Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The story of former St. Paul/Goodwin Tech football player Nathan Sirois that appeared in the New Britain Herald Wednesday has as luminous a silver lining as any I’ve ever written.

On the surface, it’s sad, something of an indictment of a system that allows a young athlete to slip between the cracks, denied of a chance to play.

Sirois, a junior at Goodwin Tech, wants to play so badly. The CIAC, which makes the rules, absolutely cannot make any exceptions no matter how politically correct they may be.

Sirois certainly isn’t the only Goodwin Tech student who would like to play football. Eight others still at Goodwin are in the same boat having played at St. Paul when the co-op was in effect. They could have transferred to St. Paul or a public school if football was that much of a priority.

Goodwin starting a program is a thought. Cheney Tech-Manchester split from East Catholic and began its own program under the auspices of Berlin’s Bill Baccaro, now back at East Catholic. Abbott Tech-Danbury has a team as does Wolcott Tech-Torrington. So do Wilcox Tech-Meriden and Platt Tech-Milford. Bullard-Havens Tech of Bridgeport has had one for years.

Apparently Goodwin does not have the support within the school to get one going and it is a major undertaking that needs support across the board.
Several vocational/technical schools remain in cooperative partnerships. Ellis Tech-Danielson is in a tri-op with Putnam and Tourtellotte-Thompson. Norwich Tech is partnered with St. Bernard and Windham Tech with Coventry. O’Brien Tech-Ansonia is in with Derby.

Goodwin is unfortunate that it is surrounded by big towns and cities. None of the area public schools are small enough that they require a co-op to stay in the gridiron business. Alas, there’s nothing left to do but feel sorry for Sirois, but don’t feel too sorry.

The Plainville boy is on the road to a career in manufacturing technology. He is smart and very determined. There isn’t a bitter bone in his body.

Sirois is the perfect example of the scholastic athletic system doing exactly what those who established and nurtured it for the last 100 or so years had hoped it would do. Team sports offer dynamics that enable players to form a cohesive group under the guidance of caring adults. They discover how success comes to those who work together with determination and efficiency toward a common goal.

Congratulations are in order all the way around.

Goodwin Tech wasn’t founded to win state championships. Sirois is a fine example of why the state had the vision to establish a forum for alternative education. Everybody can’t go to college to become doctors, lawyers and stockbrokers. We need young men like Sirois and everybody at Goodwin who had a hand in his development should be mighty proud.

The CIAC may loom as the villain in this production but think again. Rules were established and its committees are living by them as well they must.

St. Paul coach Jude Kelly has done everything possible to nurture Sirois and then some. The woman in the St. Paul booster club – unfortunately I did not ask her name – deserves credit for calling Sirois’ plight to my attention.

Include Goodwin athletic director Roger Pulito, who has been doing great things for kids for years. And Pulito told me how hard his colleague at St. Paul – David Dennehy – worked on Sirois’ behalf.

Sure I wish something could be done to foster the miracle of Sirois lacing up some shoulder pads and getting the chance to play again. He had so much courage to discuss his feelings with me so I could relate them to you. But the young man will learn from the experience and be fine in the long run.

If you’ll allow, I’d like to use this as a segue to what I continue to see at New Britain.

I’m not likely to give much attention to any of the cowards who file their critical anonymous diatribes after our stories on the website but the continued assault on New Britain football coach Paul Morrell is beyond absurd.

Nothing short of a state championship will put an end to it, but we simply cannot judge Morrell or any other coach on postseason accomplishments. Everybody in the city enjoyed what Jack Cochran brought to the NBHS trophy case. Cochran, in spite of his well-chronicled down side, probably possesses the finest football mind of anyone to draw X’s and O’s in state history.

Morrell isn’t the only coach in America who hasn’t won football games at a .935 clip. But he has won far more than he’s lost (even Notre Dame wouldn’t fire a guy who is 36-17) and he’s won even more of the battles that don’t get into the sports pages. He’s done a lot of great things for a lot of kids. Doesn’t that count for something?
Let the man coach.

No comments: