A look back at our favorite stories of 2015. August: Nine More Greats Garner Torrington Varsity Alumni Club Awards.
TORRINGTON: In this fast paced age of looking ahead before the day has even begun, one organization that has supported Torrington High School athletes for 70 years now was reminding nine stellar student athletes to remember where they have come from.
The Torrington Varsity Alumni Club held their annual banquet at P-Sam’s in Torrington on Wednesday night and honored each of the nine with a $1000.00 scholarship, a tradition begun long ago by two visionaries, Frank Russo and Andy Pace.
These two men who had a dream of a club that they hoped would continue long into the future, awarding scholarships with great pride, mixed with humor and a tradition started by a legendary coach whose name adorns the main wall of the high school gymnasium.
The great Connie Donahue came up with the thought of the VAC all the way back in 1945 when he created it as a way to honor former Torrington high school athletes, many of whom had just returned from World War II.
Their initial offering was $100.00 and was given in 1948. Since that time, the number has grown to $1000.00 per winner and a combined total of over $294,000.00.
Master of Ceremonies, Paul O’Heron, spoke of the two gentlemen who continue to make the trip back to Torrington to celebrate one of the best nights of the year around here.
“In my mind,” O’Heron said, “They have done more for the youth of Torrington than anybody. This club started in 1945 and these guys put in countless hours working for the youth of Torrington.”
The history portion of the night belonged to our good friend Tony Turina who was asked to speak to the students about a subject near and dear to his heart, THS sports and those who have played it.
Coach has always been about remembering the past, the great players who have graced the playing field of Torrington High School throughout the decades, all the way back to 1901.
“My challenge to you young ones is this,” Turina said, “Don’t forget your past. Make sure your kids know everything about Torrington High School. Keep the traditions going so the accomplishments of these people here continue on as well.”
Nine of the brightest and most diverse group of student/athletes received the honors on Wednesday night and the group truly represented some of the best young people Torrington will be sending out into the world.
Ben Bonvicini, Emmy Fedor, Shelby Howe, Taylor Howe, Thomas Killackey, Matt Traub, Lindsay Trobel, Jack Wassik and Tim Considine Jr. all brought a little something different to the table in a year that the committee that decides who is worthy had an extremely hard time deciding who would get the honors this year.
The quality of the applicants was that good.
Bonvicini was the tough as nails heart and soul of the Raider football team and is off (already) to the University of Connecticut while Considine Jr. (who was on vacation with his family) filled the same role on the boys’ basketball team and takes off for James Madison University later in August.
Fedor is off to Marist College after exceling in Cross Country, Swimming and Track and Field and Trobel will join her after a stellar career in Soccer, Indoor and Outdoor Track.
Shelby Howe is off to the University of Hartford after her time playing basketball, soccer, volleyball and track. Her twin, Taylor will be attending Randolph Macon Academy following her days on the Soccer, Basketball and Track and Field teams.
Killackey played soccer for the Raiders and played a magnificent trumpet before most of his own games and will be taking his extreme talents to William Patterson University this fall.
Wassik and Traub leave behind some kind of legacy in the pool for the Raiders as each set the bar higher for the next generation of Torrington swimmer. Wassik will be attending Union College while Traub will be performing at a Division I program, Boston University.
As is an annual tradition during this night, one member of the VAC committee asks the winners a series of questions that they have a few minutes to think about but then must get up and answer them in original fashion in front of a crowded room.
No problem for these superstars. In fact, when asked to state who had the biggest influence on his life (without mentioning his parents), one even invoked the name of a super hero.
Traub went the Clark Kent route and it had the room roaring.
More than anything, these are young people who you can easily say are simple good people who come from good people.
Nine future leaders who left an inerasable mark on THS and nine of the nicest, most respectful young men and women who will be missed at Torrington High School.