Torrington's Tracy joins the elite
The Torrington football '29 Club added another member on Monday night. Ernie Tracy III is joined by his father Ernie Tracy Jr. and his mother Tracy at the banquet held at P-Sams in Torrington.
Torrington's Tracy joins the elite
TORRINGTON – It’s been 69 years now since 16-year old Carl Avallone was selected as the sixth recipient of the Torrington Football Club 1929 award, an honor created to recognize the undefeated, 1929 state champion team and given to a football player of good academic standing, leadership and discipline.
Through the decades and a lifetime that special night in in 1944 during World War II has remained special for the now stately 85-year-old Avallone. And so has the club that orchestrated it all.
Avallone was on hand Monday night at P-Sam’s as the 1929 Football Club honored its 74th recipient, Torrington High senior Ernie Tracy III. He wouldn’t have missed it. His was a season award to a lifetime club.
“It is a grand tradition,” said Avallone. “I had the distinction of meeting some of the 1929 team that night. It was upstairs at the Venetian Room and it was a great night.”
Avallone’s sentiment was shared as evidenced by a quick scan of the room. The 1949 recipient Lou Zanderigo was there (also looking pretty stately) along with 1963 honoree Carmen Ammirato. A host of former honorees that included Mike Ciesco (2001) and Jordan Capitanio (2003) the young bucks now leading the club were included in the crowd of 35 or so.
“I do my little part to be here,” said Ammirato who lives in West Hartford. “Each year the recipients seem to get better and better. The longevity of it and the fact that so many people put time into it to make it happen make it special.”
Tracy knows what it means to be a member of the 1929 Club.
‘It’s really a great honor to get an award that so many great players before me have received,” said Tracy nattily attired in a black suit. “All of the Torrington High history is what coach (Gaitan Rodriguez) is trying to build on. It adds to being part of this very exclusive group of people.”
The 6-foot-1, 260 pound Tracy had a superb season for the Red Raiders playing both the offensive and defensive lines. But of equal value if not more was his leadership. In a season that started in tumult, due to off-season arrests associated with the football team a coaching change, the Raiders need a an example to lead and that was Tracy.
“As soon as we lost our coaching staff it was up to myself and the other captains to keep everyone together,” said Tracy. “I sat on the hiring board and tried to help get everyone assimilated to coach Rodriguez’ program.
“We also had to police every with stuff that normally wouldn’t have been a big deal. We had to crack down on everything. We weren’t going to take any chances.”
Tracy is currently in his first year of swimming, specializing in the 50 freestyle. He doesn’t as much slice his way through the water as he does bull his way down the lane. He says he is, “not exactly terrible for a kid into the sport for the first time.’
West Virginia looms on the college horizon. He has already been accepted there but still has an interest in Maryland, UConn and Coast Guard Academy. An ROTC member he would like to continue that and study abroad. Stay tuned.
But this night was about the 1929 Club. He will go to college and move on. But, he will never move away from the 1929 Club. There have only been 74 members in the distinguished group that had its beginnings during the Great Depression, moved through WWI and Elvis, Vietnam, landing on the moon, 9/11 and much of the 20th century.
They keep coming back because they never left. And that little name tag that all recipients wear is like a gold medal. It means that much. Tracy knows that and will get to know it better as the years move on.
The 1929 Club has always been one night that lasts a lifetime. Welcome to the club Ernie Tracy III.