While attending Branford High School, Dave Atkinson was a well-rounded athlete who participated in basketball and track. However, it was on the gridiron that he achieved numerous accolades and earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. A three year starter at running back and linebacker, Atkinson was known for his tenacity and unparalleled leadership abilities. At the conclusion of his junior season, Dave was named 2nd Team-All State as a linebacker. The following season, Dave was voted captain by his peers and he earned All Housatonic League honors.
Dan Cudgma (Branford Sports Hall of Fame-Class of 2015) played alongside Dave on both offense and defense. Cudgma stated, “Dave always led by example. Whether he was playing in a game or running wind sprints at the end of practice Dave only knew one speed and that was all out.” Atkinson’s style of play was one of the contributing factors in helping the Hornets defeat their arch rival East Haven for three consecutive seasons.
After graduating in the spring of 1983, Dave matriculated to Western Connecticut State University. There he played for legendary college head coach and NFL position coach Paul Pasqualoni. Atkinson started at halfback for four seasons in the wishbone offense and he helped to lead his team to the D-III National Playoffs. Deron Bayer, a longtime high school educator and football coach, was a teammate of Atkinson. Deron commented, “Dave was a fierce competitor. If you opposed him in a practice drill, you better have had your chin strap buckled tight because Dave was going to bring it. To this day, his friendship has been invaluable to me.”
After college Dave played for the New England All Stars Football Team in Europe in the summer of 1988, which was an experience he will never forget.
After his athletic career, Dave has had the opportunity to coach High School football as well as at the youth level in many different sports, coaching all three of his children.
Educationally, Dave earned a degree from Charter Oak State College in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Psychology. Additionally, he graduated from Boston University with a Masters in Criminal Justice. Dave was an active reserve member of the United States Marine Corp from 1991-1999. He also holds a Merchant Mariner Credential as a Master Captain of Inland Waters.
In 1997, Dave began his career as a law enforcement officer in Branford. Serving the town with distinction, he has worked as the K-9 officer, swat team member, marine patrol officer, field training officer and Motors unit officer. The last eight years Dave has been serving as the detective in charge of the youth division investigating crimes against children. Furthermore, as a result of his excellence and diligence, Dave has been the recipient of many prestigious citations and certifications.
Coach Pasaqualoni added, “The people of Branford are very lucky to have Dave on the force. He is a hard working person with character, values, and a sense of what is right. Dave also brings a positive attitude and spirit to the community.”
In his personal life, Dave married his wife Diane in 1993 at the Stony Creek Congregational Church. The loving couple have three children – Anna, Abby and Avery. The Atkinson family continues to reside in Stony Creek.