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June 2013

Overachievers

Boys volleyball finishes as Class L runners up Page 9

Thomas Xu and Jessica Rihm are 2013 Scholar Athletes Page 5

Evan Macy | Staff

The Glastonbury girls lacrosse team took many by surprise with its run to the Class L semifinals, but not head coach Kris Cofiell.

Tomahawks girls lacrosse has season to remember CHESHIRE — It may have ended last Tuesday with a 11-8 loss to Greenwich in the Class L state semifinals, but it was a special season for the Glastonbury girls lacrosse team. “In some respects we overachieved,”

Glastonbury head coach Kris Cofiell said. “When you looked at this team at the beginning of the year, this is not where I thought we would be. But as we progressed certainly, then you start thinking this is a possibility. “ The Tomahawks compiled a 15-1 record during the regular season, good for the top seed Class L state tournament.

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The only regular season loss came May 9th at Wilton.The team went on to win the CCC, and a breezy 13-2 win over Stamford to start the tournament. They then won a 17-15 overtime thriller against Ridgefield to set up the semifinal match. “Class L is obviously deep,” the coach said. “If you look on lax power, nine of the top 12 teams are in Class L. To get here was amazing.” The makeup of the team is also pretty amazing. The team has exactly six seniors, six juniors, six sophomores and six freshmen. Which made for an unique dynamic. “I think it was really interesting,” Cofiell said. “Having [six players from each class] was cool. It was interesting for them. I’ve never had that many freshmen on my team that was a large squad

Evan Macy | Staff

Glastonbury’s Sydney Keane. for me. It was interesting.”

“GIRLS LAX” Continued on PAGE 4


2

June 2013

TheSportsDept.com - Print Edition

The Sports Department

P.O. Box 746, Ellington, CT 06029 860-872-0TSD (0873) • 860-614-5866 • thesportsdept.com Publisher: Kevin Hayes • kevin@thesportsdept.com Editor: Brendan Faherty • Production Manager: Patty Hunter

Contributing Writers: Jon Buzby • Tom Ainsworth • Steve Smith Reid L. Walmark • Damian Frasinelli • Nate Owen Amy Locandro • Tim Larew • Robert Tedford • Brendon Willis Katy Sprout • Katie Powers • Matt Lebel • Ryan Kane • Mike Bidwell Melissa Green-Maltese Photography: Steve Palmer • Andre Dumais • Rich Tanguay EB Taylor Photography • Sherrene Wells • Alan Bastarache • Robert Pospisil Steve Smith • Andre Garant • Melanie Oliveria

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TheSportsDept.com - Print Edition

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s okay for kids to take the summer off from youth sports The other night my neighbor had his 9-year-old son in the backyard taking swings in a make-shift batting cage. The boyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s baseball season had just ended the night before. And while Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not sure whose idea it was to head outside and hit balls, I can only guess based on the fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s barking voice and the sweating scowl on the batterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s face as he longingly gazed at my boys and me biking by, that it was not the boyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s suggestion. Kids enjoy the summer months because they get a break from the stresses of school. Other than a few summer reading assignments, which, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s face it, usually get completed under duress the weekend before the first day of school, kids can just be kids. And for many, this means not having the pressure and stress that is often involved with being on a youth sports team. That boy across the street was out hitting balls every night during the season. My guess is, he wanted to be in order to improve and keep his name on the lineup card. Or at least was more

willing to be out there. But now that the season is over, I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help but think heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather be in a pool somewhere, romping around the local jungle gym, playing kickball, or maybe coming along for a bike ride. As parents, we need to keep that in mind. While thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing wrong with kids being outside during the summer months playing baseball or basketball or maybe even a sport they never play in an organized league, they should do so on their own terms. It shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be because we parents are making threats about how the other players are all practicing on their own or playing on travel teams or in summer leagues. Or how about this one: â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t practice, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be left off the team next year.â&#x20AC;? Yes, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one of my originals, thus this column. If your son (or daughter) does ask you to shoot hoops in the driveway or head to the batting cages, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great. But try not to offer advice unless asked. Just observe. Think of it as if your child chose to read a book just for fun that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t on

