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Another great group of student/athletes are honored by the Torrington Varsity Alumni Club.

POSTED August 01, 2017
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: It never ceases to amaze me how great so many of our student/athletes at Torrington High School have been during their high school days and I’d bet a bunch on how tremendous they will be in the future.

Success breeds success they say, and on Tuesday night at Chatterley’s Banquet Facility, the Torrington Varsity Alumni Club honored seven more terrific future leaders of our world.

Erica Morrison, Brie Pergola, Ali Bottari, Alexis Tyrrell, Amanda Thiel, Brandon Stater and Gina Lucia where this year’s recipients and one would be hard pressed to find a better group of young people.

Thiel was not able to attend but for good reason; she has already started taking classes to get a jump on her future. No surprise there.

The VAC, formed 80 glorious years ago, has been giving deserving student/athletes scholarships that started when our good friend Tony Turina received a $300-dollar check that covered a third of his college education at the time.

They have given over $300,000 dollars-worth of assistance over those decades.  

Tuesday night before family, friends, teachers and coaches, the seven new members took their turn at the tradition that is this night and as I sat at the table with the six stars on hand, I knew each of them were going to do great things.

Look at these names.

Start with Morrison, who will be attending Syracuse University in the fall and was a member of the soccer and indoor track teams. Her packed schedule that included being the manager of the girl’s basketball team and more spoke volumes to her dedication and ability to get things done, something that will be invaluable to her in the near future.

There’s Pergola, the quietest superstar Torrington girl’s basketball has ever experienced who will be heading to the University of New Haven and don’t be surprised to see her surpass all expectations, even her own.

An athlete who possess the ability to see the entire court in a blink of an eye, Pergola’s knack for finding people open anywhere on the court is something that couldn’t be taught, she just had it.

You might catch Botari in the film credits of a movie theatre near you if she fulfills her dream while attending Quinnipiac University. The soccer and track and field letter earner has high hopes and who will dare to doubt her?

Tyrrell, cast on her right wrist and all, was a three-sport standout on the pitch, the hardwood and the baseball diamond and is heading to Eastern Connecticut State University where she will no doubt have an immediate impact in whatever she does.

Don’t expect that pesky wrist surgery to slow that kid down.

Thiel was another multi-sport star, lettering in softball, swimming and indoor track. Thiel was a mainstay in the leadership department no matter which sport she starred in.

Stater, the outnumbered guy at a table filled with strong willed and determined young women, is a one of a kind young man.

Count him in the three-sport category with soccer, tennis and track and field part of his impressive resume.

He’s off to Western New England University but will always consider Torrington and THS home, as will all the honorees.

Lucia lettered in softball and soccer during her time at THS and is off to Roger Williams University in a matter of weeks, as all these standouts will be.

She said she “got a good vibe” during her visit to the University and the University will be better off with her on the campus.  

It’s a tradition at Varsity Alumni Club dinners for the members to ask questions of the winners on hand, putting them on the spot where they need to come up with different answers than their classmates on a wide variety of topics.

Over the years, the questions, especially when they were asked by the guys who were so instrumental in the forming of the club, Andy Pace and Frankie Russo were tough, tough questions.

Either might challenge the student/athletes answer, looking for an argument that sometimes surprised even them when the honoree stuck firm to their answer.

Paul O’Heron, as dedicated member of the VAC as you will find, served as the Master of Ceremonies and got help from fellow member Paul Denza in asking the questions of the table.

A new question emerged this year that I think is going to stick around.

Denza asked if the winners planned on returning to Torrington after they finished college and why they thought they might or might not.

Answers varied but there was a common theme that revolved around two things.

Jobs and family.

With Torrington not being part of the film industry, Botari wasn’t sure she would be back based on her career choice.

Tyrrell has hopes of being a teacher in the physical education field and could easily see herself back in Torrington, as could Pergola and Morrison and Lucia for different reasons but the family theme.

Each thought more job opportunities could help entice more people to come back.

This is the place they grew up and became outstanding young men and women so why not end up back in the town that gave them so much?

Stater summed it up best.

“A community is what you make of it,” Stater said. “I have loved my time at Torrington High School and will always consider myself part of it.”

It’s funny you know. If we all just focused a little more on the positive individuals in our community, like these young future stars, the world would be a better place.













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