A look back at our favorite stories of 2015. January: Ben Bonvicini joins the Torrington '29 Club.
Winning the prestigious ’29 Club Award for a Torrington High School football player is akin to a college player taking home the Heisman Trophy.
It’s about as good as it gets when it comes to being recognized for your ability on and off the field.
This year, the club named one of Torrington High’s finest when it selected Ben Bonvicini as its 2014 recipient of the award, which is given annually in honor of the undefeated Raiders team.
The player must exhibit extraordinary athletic performance and leadership, academic excellence and be a positive role model for others to follow. The award has been given out since 1939.
Bonvinci will receive the honor at a banquet January 5, 2015 at P. Sam's Cafe in Torrington.
The 6-3, 280-pound Bonvinci was a standout on both sides of the ball this past season for the Raiders with his size, speed and athleticism, protecting the quarterback and opening holes for the Raiders’ running backs and causing havoc for opposing offenses when on defense. He was a captain for the team this year.
“I originally could not believe I was chosen to be the recipient of the ‘29 Club Award,” said Bonvinci. “When I received the call to tell me I was speechless. Personally, the award means a lot because the ‘29 Club Award is an honor that every senior wants to win and it’s an unbelievable feeling to be chosen. I am extremely thankful.”
His coach, Gaitan Rodriquez, is obviously a big fan of his player and was thrilled that he captured the award.
“I’m very proud and happy to hear that Ben was this year’s recipient. Ben comes from a great family. His work ethic, character, commitment, and love for the game was a big factor in naming him captain for us this year. He is a tremendous person and has all the qualities that a coach looks for in a player.”
He continued, “Ben is deserving of this award because he is a great example of what it is to be a student athlete. He works just as hard in the classroom as he does on the football field. That is what this award stands for, a player that works and performs well on and off the field at a high level. Ben has been able to demonstrate that through his play and grades.”
Indeed, not only is Bonvicini a top athlete he excels in the classroom as well. Modestly saying he is a “decent student,” Bonvinci maintains a 94.484 GPA in honors and AP classes. He would like to become an engineer.
Rodriquez, who coached Bonvinci for two seasons, says he was always impressed with his maturity and how he carried himself.
“He improved this year with his knowledge of the schemes. Through his hard work and dedication to the off-season program he became stronger, bigger, and more confident. He brought all of that into this year and was able to have a nice season for himself.”
He added, “Ben was the anchor of the offensive line and was a solid player on defense. As a captain, he led by example by the way he carried himself on the field and off, a true example of the values that are important in our program.”
Rodriquez said Bonvicini’s strongest attributes as a football player are his size and knowledge of the offensive and defensive schemes. “As a person, it’s his maturity and character. He is just a tremendous young man who will be missed.”
Bonvinci hopes to continue playing football in college, although he hasn’t yet decided on a school.
“Ben has all the attributes to be a successful college student-athlete,” said Rodriquez. “He has demonstrated already that he has the capability of balancing both. I cannot see that changing, only improving as he matures and grows as a person, student, and athlete.”
Bonvinci said the favorite part of playing football for him is “the competitiveness involved in every play and the teamwork required to win. My favorite moment, and probably the most memorable of high school, was our game against Woodland (a 28-27 win in September). I believe that game showed the true heart our team had. We fought for four quarters and overtime to get the tough victory. I will remember that game for my whole life.”
Bonvinci gave credit to his father, Fred, for his success.
“My father has made me the person I am today more than anyone, and my coaches have made me the player I am today because I never played football before high school.”
Now that he has high school football under his belt, as well as the coveted ’29 Club Award, there’s no telling what heights Bonvicini will take his athletic and academic careers.