his summer reading list. My guess is you wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be looking over his shoulder trying to hone his reading skills. In fact, you probably wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even be in the same room. During the summer, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t to fine-tune his swing â&#x20AC;Ś unless he asks. During the summer months, I try to remember this simple rule: The best way for a kid to spend his time during

the summer when it involves sports, is simply, however he chooses. Much like we did, or wish we had been allowed to, when we were kids. Contact Jon Buzby at JonBuzby@ hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.

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TheSportsDept.com - Print Edition

June 2013

Tomahawks boys, girls Odds and Ends: Stellar lax have success in 2013 spring performances CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

The variety was both challenging and exciting, as players from different experience levels began to mesh perfectly as the season carried on. “This is a young team,” Cofiell said. “My first two kids off the bench are freshmen. We have a great group of kids. Katherine Nuzzulo is a great player, she’s an emotional hard worker, she’s our heart and soul on the field. I feel bad for the seniors.” The team will likely have the same breakdown next year, with more experience and a lot of talent. “We have freshmen and sophomores in JV wed love to bump up,” Cofiell said, “and 8th graders coming in. It will be a battle next year. It makes you happy when you see what you have coming back. The future is bright no doubt about it.” Boys Lacrosse The Glastonbury boys (13-7) fashioned an eight-game winning streak in May to close out the regular season, following a bumpy start by losing four of their first

By Evan Macy Sports Editor

Evan Macy | Staff

Glastonbury’s Chase Conway.

five games in April. The Tomahawks, who finished first in the CCC West with a 7-0 record, beat Conard-West Hartford in the division semifinals on May 22 but lost to Simsbury 5-4 in overtime for the division championship two days later. The Tomahawks were seeded eighth in the Class L state tournament from their 11-5 regular-season record. Glastonbury beat No. 9 New Milford 11-3 in the first round but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by No. 1 Ridgefield 14-5.

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Glastonbury’s Evan Grenus shot a two-under-par 70 to take co-medalist honors in the D-I golf tournament last week. Teammate Albert Hansrisuk also had a stellar round, a 79, helping the Tomahawks to a 9th place finish. ... Enfield’s Ryan Zetterholm was another local medalist, his one-under 71 taking tops in D-III. Local squads made a good showing in D-III on the team level as well, with Ellington (4th), Enfield (5th), Suffield (7th) and Tolland (10th) all finishing in the top 10. ... East Windsor’s Author Ouimet made a strong showing in D-IV, posting a six-over 77, good for fifth place in the tournament. ... The Glastonbury girls golf team finished eighth in the girls tournament last week, with Alexandra LeClair leading the way with an 89. Ellington’s Ali Larew was also impressive, shooting a 91 and getting 14th place. Track and Field Tolland finished fourth in the girls State Open track tournament. ... Ea-

gles’ hurdler Katy Sprout took first place in the 300 hurdles with an incredible time of 43.48 seconds, besting a State Open record by almost Evan Macy | Staff four tenths Tolland’s Katy Sprout. of a second. She was also a part of the Eagles’ second place finishing 4x400 relay squad. ... Tolland’s Meghan Lester threw the javelin 132 athe State Open. ... The Glastonbury girls took second in the 4x800 relay in the State Open. Boys Tennis Glastonbury’s Reid Risinger made it all the way to the finals in the Class LL boys tennis tournament. His 1-6, 3-6 loss to No. 1 seeded Jason Seidman was his first of the season. ... Tolland’s Cameron Nick made it to the third round of Class M, but fell to the No. 1 overall seed.


June 2013

5

TheSportsDept.com - Print Edition

Erika Studer | Staff

Glastonbury baseball players celebrate a run in a 3-2 win over Newington, left, and Tomahawks fans rally their squad during a Class LL tournament game.

