My experience at Monday’s boys basketball game between New Britain and Northwest Catholic reinforced my appreciation for high school sports.
It starts with the people.
There’s John the ticket seller. I never walk into a New Britain sporting event without John having something nice to say about my work. With the intense nature of getting out stories with a 10 p.m. deadline, I really don’t have the time to chat with him to the extent that I’d like but every writer likes to hear that people are reading the stories and blogs.
The Northwest Catholic folks are terrific. Athletic director Josh Reese and boys coach John Mirabello are two of the nicest people around. No wonder kids love to play hoops there. I’ve always wished that the Herald could cover Northwest. I haven’t seen girls coach Karl Herbert yet this season but no one is more deserving of the success that he’s enjoying. He’s got his club at the top of the state polls and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up there.
The Indians lost to New Britain, 63-59, yet Mirabello, as always, stressed the positive after the game. He truly felt that the lessons gained by his young club will pay dividends down the line. I don’t doubt it. He’s got a nice mix of veterans (Julian Harris, J.C. Carr, Tom Bourdon) and perhaps the best freshman in the state in 6-foot-8 Kuran Iverson.
Again because of how pressure-packed it is to get a story out, I rarely have a chance to chat with the fans. There were so many former NB players and parents and I’d love to sit down for a cup of coffee with them all. I just hope they fully understand that stringing together a game story in a matter of minutes chips away at my free time.
The same goes for the New Britain administration.
The work of athletic director Lenny Corto, site director Bill Ackerman, clock operator Paul Majeski, official scorer Michelle Abraham and the other coaches like Mimi Parks who lend a hard is generally unnoticed. The atmosphere wouldn’t be as pleasant if the PA system is malfunctioning but Ackerman makes sure everything is in order. Abraham balances the scorebook quicker than anybody I’ve ever worked with, and that’s a huge bonus when you’re trying to get a story out. The PA work turned in by Randy Brochu gives Chick Shea Gym a college-like aura.
East Hartford’s talented 6-foot-6 forward Jakarri McCalop went out of his way to stop by to say hello after the game. He wanted to know when I was going to cover one of his games. I hope I get the pleasure because New Britain and East Hartford are not scheduled to play during the regular season. Maybe I can catch him when the Hornets play Newington. His kindness warmed my heart.
I had the chance to chat with Tebucky Jones after the game. I could talk to him for hours. I hope I can find the time to do that soon. What a great job he’s done raising his family. Tebucky Jr. is a terrific young man.
The New Britain coaching staff headed by Stan Glowiak is outstanding. Stan is a true friend. Todd Stigliano and Darwin Shaw, too.
I saw Mayor Tim Stewart walk in and provide his support. You’ve got to appreciate that he can find the time to attend the games and he’s at quite a few. Every mayor should be as sports-minded and supportive. Former principal Paul Salina rarely misses a game. He’s there with his camera, snapping photos that he’ll give to the kids. Current principal Mike Foran put in a full day at school and doesn’t have to be there, but he is … almost all the time.
The pep band and cheerleaders add to the atmosphere.
Gradually, the crowd thins out. I’m typing like a madman as the custodians clean up, roll up the bleachers and prepare the gym for Tuesday’s school day. I don’t know all their names but their work is indispensible and their kindness is greatly appreciated. The one I do know is former NBHS lineman and Northeastern grad Corey Thomas. I’d be proud to call him my son, but I don’t think that great dad of his is giving him up any time soon.
Then there was the game. It was just a great high school game, close all the way, well-officiated and extremely well-played. So many people said so as they left the gym. What a great night!
The season is still young. Many great games both at home and on the road remain. Why don’t you consider joining the family.