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A look back at the top stories of 2014. New Torrington sports complex opens without a hitch.

POSTED December 24, 2014
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: For Mario Longobucco and the rest of the dedicated Turf Committee members who spent most of the past week at the Track and Turf project at Torrington High School, Wednesday will bring a different kind of day.

“I can actually get some work done,” Longobucco said. “No walk through, no morning meeting.”

On Tuesday at 6 p.m., the Torrington girls’ soccer team played the first game on the brand new turf field and while they may have dropped a hard fought 4-2 decision to a talented Watertown group, nobody who attended the event went home feeling like losers.

It had been a whirlwind 36-hour start to the week as a project that was years in the making wrapped up with relative ease.

This is what happens when you have guys like Longobucco and Ed Arum, the co-chairmen of the Turf Committee, in charge.

A small list of “To Do’s” was all that was left on Monday morning when the Torrington building inspector did his initial walk through and each was knocked off well before the 1 p.m. return visit on Tuesday.

The first group of players to take the field was a very special one. It was Gerry Carbone’s Unified Sports soccer team who made their way onto the turf and got some happy practice time in before a game later this week.

On Monday night, a group of volunteers brought in by Longobucco started working on removing the plastic covering off first the home and later the visitor’s bleachers, in order to make sure they were clean before the first guests settled in.

Large amounts of water had gathered on the plastic sheets that covered the seats while the track was being painted and had to be removed carefully so as not to spill over onto the still drying track service.

Like a well-oiled machine, the volunteers, made up of parents, players from the soccer and football team and even one LCS reporter, used a good old fashioned bucket brigade to safely get the water up and over the back side of the bleachers.

Work wrapped at about 9 p.m. on Monday but Longobucco was back on site early on Tuesday to oversee the list of things that needed to be completed before an expected 1 p.m. final inspection.

Early optimism concerning the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy were well founded as it was known well before the 1 p.m. deadline that the project was going to get the okay.

To say that the first day went well would be an understatement. It was hard to find anything that went wrong. The sound system and scoreboard functioned perfectly after a morning training session with the legendary RJ Poniatoski.

The benches, tarps to cover the track and the like all went out without a hitch.

Garbage cans, donated by LCS supporters Albreada Refuse, made their way around the complex while workers continued to clean up certain areas that needed completing.

Volunteers, who had spent several hours planting on Sunday, were back for more on Tuesday, giving the complex a little more TLC before the unveiling.

Heck, the Raiders football team even took a moment out before practice to simply lay down on the field they could truly call their “Field of Dreams.”

This new complex comes with something not seen at THS for a good long time: visiting bleachers.

Not that anyone used them.

The Indians travel well and brought a few dozen fans who simply took the path they were used to and planted themselves on the same bleachers they had for years.

It will take some time before folks get used to that part of the field.

You can now enter the complex and go in separate directions. Left takes you right up to the new Glen and Kathy Aeischliman scoreboard with the newly moved Robert H. Frost Complex monument not right behind it or in front of you as you make your way up the walk.

Make a right at the scoreboard and you go towards the home bleachers, a left and you will be on the visiting side looking back at a suddenly very close Route 8.

The State DOT has been doing some serious tree work in the area and the tree line that used to provide some sound cover from the highway in now all but gone.

As for the game, the Raiders struck first when senior Paige Middleton made a nice run down the right side and crossed the ball to teammate Alexis Tyrrell who can lay claim to scoring the first goal on the new turf field.

The Indians tied things 14-mimutes later and went ahead just before the half by 2-1 score.

Torrington would fight back and tie things in the second half on an own goal by Watertown but two more second half goals by a talented Indians team put this one out of reach.

Not to worry though, good things are a coming, just ask the guy who had the vision seven years ago and saw it through right until the very end.

“It was a great night,” Longobucco said. “There are going to be a lot of great nights to come on this field.”

Never doubt Longobucco. He simply gets things done.      

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