Tomahawks baseball, softball finish strong By Evan Macy Sports Editor

It was a wildly successful season for the Glastonbury baseball squad. The team went all the way to the Class LL quarterfinals, where a 3-2 eight inning thriller against Southington ended the wrong way for the Tomahawks, giving their season a bitter ending. But one only needs to look a few days earlier to find perhaps the sweetest part of the Glastonbury season, as After 15 years as the head coach of Newingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s baseball team, Eric Frank found himself across the dugout from his old team in the second round of Class LL. A 16-4 record in the regular season had the Tomahawks favored in the anticipated matchup.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was an emotional game today,â&#x20AC;? Frank said after the 3-2 win. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was at Newington for 15 years. I did a lot of great things there. I coached a lot of those players last year.â&#x20AC;? One of those old players was Newingtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kyle Bellizzi who pitched the entire game for the Indians. Frank knows how the Indians play. But the Indians know how Frank coaches. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think it offset itself,â&#x20AC;? Frank said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I know them well but they were really motivated today. Kyle Bellizzi threw a great game. I knew they wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t back down, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the kind of fight they had for 15 years.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been a long 12 months for the Tomahawkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s skipper, but there is still a lot more baseball to be played. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been a long journey,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We started off the season 0-2, new coach,

new system, new players. It took some time to adjust to each other, but they bought in.â&#x20AC;? Frank owes a special thanks to John Russell, the author of Glastonburyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s game-winning hit. But like his coach, Russell plays down his success. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You have to have ice in the veins,â&#x20AC;? Russell said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just like any other atbat. We feel good, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re rolling.â&#x20AC;? Mike Conti and Kyle Maglio were also heros in the game, each smacking RBIdoubles. Softball The softball team at Glastonbury won two tournament games as well, for the first time in the programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s history. The team also had a shot to stand alone atop the CCC North, but fell in 10 innings to Wethersfield. Five all-conference players took the

field each day for Glastonbury, seniors Katie Connolly, Delany Kehoe and Lindsey Musco. Junior Alyssa Foster and Sam Mello are two other all-conference players who will return to the 2014 squad. Connolly, Kehoe, Musco and the other seniors will leave the team in good shape next season, with experience and talent remaining in the system. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They were great leaders on the field this year,â&#x20AC;? Glastonbury head coach Georgenne Dicenso said of the seniors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They created a great team atmosphere and built a strong unit. We will miss their playing experience and their leadership.â&#x20AC;? The Tomahawks compiled a 15-5 regular season mark and got wins over McMahon and Greenwich before flaling 10-2 to Southington in the Class LL quarterfinals.

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TheSportsDept.com - Print Edition “Ask the ATC*” By Matt Boudreau, ATC *Certified Athletic Trainer Certified Athletic Trainers (ATC’s) are allied health care providers trained in the prevention,cevaluation and rehabilitation of sports injuries. They work under the direction of a physician and they are board certified nationally, and licensed in CT. Visit www.NATA.org for more information. Certified athletic trainers at Glastonbury High School are provided by Hartford Hospital Rehabilitation Network (rehab.harthosp.org ), formerly Eastern Rehabilitation Network. Hartford Hospital Rehabilitation Network (HHRN) and The Sports Department have partnered to bring readers a monthly column on sports medicine topics. Readers may submit questions related to injuries, training advice, rehabilitation or any other sports medicine topic. Submit questions to:Christina Martinelli, ATC (Glastonbury High School) - cmartinelli@harthosp. org, Allison Steingiser, ATC (Glastonbury High School) - asteingiser@harthosp.org, Rob Durbois, Physical therapist, (HHRN Glastonbury) - rdurbois@harthosp.org Heat vs. Cold Being an athlete or your typical weekend warrior you are likely to encounter an acute musculoskeletal injury once or twice in your lifetime. Acute injuries are typically defined from the point of trauma, which is up to 4872 hours after. But where do you go from there? What can you do to help the healing process? Two common modalities used by rehab specialists are cryotherapy (cold) and thermotherapy (heat). But, how do you know when to apply either therapy during the healing process. To answer this question you must first understand how each of these modali-

