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Class S title: A special day for the McMahons

POSTED March 20, 2014
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson



            THOMASTON – Forgive Bob McMahon if he wishes Kelly McMahon luck Saturday but not too much luck. Forgive Kelly McMahon if she does everything she can to make Bob McMahon’s day a long one.

            Thomaston and St. Paul are drawn together by a number of circumstances not the least of which is that they are two darn good basketball teams who hope to put a state championship banner on the wall when they meet at 3 p.m. at Mohegan Sun for the Class S state title.

            You want connections, how about this one. St. Paul Principal Cary DuPont grew up in Thomaston and used to coach the Golden Bears’ baseball team. That’s just for starters.

            The McMahons, they are the real interesting sidelight here. Bob is the coach of the Golden Bears and Kelly is his niece and starting guard for the Falcons.  It doesn’t get any dicier than that, does it.

            Kelly’s Dad, Denny, a superb athlete in his younger days, grew up in Thomaston and shared a lot of his game with John Hurlbert who also happens to be the father of Thomaston’s best player Abby Hurlbert and the Bears’ starting guard Gabrielle Hurlbert.

            So much to draw these teams together.  A shared history sitting on opposite sides of the gym with hopes of different ending to the dream.

            “I am obviously rooting for St. Paul, my daughter plays there, but l almost wished they didn’t have to play one another,” said Denny McMahon. “I have a lot friends with a lot family from Thomaston.”

              Both coach and player see it all as special but a side show to the big show.

            “It will be pretty special playing against him,” said Kelly a junior. “But in the end it comes down to basketball and playing for 32 minutes. At the (Bolton) game, he came up and gave me hug but only one can win here.”

            “Saturday is about two families, Thomaston and St. Paul,” said Bob McMahon. “My family will always have this to look back on and I wish my mom was here to see it, but the game is Thomaston against St. Paul.  I want Kelly to do well but I want to do the best job for Thomaston.

 I owe more to my team than to be worried about somebody on the other team. When the game starts, (Kelly) is No. 11. Just one of the players on the other team. But, she’s my favorite player that doesn’t wear brown and gold. ”

Bob and Kelly are close. She played for Thomaston’s summer league team two years ago and on more than one occasion he has picked her up at her house in Torrington and brought her to practice at St. Paul. (Another connection, Bob lives in Bristol.)

Over the years Kelly has gotten to know many of the Thomaston players. The Golden Bears All-Stater Abby Hurlbert was the Waterbury Republican’s Player of the week a while ago. One of the questions they ask is, `What opposing player would you most want as a teammate? Hurlbert’s response? You guessed it, Kelly McMahon.

In the middle of all of this is the patriarch – Gene McMahon, known to almost all as `Sleeper.’  Usually seen with either a St. Paul hat or Thomaston hat on, the 85-year old former First Selectman has split his game-time this year between both teams, also drawing an occasional crack for being at one place instead of the other.

This is rock and hard place territory for the father and grandfather. Where will he sit? Who will he root for?

“He won’t be in either student section, I’ll tell you that,” said Bob McMahon. “He looks for a good place to watch the game. I’m daring him to pain his chest half brown and half blue.”

“It’s the finals, half blue and half brown,” agrees Kelly.

This is also no lose territory for dad and grandfather.

“He is in a tough position either way but he can’t lose,” said Denny McMahon. “Either his granddaughter or son is going to walk away with a state championship and he will feel bad for the one that loses.”

Saturday is a special day for St. Paul and Thomaston regardless of the outcome. It will be an extra special day for one team because of the outcome. But it is an awfully proud day for the McMahon family.

             The kid and the coach doing battle, a proud family watches. Somebody gets a title, everybody gets a hug and a lifetime memory. As it should be.

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