrosse in my life every day," Aitken said. "It's my alma mater and they needed a coach. It's a great job and I can't think of a better place to get my start."