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June 2013 ties affects the body when applied. When applying cold to an injury you can expect changes to happen in that area of the body. Vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels to occur which in turn reduces bleeding. As blood flow decreases so does cellular metabolism which helps to reduce swelling to the injured area. Cold helps to increase a patient’s pain threshold making them more comfortable after the injury occurs. You can expect muscle elasticity to decrease, which helps to reduce muscle spasms around the injury. When you apply heat to an injury you can expect some different changes to occur. One of the main changes is vasodilation or the widening of blood vessels, which increases blood flow to the injury site. As blood flow increases so does cellular metabolism, which allows an increase in nutrients to be sent to the injury site to help speed up healing and recovery. Similar to cryotherapy, thermotherapy also helps to increase the patient’s pain threshold and decrease muscle spasm. So what does this all mean and where do you go from here? As a general rule of thumb it is best to apply cold to the injury between 48-72 hours to help decrease bleeding and inflammation, pain and spasm. After the 72 hour mark it is usually best to heat the injury site to help increase blood flow and nutrients to the area to help rebuild the damaged tissues. Something to keep in mind, applying cold to an injury at any point after it occurs is never a bad idea. When using both cryotherapy and thermotherapy, the long known acronym RICE also helps in the recovery process. R- rest, I- ice, C- compression, Eelevation. You should always consult your doctor regarding concerns.


June 2013

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TheSportsDept.com - Print Edition

Motorsports

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The 2011 and 2012 Wild Thing Kart senior champion Ron Midford Jr. and 2012 Carquest Champions for Charities winner will be racing to support the Troy Russell Benefit Fund on June 28, at Stafford motor speedway. On August 13, 2012, Troy, an outstanding Ellington High School student athlete, suffered a serious accident in Narragansett, RI leaving him with two broken vertebrae and the loss of mobility in both his arms and legs. With a tremendous amount of hard work and the support of friends and family, Troy continues to make great progress in his recovery. His strength, courage and positive attitude have been an inspiration to all of us. On behalf of Troy and his Family we would like to thank all who continue to support Troy in his recovery. To learn more about Troy Russellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s progress, please visit www.facebook. com/PrayForTroy. To learn more about Ron Midford Jr. and the Champions for Charities Race, please go to www.staffordspeedway.

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June 2013

TheSportsDept.com - Print Edition

Congratulations to the Class of 2013 The Scholar-Athlete Program annually recognizes two high school seniors, one male and one female, from each member high school whose academic and athletic careers have been exemplary, whose personal standards and acheivements are a model to others, and who posess high levels of integrity, self-discipline and courage.

GLASTONBURY CIAC Scholar Athlete

Jessica Rihm Field Hockey, Track Academic accomplishments: AP Scholar Award, Smith Book Award, National Honor Sociaty, Foreign Language National Honor Society, Science National Honor Sociaty, high honor roll, Falculty Scholar, Top 15 of class. Athetic accomplishments: All-Academic, All-State, All-State Student Athlete, All-conference, 3 year varsity

on field hockey, 1 year varsity track, 2010 CCC champs and state champs for field hockey, 2012 captain for field hockey. Most memorable thing about high school: Field hockey, each year, something extremely memorable happened, whether at practices or tryouts or games. I will never forget the experiences. Biggest influence in life: My brother. Watching and helping him grow up has helped me become a better person, and he has taught me many things. If I could change one thing in the world it would be: Lower the price of fruit. What it means to be named a Scholar Athete: This was the most incredible surprise and I still canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe I won it. I owe most of it to the people who helped me along the way. College Plans: Northeastern University, seeking doctorate of physical therapy.

