Let's remember to appreciate what coaches like Gaitan Rodriguez have done for our youth. A reporters observation.
TORRINGTON: It was a play just before the half that changed the complexion of the game that may not have gone their way even if it had not occurred.
It wasn’t the play that bothered me, it was the reaction from someone on the Torrington side of the field, a fan that made me turn my head in disbelieve.
Torrington quarterback, Connor Finn, one of the best young men to come out of Torrington this year, had just thrown a 74-yard pick six that put Wethersfield up by a 20-0 score with five seconds left in the half.
To that point, the Raiders, who were ranked #4 in Class S and posted a 9-1 regular season, their best in decades, had played the Eagles well and had avoided the big mistake.
Trying to make something happen in the face of a heavy rush by the visitors, Finn rolled out to buy time before letting one go that he wishes he had back.
At the end of the play, a fan near the entrance to the Robert H. Frost yelled out, “Hey coach, you stink.”
Rodriguez himself noticed, as did others on the sidelines who, like me, were in disbelieve.
As the coach turned in that direction, the fan continued, saying “yeah you” to Rodriguez as to reinforce his point.
This same fan mentioned something to the third year head coach as he left the field at the half but I’m not sure if he noticed.
I’ll tell you what. The reason we sometimes have trouble (society in general) at getting and keeping qualified coaches to teach our youth is because of knuckleheads like this who have not a clue of what it takes to lead young men.
Rodriguez has done a magnificent job of taking the Torrington program to new heights that he will look to keep them at over the remainder of his career.
Standing on the sidelines of sporting events as I do, I get to here all kind of things, mostly good, some ridiculous.
I’ll never understand how we treat our coaches who for the most part are underpaid and working for real close to third world country wages yet some feel the need to blame the coach for what goes on during a play that he is on the sidelines for.
Mistakes happen in games at every level.
Finn was certainly not trying to throw an interception. He was trying to do what he has done since he broke onto the high school scene as a freshman after starring for the Torrington Warriors during his middle school days.
The kids a proven winner and will be a leader in whatever he decides to do in the future.
He got a lot of that from his head coach, a Torrington graduate who has restored the pride in the football program and how his players are perceived in the community.
The reason I find this so troubling is that I have seen it before at Torrington and at other high schools.
I think back to when my friend Tony Turina, a legendary boys basketball coach at THS who helped send more tremendous young men out into the world during his tenure with the Raiders that included times he would come in through the back door of the school to avoid the nonsense he would get from parents who thought their Johnny was the best player and why wasn’t he starting.
Well, Johnny wasn’t starting because all he did was dribble the ball of his foot every time he had a chance or was a human turnover waiting to happen.
Not that he didn’t grow up to be a doctor or lawyer, he just wasn’t a very good player, it’s okay.
My point is this. The Raiders went 3-8 and 5-6 in the first two years under Rodriguez. In year three, they lost but one game during the regular and finish with a 9-2 mark and played football in December. They may have dropped a 33-6 decision to a talented Wethersfield team but they accomplished much in 2015.
Rodriguez is tough, trust me. The comment is already gone from his memory, he’s moved on. He’s a confident man with a great family that includes a majority of the community of Torrington.
My advice to anyone who feels the need to tell the coach “you stink” is to take a good look in the mirror and wake up.
I don’t know the person who said this and don’t want to. I prefer to point out what is working out in the world and who is making the world a better place, especially for our young people.
That includes Rodriguez and his coaching staff, along with most coaches out there trying to do the right thing by the young men and women they have been charged with teaching and leading.