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Coach Turina makes his way back to the hardwood with The Forman School.

POSTED November 15, 2017
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

LITCHFIELD: He's back!

Former Torrington boys' basketball head coach Tony Turina has found his way back to the hardwood but in a different role with a familiar former player.

Turina is now assisting former Torrington High School standout, John Strawson at The Forman School in Litchfield.

There have been many job offers for the legendary Raider head coach over the years and he has been a presence in numerous gyms over the years, helping out in Torrington, Thomaston, Shepaug and about anywhere else that called and asked.

The offense that he used during his days in the Connie Donahue Gymnasium can be seen scattered around the Naugatuck Valley and Berkshire Leagues.

The Forman job though, came at just the right time.

"It was funny," Turina said. "I got a text from John (Strawson) and it asked if I was interested. I showed it to my wife (Joann) and she said, "Why not?."

For Strawson, who has built a tremendous reputation in his seven years at The Forman School, it was an opportunity to work with a guy he considers part of his own family and who was a role model and mentor to him during his Raider years.

"This means a lot," Strawson said. "Coach Turina has taught me a lot about basketball and even more about life."

The Turina's and Pat Strawson, John's mom, still walk together on a nightly basis on the East Side of town and their relationships over the years have remained rock solid, making this decision a no-brainer for Turina.

"He's a terrific coach," Turina said. "I'm already really impressed with his passion and commitment to the kids and the program. It is the perfect situation for me."

As I watched the two run the young Lions through day two of tryouts, so many things stuck out in a good way.

Strawson, a big, potentially intimidating force, ran his team through drills hard, but with an emphasis on the positive.

Before each drill, a player had to step up and make a pair of free throws. Make the pair, move on. Miss one or both and the entire team was running but with a head coach reminding you that it was alright to make a mistake.

No drilling down on the negative, Strawson would even remind his squad that the player certainly didn't miss on purpose. He never missed a chance to praise either. 

Turina jumped right in and put his positive stamp on the proceedings by reminding the team to celebrate another's success whenever possible.

After running the court for five minutes, the former Raider guard got the entire team together under the basket to put their hands together for a team cheer.

Heck, coach Turina even took part in two on two drills as he prepared for the upcoming Alumni Day basketball game at Torrington High School the day after Thanksgiving.

His guidance will most certainly help a Lions team that seemed to react to his teaching immediately. 

The Lions have had a great seven-year run under Strawson who holds an 84-37 mark over that time frame and was named the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council 'Coach of the Year' three years straight between 2013-2015.

In 2013, The Forman School captured the Hudson Valley League Championship.

Strawson was a Raider force all four years of his high school career, captain of the basketball team in his senior year.

Saw some skill out on the hardwood at The Forman School from the players and most certainly from the coaching staff that reunites a pair of Torrington High Schools finest.

Should be fun to watch this season.

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