GLASTONBURY CIAC Scholar Athlete

Thomas Xu Soccer, Track Academic accomplishments: Sixth in class, 4.712 GPA, AP Scholar with honor, National Honor Society, Science Honor Society,

Math Honor Society, Fairfield Bank Award. Athetic accomplishments: Two year varsity starter, All-conference soccer, Three year varsity track and field, captain. Most memorable thing about high school: My friends and th people Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve interacted with. Biggest influence in life: The people around me, my friends and family. If I could change one thing in the world it would be: Healthcare, make it easy to be healthy What it means to be named a Scholar Athete: It feels good to be recognized for my athletic and academic achievements. Athletics has always seperated me from my intellectual peers and this award is a testiment to my acievement. College Plans: University of Connecticut, Combined program in medicine, BS/MD program.


9

TheSportsDept.com - Print Edition

GHS boys volleyball loses momentum, are runners up

June 2013

By Evan Macy Sports Editor

SHELTON — Everything was going Glastonbury’s way. And then it wasn’t. The Tomahawks looked poised to capture the Class L volleyball title last Friday night after a sharp first set, but the No. 1 seed lost momentum, and the championship, to Staples in four games. “I felt the first game we were doing everything well,” Glastonbury head coach Pat Ryan said of the dramatic, 26-24 decision in the Tomahawks’ favor. “After that, maybe the guys were getting a little over anxious, starting to watch for balls, not let them hit over us. We want to be low and tight to the net, get a lot of penetration and not give any good angles, and then we got over anxious out there.” Whatever it was, the Tomahawks slipped from a 7-7 tie in Game No. 2, to a 17-25 defeat. “Staples did give us opportunities as the match went on,” Ryan said, “but we didn’t leave those windows open for very long.” The Tomahawks trailed for the rest of the way, and looked like a different team at times during the second half of the title match.

Evan Macy | Staff Matthew Cyr and Stephen Matyas with the trophy.

Unforced errors seemed to seal Glastonbury’s fate in the third and fourth games, as the Wreckers convincingly won 25-13, and then fended off a Tomahawk rally in Game No. 4, 25-23. “We expected a couple of things coming in,” Ryan said. “We blocked pretty well, but when that started to go away, balls were rattling through. Our defense had to hold back for hard hits and then the tips started dropping at us. As a group, it started to cascade into a series of things where when one thing wasn’t working, somebody had to try and do something else that wasn’t their normal spot to cover.” The Tomahawks’ big names still put up

Evan Macy | Staff The Tomahawks line up before the finals start.

Evan Macy | Staff Glastonbury’s Skyler Schultz with the spike.

big numbers, as Matthew Cyr finished his Glastonbury career with 18 kills and 18 digs to lead the offense. Matthew Alvarez did his job with equal aplomb, collecting 41 assists in the defeat. Another senior, Matthew Houston, had 17 digs, while classmates Jack O’Callahan and Stephen Matyas each had seven kills respectively. “I know their guys were definitely hungry for it,” Ryan said of perennial volleyball power Staples. “They haven’t won the last couple of years and they worked very hard for it.”

All season long, Ryan knew he had a special team. Their teamwork and attitude earned them the No. 1 seed, and though the season ended earlier than they might have hoped, the program experienced a big victory last Friday. “I had a good group of guys,” the coach said. “They’re very experienced. All season long they were able to maintain it. Aside from that I can’t be happier with the way we played. We played some of our best volleyball tonight and some of our less optimal volleyball.”

Community MVP: Curley invaluable behind the scenes By Evan Macy Sports Editor

Few realize what it takes to make an entire athletic program run smoothly. An athletic director has a lot of help, and a lot of responsibilities that are not limited to just getting the teams out on the field each spring day. Luckily for Glastonbury AD Trish Witkin, the Tomahawks have Dawna Curley. “She sits in the background of everything we do,” Witkin said, “when really, she’s on the foreground of everything we do.” Whether it’s coordinating with various members of the athletic staff, performing numerous clerical duties, handling phone calls, receiving visitors, getting the mail, making copies, Curley does everything necessary to help Glastonbury’s student athletes compete at a high level every day. And as a result, nearly all of Glastonbury’s teams have made strong tournament runs this spring. “She’s the first person to volunteer when I need help,” Witkin said. “If I’m

