A look back at our favorite stories from 2015. Celebrating the excellence and positive that is all around Torrington, CT.
TORRINGTON: You know, bad news travels fast. Used to be we would say that good news travels fast but somewhere in the negative world that sometimes swirls around us, the better part of the day is swept aside.
The City of Torrington, one my family has called home since 1991, has itself been under a cloud of sorts over the last view months and I’m here to say that while any city, town, three-tent dirt outpost will have their share of problems, the majority of this small city and small town is doing just fine thank you.
How can I be so sure?
I’m out in it every day.
If you want to take the pulse of a locations goodness, one needs not stray too far from the athletic fields or school activities portion of any of the schools in said town.
Let me take you on a walk around the community of Torrington to show you what I mean.
On Sunday, April 26, I attended the Torrington High School Hall of Fame dinner at the Elks Club in town.
I’ve written it before but it bears repeating that it’s a night that showcases the core of Torrington with a generational representation that is second to none.
The organizers of the event, the HOF Committee are made up of names you often see when anything good is happening that benefits the citizens of Torrington.
Patty Fairchild, Toni Tavano, Joanne Arsego, Nancy Famiglietti, Janet Giampaolo, Pat Strawson, Tony Turina, Gerry Carbone, Patrick Finn, Mike McKenna and Scott Langeheim.
The number of lives that the above mentioned folks have had a positive impact on are in numbers too high to calculate. It represents coaches, players, parents and grandparents who still call Torrington home and work diligently to make sure the home field is protected.
When you look around the room, generations are in attendance from the Fritch family to the Colangelo family to the Pond family and on and on and on.
All working to keep traditions alive, all working to take care of the town the call home.
Let’s move over to the high school, a school that has produced winners, champions in sport and more importantly, in life.
THS took a pretty big hit back in 2013 when charges were filed against four students for activities that happened when they were out of school and not part of any team.
The actions of these students was horrible and each has had to face the consequences of their actions and will for the better part of the rest of their lives, as they should.
Torrington High School, though, seemed to take the brunt of the hit in the image of what it was like to attend the home of the Raiders.
All I see when I go to any sporting event or band performance or a brilliant play going on in the school is a winning attitude that far exceeds any actions of the very few bad apples.
That goes for the parents as well. These good apples have not fallen far from a tree that does it’s best to help produce productive citizens who enter the world ready.
Every team we see, from the track to the turf to the diamond or in the pool is made up of student/athletes who are of course not perfect (they’re kids) but by choosing to be part of something bigger than themselves have given themselves a chance to be better than they thought.
It’s about a positive environment, it’s about thinking positive, and it’s about self-fulfilling positive prophecies.
THS has a remarkable band, an award winning band, a band that is known, respected and admired by other towns, cities and schools up and down the East Coast.
As I made my way to the magnificent new Robert H. Frost Complex on a sunny spring day, I beamed with pride myself at how great the turf and track came out. I watched, reported, tried not to fall and chronicled it coming to life last fall when nobody else did.
We now have an envy-worthy facility that hosted 14 different teams on Saturday in the first ever Torrington Track Invitational, put on by another terrific group in Torrington, the Varsity Alumni Club.
The VAC is another organization that exists to care and help and does both extremely well.
Its membership is led by another core group that holds T-Town near and dear to their hearts and tries to do everything in their power to keep the past connected to the future while taking care of the present.
Mario Longobucco, Paul Denza, Ed Arum, Michelle Cook, Paul O’Heron and Ed Arum are just a few of the behind the scene folks who wake up in the morning thinking about how to make things better for the youth of the city.
The Raider 5K run, the Alumni soccer and basketball games are all things that keep the memories, friendships and traditions going in any town and Torrington does it very well.
I mentioned Langenheim, the former Syracuse lineman who does everything in his power to help keep another legendary organization, the 1929 Football Club, honoring the best in Raider football for that year.
Since 1939, the group has been honoring one Raider who not only excelled on the gridiron but in the classroom and community as well.
The 2014 recipient, Ben Bonvicini is part of one of those Raider families that are so dominant in this community of just around 38,000.
Fred Bonvicini has a voice and presence that is only outdone by the generosity in his soul and it has spread to his boys as they become part of the story of the Raiders at this time.
The last names of Tracy, Tsopanides, Denza, Lytton, Capitanio, Ciesco, Carbone, Grosso, Perusse, Cerruto, Ponte, Jacobs, Abbott and many, many more make up the fabric of the revered ’29 Club.
After the Raiders took that big hit in 2013, they turned to a man who bled and sweated on the gridiron during his days at THS, Gaiton Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was the perfect guy for the job and has made the program over in his own image, a high character, high expectation, winning off the scoreboard resolve.
The Fritch family has impacted hundreds of lives and continues to do so with papa Michael at the helm of the girls’ basketball team. Michael Jr. is leading and teaching the boys’ soccer team while daughter Erika is developing the future right next to her dad as junior varsity coach.
Have I mentioned the Cerruto family?
A bit but two members, George and his daughter Kaylee are keeping the fires burning in the developmental stages of the Police Athletic League where Kaylee was just named the national Women Volunteer of the Year while dad has been feeding the high school players for over 15 years.
I look to where some of the best photo’s in the Northwest Corner come from and I have to think of the Killackey family with Marianne handling the lens activity while husband Bob coaches or volunteers whenever and wherever needed.
Want to see the next great trumpet player on the world’s biggest stage?
Then get to know one Tom Killackey who has used his time at Torrington High School to get himself real familiar with performers like Wynton Marsalis at locations that included the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
And oh yeah, he played soccer for Fritch Jr and blasted out a great National Anthem before most home games.
Another great family in one tremendous city. There are thousands more upbeat and positive stories around us.
So the next time you hear somebody talk down to your city. Torrington natives, tell them to stop taking the easy and lazy way out. Take a minute and catch somebody doing something right.
It’s not hard and you will be so much better off for the effort.