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Moving the LCS Banquet. A little luck and some great dedication by many.

POSTED June 17, 2017
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Switching an end of the year banquet that was scheduled to go off in just two days seemed like an impossible and unlikely task when I first thought of it.

Having all the pieces fall into place seven days after the original date, given the time of the year and how busy families, coaches and players get, left me thinking this would be the longest of long shots.

Let’s go back to last week when the Torrington softball team was scheduled to play Pomperaug in the Class L semi-finals on Tuesday, June 6 at West Haven High School.

It marked the second consecutive year that the Raiders had made it to the semi-finals and after falling a year earlier to Fitch, Torrington was hoping to punch their ticket to the big dance.

As she had most of this spring season though, Mother Nature had other plans as it rained Monday, moving games scheduled to be played that night to Wednesday night.

If the same fate awaited the Tuesday night schedule, the only option would be for the teams to bounce their games to Thursday, the scheduled night of the Third Annual Litchfield County Sports Banquet, celebrating over 40 student athletes, including six who were members of the softball team.

Two players from each of the Raiders 21 sports teams are nominated by their coaches each year and two were chosen from the softball team but four others on the team were nominated in four different sports as well.

Losing six players, their coaches, parents and administration officials would have cut a significant hole in the game plan of celebrating this year’s accomplishments at the high school.

Trouble was, it was Tuesday at about 10 a.m. and the banquet was scheduled for Thursday at 5:30, not a lot of time to make the necessary adjustments that needed everything to fall in place just right.

What were the odds? I didn’t think very good but I started at the top, hoping for the best.

Second challenge, I wasn’t home. I was working a job with my wife out in Kent, you know, the place that has yet to receive or send an email or phone call.

Might as well be underground, you might get better connections but I started anyway.

My first call, one that took four tries, was to Chatterley’s the location of the event.

If it was booked the following Thursday, the game was over and it would have been a real light night.

One thing lost in the original plan was that I needed to be in West Haven on Thursday night as well, covering the game. It’s kind of my job. Tough to miss a semi-final game in any sport that includes your home town team.

After finally reaching Chatterley’s (I was almost going to break out the smoke signals), they told me that Thursday, June 15 was open.

Okay, most important step completed, let’s keep going.

Next, Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone. Certainly, she was going to be busy. I book my friend the Mayor nearly a year in advance just so I can have her there to present the student/athletes with a certificate from the City of Torrington.

Mayor Carbone has been a staunch supporter of everything we try and do in supporting Torrington area sports and I truly appreciate her devotion to helping celebrate our young people.

After taking to Maurette, her scheduling guru, I find that she may be busy but might be able to move her schedule around to attend.

Okay, feeling a little more optimistic at this point, let’s go next to Connecticut State Representative Michelle Cook, who has also been a dedicated supporter of both LCS and Torrington sports.

Cook brings a certificate from the State of Connecticut acknowledging the accomplishment that each of the winner has achieved.

Turns out, she is also available. Okay, this is big ship is starting to turn.

No icebergs yet.

I get a call back from Maurette and the Mayor can make it. Nice, moving on.

Let’s try my good friend John Holt, formally of WFSB in Hartford, one of the best in the business at what he does in highlighting the positives in sports around the state.

WFSB had let my friend go during the winter, an unfortunate development for the kids who had gotten used to seeing him on the sidelines for many a year, telling great stories.

When Holt agreed to be one of the guest speakers, earlier this year, a big part of me didn’t want him to be able to make it because he was picked up by another television station, but it had not happened yet.

When the text message came back that he would be available, the train (we were now back on land) that was looking to move the banquet was picking up steam, most of the players were on board and the engine was starting to roar.

Our second speaker scheduled was former Raider great, Kay Zagrodnik who is a shining example of what kind of person we hope our graduates will become.

A young lady who is there when you call, as she was for the Rod Dixon’s Kidsmarathon two weeks earlier as one of our Mentors who made sure the event ran as smoothly as it did.

Zagrodnik was also able to make the next Thursday happen and at this point, a feeling of thankfulness was starting to sweep over me. So many people were willing to move their schedules around in order to be part of this event. It made my heart feel great.

The last, and most important piece of the puzzle was my friend Joe Friscia, a brave gentleman battling Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer who we were going to honor that night with a “Courage Award” for his relentless attack on his ailment.

Pancreatic Cancer picked the wrong guy to try and kick around, Joe is looking to be one of the seven percent who survive this cancer and he battles on with the heart of a champion.

Friscia was also willing to change the date with us.

Emails to the coaches at THS followed and each one of the dedicated individuals who help put out fine young men and woman into the world each year, helped communicate to their players that the date had changed.

The responses were fast, these folks are simple the best and I truly appreciate them.

I threw out a couple of texts to key parents who helped spread the word amongst the players who were nominated and after about three hours of working the issue, we had a solution and a successfully moved banquet.

What started as a passing thought had become a reality and June 8 became June 15.

Thanks to all who helped, except for Mother Nature, who had a lousy year.  






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