short on ticket sellers, if I want to bounce an idea off her, I always go to her on those things. She had a son who was a student athlete also, but her reliability and wherewithal about athletics makes other things possible for myself to be able to go out and take care of those other things, there’s comfort knowing she has it covered.” A Glastonbury staff member for 15 years, Curley has also taken a lead role with the various award and recognitions the athletic program bestows on its best and brightest. “One of the big things that Dawna does is she manages our entire awards program,” Witkin said, “And being a program as large as we are with as many programs we have, that’s no small feat. That’s calculating all the certificates and pins we will need all season and keeping track of varsity letters.” Curley is a big sports fan, citing basketball as her favorite, the sport her son played in high school. “It’s about the kids,” Curley says. “They make it all worth it.” “When I think of Dawna I think of the nuts and bolts of the athletic depart-

ment,” Witkin said. “We cannot be successful at what we do, we can not get the job done the way that we do without her effort and support.” Never seeking recognition or praise, Curley has positively impacted the lives of hundreds pf students passing through the hallways at Glastonbury High each year. And her legacy is making sports readily available, efficient, and worthwhile for every Glastonbury student. “She is a tremendous part of our staff,” Witkin said. “She was here before

me. She is a historian. When I came in six years ago I leaned on her tremendously for her knowledge and history, in how we did things and what the best processes are. She’s tremendous in that area.” The Glastonbury athletics program as a whole is a model for the state. And much of the credit goes to Curley’s work behind the scenes. “We’re afforded the opportunity to expand our job, because Dawna’s holding down the fort. “

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June 2013

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Athletes from Hartford make impact, home with local teams By Danny Atkinson Staff Writer

A great majority of local athletes are fortunate to play their sports, and grow up in a great community, like Enfield, like South Windsor or like Glastonbury. They are taught their sport by talented coaches and learn in school from dedicated teachers. However, there are a handful of prominent local athletes who have grown up and live under very different circumstances than those of their teammates. These athletes are currently or formally were citizens of Hartford. For them, being able to attend firstrate high schools in the communities surrounding Hartford is a once in a lifetime chance. It has opened up their worldview and given them academic, social and athletic opportunities they may have never been exposed to otherwise. These athletes are making an impact both in the classroom and on the field each and every season of the school year. Overall, 28 suburban schools take part in this program. Glastonbury is one of eight local high schools in The-

SportsDept.com footprint which benefit from this program. Five athletes, Tyron Williams of Suffield High, Tarchee Brown of Rockville, Owen Bewry of Somers, Matt Rodriguez of Windsor Locks, and Tajha Lewis of East Windsor are all members of this group. Each of them grew up in Hartford, and only Brown now lives outside of the capitol city. This quintet has embraced the opportunity to attend schools outside of Hartford, and believe their decision has had an overwhelming impact on their lives. Tyron Williams is in his senior year at Suffield, and has starred for its basketball team during his time there. Williams quickly acclimated to the environment at Suffield and embraced all the school had to offer, particularly on the academic front. He became involved in the school’s agro-science program, which is not offered to the same extent at Capitol Prep, which he originally wanted to attend before joining the Hartford Region Open Choice Program. Williams has clearly enjoyed being able to closely study plants and nature for four years, and said that he had the ideal academic experience at Suffield.

Williams’s statements are echoed by the other four athletes, who emphasized how attending schools outside of Hartford exposed them to a more challenging and comprehensive academic environments. “The classes at Somers are more interesting and challenging,” said Owen Bewry, a junior who plays hoops for the Spartans. “The teachers here develop a close relationship with you and make sure that you understand the material and are giving 100 percent in class.” “I am in a much better learning environment at Windsor Locks then I would have been at a Hartford school,” said Matt Rodriguez, a senior who competes for the Raiders track teams. “It is much quieter at Windsor Locks, and I am able to have a very wide range of classes. The teachers here are great, and almost all my classes have been interesting.” Tarchee Brown said that there were stark differences between the learning and social environments at Hartford Public and Rockville High. Brown attended Hartford Public for his first two years of high school before transferring to Rockville as a junior when his mother

