Celebrating Fathers. Eric Gamari on Mike Gamari.
About two weeks ago, after the very hot and humid Raider Run, Tim Gaffney approached me and said that Litchfield County Sports was planning to run articles leading up to Father's Day about people telling their experience of what their father means to them.
I don't know if I have ever really formally thought about this subject, but I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the man that is both a personal and professional role model for me.
My father is Michael Vincent Gamari.
Many sports people may know him from his days as the Athletic Director of The Gilbert School, a position in which he served for 26 years. He dedicated many parts of his life to Gilbert, as he also taught Social Studies there and was a basketball and golf coach.
I don't remember much from his coaching days.
For me, his coaching careers are pieced together by stories I hear from him, my mom and his former players.
So what was it like growing up with a dad that was busy most of the time?
Since Dad was into athletics it was a great way for us to bond.
As a child, I remember playing catch in the backyard and shooting on an 8 foot hoop with a girl's ball. I would always ask him why we couldn't shoot on a regulation hoop or practice with a boy's ball, like many of my friends were already doing.
He always answered me calmly, no matter how frustrated I was, saying that I wasn't yet strong enough to reach the hoop with the correct form.
My dad was a fundamentally sound basketball player in the 1950s and 1960s, and even played at Springfield College. Although I am extremely grateful that he taught me proper shooting form and the intricacies of the game I love, I will always treasure those practice sessions with Dad because it gave us an opportunity to talk and connect on other subjects as well.
As I got older and moved onto high school, my dad and my mom would be at most of my cross country, basketball and track meets, despite their busy schedules. Both of my parents were very supportive of my athletic career.
Whether the game went well or not, my dad was always willing to listen to my analysis, and gently provide his own insights.
His message was always the same: "control the things you can control and focus on the details."
As fast as high school came and went, college went even quicker. I was lucky to play college basketball at Western Connecticut.
The college game was a much faster-paced game and it was difficult for me to adjust to at first.
No matter how I played, or how much or how little I played, I could always count on my parents to attend just about every game, home or away. After each game we always found a nearby diner where we would breakdown the game.
It wasn't always about basketball though. My dad made it clear that he wanted to know about the rest of my college life as well. To this day I can still smell those diners and remember the countless conversations we had.
More recently, as a basketball coach, I still have my dad attending my basketball games. Both of my parents come to as many games as possible. My dad sits quietly in the stands, doesn't say much to too many people, and quietly absorbs the events of the game.
He knows he will be getting a late night phone call, so he critically examines each and every play. Those phone calls are more special to me than he probably will ever know. I appreciate that he is such a good listener. We both get excited about the things that go well, and sometimes frustrated by the things that do not. My dad has the amazing ability to look objectively at all situations from multiple perspectives. He makes me a better coach and a better man.
My dad is sweet, caring, never blames others, and is always a gentleman and a teacher.
With a new baby daughter of my own, I hope I can be half as good a father to Maya as he was to me. I know she will enjoy spending time with him and hearing his stories, just as I have had the pleasure to do so.
So, thanks for everything and Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you.