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Celebrating Fathers. Caitlin Turina Lee on Tony Turina.

POSTED June 09, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

               To most people my father is Coach T.  He served as Torrington High School's basketball coach for 17 years.  During his tenure, his teams won one state championship, appeared in the state semifinals six times, state finals three times, and was runner up five times for the NVL League Championship.

                My father taught his players many life lessons; he taught them how to be the best on and off the court.  I have seen many basketball games at Torrington High School and have attended many athletic events.  To this day, I have never heard anyone ever say a single bad thing about my father as a coach.  That is until now. I am going to tell you the unheard of about my dad as a coach.  My father was half the coach he was father!

                When it comes to fathers, my sister and I hit the jackpot.  He is a father that at times worked several jobs all at once. He ran charities and coached basketball, however, he never missed an event that my sister and I participated in.  He was our biggest fan and biggest supporter.  I believe he may have been cloned and multiple “Tony T’s” exist. 

                  When I was younger I was very into swimming. My father never missed a meet.  Throughout my high school career my father was the announcer at the meets, I always thought it was because he liked to talk into a microphone because anyone that knows my father, knows when you give him a microphone you cannot get it away.  What I did not know was that my father was the announcer so that he had a front row seat to my races.  At the end of my meets on the way home he would always talk to me about my swims.

                  Sure, I would think here is this basketball coach pretending to know something about swimming. In reality he knew swimming was important to me, so it was important to him to discuss my meet and give me pointers.  Any swim coach out there would probably laugh at his advice.  His advice was his way of showing he wanted to be a part of something that was so important to me.   He is the kind of dad that would have pasta cooking and ready for me when I got home from school so that I could carb up for my meet and the kind of dad that knew I was a little superstitious, and would have “lucky” orange slices cut and packed for me.

                I learned how much of a fan my father truly was of mine when I went to college.  As a parent, high school meets are a breeze. The furthest meet away is about 45 minutes and they usually last about an hour.  In college a swim meet is an all weekend event.  My father would drive all over the place to see me swim, from CT, to NJ, to PA, to NY, etc.  He would sit in stands that felt like a 100 degrees for swim meets that would last 5-6 hours in the morning and another 3-4 hours at night to watch me compete in a one minute race. 

                 I think that is why he was so in shape, losing all that water weight sitting in a hot natatorium for hours.  Throughout college he would still give his race critique and advice.  By then I was smart enough to know that he just wanted to share my passion, mostly because his advice was the complete opposite of what my coach told me to do.  During that time I learned “lucky” orange slices were not what helped me swim, it was looking into the stands and seeing my dad and mom.  However, my dad still managed to sneak me the orange slices.

                I credit a lot of the success I have had in my life to my parents.  My father is the type of person who can help you excel at anything without pushing you too hard.  I think that is why he had such success as a coach.  He is the type of person that cheers for you in the stands, but does not yell at you when you come in second.  He helps you to keep it fun but makes sure you keep your competitive edge.

                  In high school, I had a major shoulder injury that required surgery; my dreams of swimming in college were shattered.  My father never put pressure on me, he supported me and motivated me.  He was able to bring out the best in me, because I knew that no matter what the result, he would still be proud of me.  Because of the support I had, I was able to fulfill my dreams and swim in college. 

                Now that I am a parent, I realize just how much my parents have done for me.  The little things you take for granted you now learn to appreciate.  My dad is the kind of dad that will send you cards when he knows you are homesick at school.  He is the kind of dad that you can call when you are having the worst day and knows how to make it brighter.  He is the kind of dad you can call for advice and he is always right.  He is the kind of dad that lets you be the best that you can be without pressuring you.  He is the kind of dad that is proud of you no matter what.  He is the kind of dad that is your best friend, without losing the role of your father.  I hope that when my son grows up, he looks up to me that way.

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