Scott and Linda Arigoni. A remarkable story of love and devotion.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
The home of Scott and Linda Arigoni revolves around sports, driving their three sons to various athletic events, watching their games, and making sure the three-way soccer matches in a field Scott built near the Klug Hill Road farmhouse don’t get out of hand.
But the Arigonis wouldn’t have it any other way. And with a father that was once a highly touted pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, a legend in local amateur baseball circuits in which he played into his 50’s after he retired from pro ball, an avid outdoorsman, and a longtime high school and college basketball referee, how could it be otherwise?
On a brilliantly sunny and mild fall afternoon, the Arigonis' youngest son, Yandel, 14, was buzzing around on a quad, while twins Sean and Noah, 16, were watching a soccer game on television. Yandel and Sean play the game for Torrington’s Oliver Wolcott Technical High School, while Noah is a member of the Litchfield-based Wamogo Regional High School team. That all necessitates some time management around the house, with the parents swapping assignments taking the boys to and from their sporting events.
But the parents love it, don’t let them kid you. “Pretty much all our kids (the couple had eight children by previous marriages) were into sports, so we are used to the hectic schedules,” said Scott.
Yandel, Sean and Noah were adopted by the Arigonis shortly after they were born. Scott and Linda have been foster parents for two decades and more than 200 at risk children have passed through the front door of their 200-year-old farmhouse, some staying for short periods of time, others longer. Many have gone on to become successful adults, the Arigonis bringing them into their warm, comfortable and, most importantly, safe home to escape often times terrible situations. The Arigonis have worked with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families in their capacity as foster parents.
“We’re blessed to have had so many good kids and blessed to have been able to have been able to adopt the three boys,” said Linda, a mild-mannered woman and local teacher who has cooked too many meals for her children for her to remember. Said her husband, “When the kids come here they get a good night kiss and are tucked into bed, which is something many of them never had before in their lives. It’s been difficult for some kids from the inner cities and the older kids and they wanted out because it is so quiet here and rural. You can’t walk down to Dunkin’ Donuts. They would ask what the noises were at night when it was just crickets, animals or wind in the trees.”
While downplaying their roles as foster parents, Linda is pleased to have made a difference in so many youngsters’, and later adults’, lives. “It’s nice to think we have been a service to society. It is especially rewarding when the kids we took in keep in touch and sometimes come back to see us.” Being a foster home also made lasting impressions on the Arigonis’ own children, who saw how kindness, love and direction could change a child’s life around and put them on the right path.
Yandel and the twins have no such worries. They eat and sleep well, being immersed in that caring, attentive environment. “We got lucky that we have been able to raise these boys,” said Linda with a smile. The feeling, the boys say, is mutual. “We were fortunate to be able to be adopted by our mama and papa,” said Sean. “Things could have wound up much worse for us and who knows where we would be.”
While soccer was on the boys’ minds when we chatted, the sport that Sean and Noah excel is in track. Both boys are fast, very fast and seemingly have a future at the collegiate level. In fact, they had just returned from a visit to Springfield College where Sean took a look at the school that has expressed interest in him as a student-athlete. The twins also compete in indoor track, Sean running with the Torrington High School squad because Tech doesn’t have an indoor track and field program during the winter.
Sean’s and Noah’s strengths are the sprints, the 100- and 200-meter runs, with both posting high finishes at dual meets and the Berkshire League and Connecticut Technical Conference championships. They also compete in the 400-meter run, and the 4-by-100 and 4-by-400 meter relays. Sean was voted Most Valuable Performer for his track and field team and Noah won the Coaches Award for track and field at Wamogo this past spring.
Sean set a new school record for Tech in the 100-meter run this spring and made the CTC All-Conference team in track and field. This past summer, the twins, members of the Litchfield Track Club, were Connecticut Junior Olympics 15-16-year-old champs in the 4-by-100-meter relay and 4-by-400-meter relay along with Aiden Reilly and Sean Clinkscales of Torrington High School.
The twins began running around the age of eight, competing in a number of road races, often with their older brother Brett, who is running marathons and competing in Iron Man triathlons in Arizona. As freshmen, Sean and Noah transitioned to running shorter distances. In 2015, they were state and regional 4-by-800-meter relay champions in the Junior Olympics, earning them, along with teammates Pink and Robyn Wright of Goshen, a trip to compete in the National Junior Olympics at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., where they won honorable mention All-America. The twins are both high honor students, which will make their path to college an easier one when coupled with their athletic prowess.
“I like soccer but track is the sport I do the best in,” said Sean, who plays several positions in midfield for the Wildcats. Yandel, by the way, made the Tech team as a freshman, one of only a few to do so this year. He has been playing midfield. Noah plays center midfield for Wamogo. “We like to push one another,” said Noah, who chose to attend Wamogo to pursue the school’s plant science curriculum. “We are competitive with one another in whatever we do.” Sean is enrolled in the Wolcott Tech CADD program, while Yandel is in an exploratory phase of his education career.
Yandel enjoys soccer and plans to play volleyball next spring rather than compete in track and field. He’s also a member of the Forbes Flyers and had been a jump roper since the fifth grade. He’s become so good at it that he won a silver medal in his age group at the USA Jump Rope Nationals in Jacksonville, Fla. earlier this year. He’s also a solid student and plays the piano very well, learning tunes almost immediately and skillful repeating them. He has performed at a number of recitals, nursing homes, at Kid Rock competitions where he won a trophy, in church, and the annual St. Jude Telethon, although he brushes off praise for his musical ability.
All three boys are active in their church youth group and went on a mission trip to Massachusetts this summer where they worked with the homeless and hungry.
“I believe Sean and Noah can compete in college track and/or soccer,” said Scott, getting back to sports. “Sean’s times are at a Division III level right now. Maybe it could be Division I eventually, but it could be Division II, III or maybe NAIA where they wind up. They have been getting interest from colleges and have time to decide and get even faster.”
Scott laughed when asked if the boys wanted at some point to follow in their father’s footsteps and play baseball. “They weren’t interested,” he said. “And they aren’t really into hunting or fishing, although Yandel is a little interested.” The boys chuckled when asked if their father has regaled them with stories of his baseball career. “We have heard them,” said Sean.
Arigoni played seven years in the minor leagues, packing it in after the 1985 season. His rise though the ranks was cut short when he broke his ankle while on a conditioning run. “I have no regrets and I walked away when I felt I had had enough. I had a great time pitching in amateur leagues.”
The boys enjoy hanging out in dad’s “The Lodge” that he built near the main house. It holds his fishing and hunting trophies, as well as gear and mementos from his baseball career. Said Scott, “We will come out here and watch games and just hang out. It’s a great space.”
Back in the house, Yandel was enticed to play a tune on the piano, a sweet piece he played flawlessly, as a soft breeze blew in from outside. It was a relaxing moment in a world of comfort the Arigonis have provided for so many children, including Sean, Noah and Yandel, who are well on their way to being young men of character, intelligence and athletic prowess.
Sometimes in life you luck out.