Ramblings from the Desk of Mr. Gaff. A recap of an eventful two weeks in June.
TORRINGTON: Wow. What a month so far.
June is barely half over and already we have experienced enough thrill and chills to last a summer and we have just gotten started.
The sixth month of the year started with a tremendous Litchfield County Sports Show, live from Applebee’s on Monday, June 2 with special guests Rod Dixon and Bill Burgess.
These are two men are actively changing thousands of children’s lives through an amazing program known as kIDSMARATHON.
It’s a program, started by Dixon, a four-time Olympian and winner of the New York City Marathon in 1983, which focuses on nutrition and physical activity when it matters most.
The age group most at risk these days starts as early as six and runs through until the pre-teen years. If these children get hooked on eating right and getting enough physical activity (no, video games of people running around killing zombies doesn’t count) at this age, the results are amazing.
More amazing is the fact that these kids run the equivalent of a marathon (26 miles) over an eight week period. Their efforts pay off big time as they get to run the last mile with the legendary New Zealand native, which the local schools did on Saturday, June 7 at Plum Hill in Litchfield.
To watch these young people soak in everything around them that day was truly inspirational.
If you didn’t get goose bumps as these future leaders of our world followed Dixon around the track with that youthful enthusiasm, you needed to check your pulse.
Great job boys, we look forward to joining forces with you to spread the word on kIDSMARATHON.
Also on the show that night were four members of the Torrington Titans and General Manager Joey Abis.
Hosting the show that night with me was our good friend Dan Lovallo, whose stories of interviews with the likes of Mickey Mantle and other Yankee greats, brought great content to the fast moving and energetic program.
Our next Applebee’s program takes place on Monday, June 30 from 6-7 p.m.
Stop by and say hi!
The end of May and start of June had brought with it a decision from the Gaffney house to do something we enjoyed doing back in 2008 when we hosted a Titans player for the summer.
19-year old Anthony Capuano arrived after a six and a half hour ride from Bangor, Maine on Saturday, May 24 to start a summer that will see him play 56 games between June 4 and August 8.
Capuano and the Titans play in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League which began play on Wednesday, June 4.
He, like most of this year group of players from New England and beyond, seem like a good mix of talent and character, something sorely missing from the past few seasons here in Torrington.
On Monday, June 16, Capuano and three of his teammates, RJ Going, Jack St Clair and Chris Scura visited a local elementary school in nearby Harwinton and spoke to about 160 kids about who they are and what they do.
It was a great couple of hours that saw the players not only tell their stories of why they are here but of signing hundreds of autographs, something they will not soon forget.
To these second and third graders, including LCS writer John Nestor’s twins, Jack and Samantha, look up to these players as if they were taking to Derek Jeter or David Wright.
Was troubling though. I asked the second group to raise their hands if there were any Yankee or Red Sox fans in the group and the split was pretty even.
Not a Mets fan in the bunch. Obviously taught who to root for by very smart parents.
Back to the month.
On Sunday, June 8th it was time for the 38th running of the Litchfield Hills Road Race or as I like to call it, that three day party in Litchfield with a race stuck in there somewhere.
The Gaffney tent went up early, as did the Wilson tent right next to us. It’s busy on that Green way before it should be on any Sunday morning but if you don’t get there early, you have no shot at getting a spot.
After an adventurous year with my knee, riding the press truck seemed out of the question but after a lost golf cart gave me no option, I sucked it up and jumped (okay, walked up the ladder slowly) on the bad boy and took the ride around the 7.1 mile course.
I learned how much one depends upon their knees when riding the never evenly paced truck that hold some of the best writing talent in the region.
Had to take a few less photos in order to hold on just a little tighter so as not to fall off said truck.
Bad enough we almost ran a golf cart off when it got in our way at the top of Gallows Hill. Rookie on the course!!!
Then came Tuesday, June 10 and Saturday, June 14. Two great days for one small town that represents what small town America is all about.
The Thomaston girls and boys softball and baseball teams took all of us who cover Berkshire League sports for a living on one astounding ride this season.
We won’t soon forget the girls run to the Class S basketball State Championship not that long ago at Mohegan Sun.
How could anybody top that?
Well, these Golden Bears figured out a way.
On Tuesday in a bug infested semi-final game in Stratford at DeLuca Field, the softball team looked dead to rights.
Down 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh after not showing much, if any life all day.
Turns out they had Coventry right where they wanted them, especially with sophomore Morgan Sanson at the plate.
Sanson launched a solo home run over the center field fence then followed it up two innings later with a game winning single and a trip to the finals.
Meanwhile, 45-minutes up the road in Berlin at Sage Field, the baseball team was preparing to make their own history against Cromwell.
The Bears would grab a 5-2 lead then hold on for a 5-4 win and a place in the finals on Saturday.
True to form, both the softball team and the Thomaston fan bus made the trip from Stratford north to Berlin.
That’s just how this town supports their 270 student/athletes, they show up.
Wednesday through Friday must have been a blur for the town as they prepared to send both teams into championship games on Saturday.
The boys were up first in Middletown at noon, the girls three and a half hours later in West Haven.
It became apparent quickly that this was not going to be the baseball team’s day when they fell behind 4-0 after one half inning.
While the Bears boys would fall 8-0 to Portland, they gave their fans one remarkable season that they will not soon forget but in true Bear form, they team made the trek south to support the softball team.
Having two teams in the State Championship game is great, having them both lose on the same day, not so much but that’s how it looked early when Old Saybrook jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings.
Anybody who knew the Bears reputation should have known better to have written them off but come on, down six runs in a State finals? What were the odds of a comeback?
Well, turns out about 100 percent, as sure as the sun coming up and going down every day.
A two-run fifth was followed by a four run sixth and a walk-off single by Erin O’Neill and another trophy was coming back to the small town that celebrated with fire trucks and police cars leading the buses back.
Best part of all?
The girls, now the owners of two State titles in less than three months, invited the baseball team to ride back in glory with them.
They wanted them to be part of the celebration. A terrific gesture by some great student/athletes.
Here’s an ending stat for you.
The senior class at Thomaston High School is made up of 71 students.
59 of them are going to college. That’s 83 percent. In 2013, the national average was 65 percent.
Winning breeds winning on an even bigger scale.