Suffield basketball player Tyron Williams. moved to Vernon. The basketball star stated that it was much easier for him to focus on his work this year because the classes were more demanding. “Everyone is a family at Rockville,” he said. “I felt like I belonged from the moment I started here.” “It is nice to not have to deal with all the commotion and drama at the city schools,” said Bewry, who was encouraged to attend Somers by his father. “I feel more comfortable and safe at Somers.” ATHLETES contued on page 12

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Opportunities for Hartford athletes ample in area Continued from Page 10 Harry Bellucci coaches the football team at Hartford Public High, and Wendell Williams coaches girls’ basketball and volleyball for Weaver High. Both men agreed that athletes who participate in the Open Choice Program are exposed to a better and more rigorous academic environment than they would have been at one of Hartford’s high schools. “The kids who do Open Choice have a lot more options than those at Hartford Public,” Wendell Williams said. “They are able to choose from a lot more classes and can take a wide variety of subjects. At suburban schools, they are able to focus on certain subjects and prepare themselves for majors.” However, Bellucci said that the tougher academic standards at these schools can sometimes backfire on athletes who are not prepared for the demands they will face. “A lot of kids are not ready academically for the challenge,” Bellucci said. “You have kids who can be successful in the honors programs here [Hartford Public] or at other city schools, and then they go somewhere else and are behind and over-matched in those same programs.” Each member of the quintet said that attending their high schools had allowed them to build relationships and friend-

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Rockville basketball’s Tarchee Brown. ships with students who grew up in different and more diverse backgrounds. Sophomore Tajha Lewis is one of the top athletes on the Windsor Locks track teams. She was encouraged to attend Windsor Locks by her mother. She believes that by doing so, she has ultimately expanded her world view. “I’ve learned a lot from my teachers, and meeting so many students from different backgrounds has made me more open-minded,” Lewis said. “I’ve definitely made a lot of new friends who have differ-

ent opinions on issues, and it has started to change how I look at the world.” Tyron Williams has similar sentiments to Lewis after attending Suffield for four years. “I’ve had amazing opportunities to meet people from different backgrounds at Suffield,” he said. “I feel like these experiences have taught me how to build close relationships with all types of people, and have ultimately prepared me for college life.” Bellucci and Wendell Williams both said that the Open Choice Program does a great job of allowing Hartford residents to meet peers from different cultures. However, they each said that athletes at their schools who have participated in the program told them that it was difficult for them to build lasting relationships with their friends and teammates. They were unable to spend time socially with friends and teammates because of the distance between Hartford and the towns they attended school in. Bellucci and Williams also stated that these athletes found it hard to juggle school and sports when they had to travel to and from Hartford each day, sometimes relying on public transportation to do so. Each member of the quintet said that they have truly enjoyed competing for their high schools. Brown enjoyed play-

ing for Hartford Public, but said that being part of the Rockville program has been a great experience for him. “Everyone was very welcoming form the minute I got here,” he said. “Coach [Peter McCann] taught me a lot about basketball and helped me with my confidence. He always expects us to compete hard. You can’t slack off for a second.” Rodriguez said that track drives him and inspires him to give his all. Rodriguez plans to continue his track career in college. Bellucci and Williams both argued that athletes at their schools get more out of sports than their counterparts at suburban schools. They each said that their players face a tougher level of competition and that as a result have to fight harder for playing time and recognition. “My players get to prove themselves against the best of the best at Hartford Public,” Bellucci said. “You’re not going to face the elite programs at a smaller school like Suffield.” Williams, Brown, Bewry, Rodriguez and Lewis understand that the transition from high school to college will be a tough one, but each is very confident that they will be prepared for it because of the lessons they learned from their teachers, classmates and coaches.

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Youth

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2013 Congratulations CLASS OF

June 2013

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