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2011 Year in Review. July 27. BL Loses One of Its Best in Gamari

POSTED December 28, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                         BL Loses One Of It's Best in Gamari

            WINSTED – It was time and now Mike Gamari has time. So maybe he will go visit his daughter Amanda in Oregon.  He will definitely check up on his son Eric as he coaches the Torrington High boys basketball team this winter. A little golf is on the agenda.

            What Gamari won’t be doing is lending the Berkshire League his vast expertise and guiding the Gilbert School athletic programs. Both the league and school lost one of their most respected figures Wednesday when it was officially announced that Gamari had retired as the Gilbert A.D. after 26 years.

            Pat Cooke, who has been sharing the duties with and learning from Gamari over the past year, will take over as the new A.D.

            “I’ll be 67 in October and it’s time,” said Gamari.

            Maybe not if you talk to some of his fellow A.D.’s like Northwestern Regional’s Fred Williams.

            “We’re losing his leadership, his understanding of athletics and his fairness,” said Williams. “He’s just a great guy and he’s definitely a Gilbert person. Everything he talks about has Gilbert in it. He has been very pleased with Gilbert’s success.’

            Gamari has always been a guy you can deal with, a large part of his value. He was always the guy us reporters went to because he was in the know and never avoided the tough issue or question with a dodge or “it is none of your business.”

            And believe me, that is not always the norm in high school athletic circles. There are many who just don’t want to see anything in the paper that may reflect negatively on their school. Gamari was always the standup guy, fair and honest.

            During my days at the Register Citizen in Torrington if we had a question about anything going on in the Berkshire League, it was Gamari we contacted. He would always provide the explanation and if not home, you knew the call back would be made promptly.

            He is one of those guys that is good at what he does and for so many years enjoyed doing it. He like the job and Gilbert so much he stayed on six years after retiring from his position as a history teacher after 37 years. .

            Of course, it wasn’t much of a retirement. For the good ones it never is. All he gained was a cut in salary and several more hours of sleep. He would get to school at about 10 a.m., stay until about 3 p.m. and then attend an afternoon contest or go home and come back for a night game.

              But there were always the kids, the coaches, the chance to see the maturation process from freshmen to seniors. There has also been that Gilbert success that Williams talked about. Especially but not limited to basketball.

Gamari is an old basketball guy. For 17 years he coached the Yellowjackets. Eric was a star for the Yellowjackets. He reveled in coach Jim Welcome’s dominating teams of the 1990s that included a truckload of BL titles and a couple of state championships.

The team with the tiny gym became a huge power in the state. He wore that mantle proudly. This year’s football excellence that resulted in a spot in the state Class S semifinals produced a monstrous smile.

But, the job of A.D. wears on you. It is 24-7, maybe the most difficult in the building. Sorry all you Principals and vice-principals. Gamari admits Mother Nature has been a tough foe.

‘I won’t miss the rain and snow,” he said now that he doesn’t have to worry about it.

But it goes deeper than that.

“The fact that I had to be a bully and a policeman at some events wore me down,” Gamari said. “The attitude of some fans has changed tremendously in the last 10 years. It is not a comfortable situation.”

So it was time to go. Fan behavior only an ingredient in the decision. At 67 and retired for a half a dozen years already, it was getting to be time anyway.

Gamari turned over three yellow pages of things to do this summer to Cooke. He will get the twinge soon when school fall practices begin, but he will smile, too, knowing it isn’t his worry any more.

He will golf. He will watch some Gilbert events. He will relax. He will wait for his wife Sandy to retire from the business department at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital at the end of the year.  

He will do a lot of things and he should take pride in a job well done. On his side he will be busy as he wants to be. On this side he will be missed and that doesn’t do him justice.

He has been one of the best. Thanks Mike and enjoy the retirement.

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