Fritch gets to 400 wins. Raiders blow by Woodland, 53-21.
The THS girls basketball coaching staff. (L-R) Erika Pratt, Barbara Beebe, Michael J. Fritch and Joe Lefkowski. Fritch posted his 400th win on Thursday night in a 53-21 win over Woodland.
TORRINGTON: It was appropriate.
The sight of Torrington head coach Michael J. Fritch helping an injured player off the court following win number 400 sums up what this has always been about for the Raiders' head guy.
It’s always been about the players since he first took the job some 22 years ago and will remain that way for as long as he stays roaming the sidelines.
“That’s what I get the most satisfaction out of,” Fritch said. “I have had some terrific players over the years. They are the ones who have made the program what it is.”
Win number 400 was a formality for the Raiders, who disposed of Woodland by a 53-21 score behind 16 points from Brie Pergola in a game they never trailed.
If you look up on the banner that hangs in the Connie Donahue Gymnasium, you will see a majority of the highest scoring girls ever to play at the school were under the guidance of Fritch.
It’s an All-Star list that features six different 1,000 point scorers, including his daughter, Erika Pratt, who passed the century mark with 1,069 points in 1997 and capped with the all-time leading girl’s scorer in Sarah Royals with 1,606.
Three different players played Division I college ball. Christine Arsego (1,071 in 2002), Royals and Claudia Rizzi, while many more have gone on to play Division III over the two-plus decades.
“It’s a testament to the kids that they have stayed with the program,” Fritch said. “I’ve had great coaches, great families. It’s been a nice journey.”
His current team is a perfect example of how Fritch and his coaching staff, made up of his daughter Erlika, Barbara Beebe and Joe Lefkowski, have made something that didn’t look like much in practice, but has become a very strong basketball team.
Take away an early season overtime loss to Holy Cross and the Raiders may have just run the table. Not much stands in their way over their last five except for the regular season finale against Watertown on February 17, Senior Night.
Torrington is now 14-1 and hasn’t been challenged of late, winning their last three games by 18, 34 and 32.
This year, more perhaps than in the past, Fritch has relied on a strong assistant and volunteer coaching staff that brings a wide variety of strengths to the table.
Pratt, who is thought to be in line to take over for her father when he retires, has had a remarkable record as junior varsity coach in recent years, and she and Beebe were both terrific players in high school who each went on to play in college.
Both started families while they were on the sidelines and the area behind the home bench has become a family section for Beebe (three children) and Pratt (two).
For Fritch, this is the best of both worlds.
“When I started coaching, my kids (Mike Jr, Chris and Erika) were gym rats,” Fritch said, “I love having them all around me.”
It truly brings home the point of family when three generations can be hanging out courtside watching someone that they love do what he loves.
400 wins. That’s something. How many more?
Well let’s see, Pergola is a sophomore with two plus years left. Time will tell where the final number falls but one thing is for sure.
The fire and passion that is Michael J. Fritch still burns white hot, even in 30-point wins.
It’s always been about the kids and will always be about the kids.