A Power Couple at THS. Eric and Christine Gamari.
Separately, they played the heck out of the game, any game. Basketball was the centerpiece of storied careers but the ball or field didn’t matter. Give them a game, throw out the challenge and the response produced legendary resumes and community respect and adulation.
Eric Gamari, the 5-foot-7 (maybe), 135 pound undersized Gilbert guy with the oversized basketball game who did nothing but win with a ferocious addiction to competition and Christine Strawson, the multi-talented competitor who was overwhelming in basketball, volleyball and track at Torrington High and Holy Cross College compiling a list of accomplishments that will challenge any trophy case and forever keep her name fresh.
The playing days are over, now the twosome is playing the heck out of life. Are you surprised? Considering what they did on their own, marrying into one entity seems almost unfair to anything life cooks up to test their mettle.
These are good days for the Gamari’s, a sporting power couple if there ever was one. Go to a Torrington High boys basketball game and Eric, stylishly attired in suit and irritatingly as sleek in build as during his high school days, is calmly guiding the Raiders, a decade of coaching now under his belt.
Christine isn’t far away. She’ll hit you up for the 50-50 raffle and once the game begins you can find her opposite the Torrington bench, one eye on the game, all eyes on precocious offspring Maya, 6, and Owen, 4.
There are many connections between Eric and Christine, starting with family. There are the kids and the parents. Eric’s dad, Mike, former Gilbert School coach and Athletic Director, keeps the scorebook on the road and is a sounding board for ideas. Christine’s mom Pat is always working at the games.
It hardly ends there. Both teach at Torrington High. Eric is the history guy while Christine is the science maven. But sports, that’s where it all started, after family that is the never-ending bond.
“Our relationship started with basketball at the YMCA,” said Christine. “We were playing one-on-one. It was where we started to get to know one another. ‘
Erick also claims he used some court savvy for the bigger game. “I tell her I let her win.”
Even in the first hours and days of marriage 10 years ago sports weren’t that far away.
“We spent our honeymoon in Washington D.C. and Colonial Williamsburg and we ended up going to see the Mets and Nationals in D.C.,” said Eric. “I told her it was cheaper than going to City Field (Mets home field).”
Christine, 33, just recently finished up her first coaching stint, relinquishing her job as volleyball coach after the 217-18 school year to spend more time with her children. During her seven-year stint she posted a 123-39 record with an NVL title and Class M state title appearance.
Eric, 41, recently completed a terrific campaign guiding the Raiders to a 19-7 record and a spot in the Division III semifinals. With a superb playing career and a four-year tutelage under former Litchfield High and Western Connecticut State University coach Jason Harlow, He obviously brought and brings much to the basketball table.
But Christine is always there.
“She’s really good at picking up team chemistry and leaves the game stuff to me,” said Eric. “She watches the bench and offers comments on the dynamics of the team. “
“It’s awesome watching him, he is very passionate about it,” says Christine. “I feel like I’m there with him every point and every possession. I notice things and we share some. Not as much as we used to. Before we had kids early in his coaching career, basketball was all we talked about.”
Christine has taken great pride in watching her husband grow as a coach. How he doesn’t dwell on things and his impeccable preparation for games through film, practice and dealing with other coaches.
“I don’t think there is anything that happens on the court that he is not prepared for,” she said. “The amount of time he spends in preparation is unbelievable.”
One of Christine’s favorite part of Eric the coach is his perspective of family and job that changed with the birth of the kids.
“Sunday after games he wants the kids to come to the gym early and run around,” said Christine. “It’s family time but he will still practice.”
There is enough credibility in both backgrounds that both are willing to coach together. They have co-coached the PAL basketball K-3 program.
“He said he was my assistant and he relished that role,” said Christine. “I appreciated that. When the game was played, he would do what I asked him to.”
You would think the ferocious competitive bent of both would lead to friction on occasion. But it is an ingredient in common and a gorilla glue to the relationship.
“We are able to listen with patience to one another,” said Eric. “We understand where each is coming from. Christine has had a ton of success and we are comfortable bouncing ides off one another.”
“We understand each other’s lifestyle when it comes to sports," said Christine. “We are two of the most competitive people ever and we appreciate each other’s viewpoint. We are able to balance each other.”
The only really minor sports spat between the two may be on the court. Who wins one-on-one?
“I like to say to him that I can post him up,” said Christine who has the height advantage.
“I think she’d probably defer to me,” Eric countered. “I’m getting older now and just shoot jumpers.”
An intriguing matchup to say the least. A little fire and a lot of fun.
It isn’t all sports and there is a time to give it a rest. The kids are paramount and there are summers in Narragansett at the beach. At night in the off-season as Eric says, “we veg out.”
But sports will always be a major tie that binds. Eric will continue to do his coaching thing with the Raiders and Christine will never be far away. Will the day come when she returns to some sideline? Maybe.
“I don’t know,” says Eric. “She is very good dealing with people and kids. “Coaching is just one aspect of that. She may be an administrator down the line. She is a leader.”
One thing that is known is that Eric and Christine Gamari are attacking life with the same fire and zest they played the game with. Most importantly with the same success. They do a lot and they do it well.
Most importantly they do it together. With love and style.