Raczkowski enjoying second hoop go-around
You knew it had to be him. After all, how many Keith Raczkowskis are there. Still, just to confirm that the name that I had seen listed as the South Windsor girls basketball coach was indeed the one and same Keith Raczkowski that had guided the Naugatuck High girls for so long and so well I called South Windsor Athletic Director Dan Sytulek.
“Yep, that’s the one and we’re glad to have him,” said Sytulek.
Call it `Razz II’ or `Razz the Sequel’ and if it’s as good as the first time around, well South Windsor is in for a lot of happy basketball nights. By the way for many it’s always been just `Razz’. Raczkowski has too many syllables and you know how we love nicknames.
For those who don’t remember Razz it just means you are very young and we are getting older. But know this, it was a pretty good run.
In a 22-year span from 1985 through 2007 Razz won 349 games (almost 16 a year), grabbed seven Naugatuck Valley League titles and was in three state semifinals. And then of course there was the streak – 105 NVL wins in a row that included six straight titles from 1989-1995.
That’s a resume to hang your whistle on so how do we end up in South Windsor 12 years later at the young age of 61 (and there is a youthful exuberance to Razz) doing it one more time.
The relocation part is easy. Razz retired from the Naugatuck school system in 2014 after 31 years and moved to Manchester to be closer to his children, Kyle and Jamie, who live in South Windsor.
“I’m having tons of fun, the grandkids are young and my wife and I are doing a lot babysitting,” says the proud grandpa. And the return to the coaching ranks? Well, man does not live by babysitting alone.
“I am retired and I was bored,” said Razz. “I’ve officiated high school basketball and umped baseball too. I’ve done freshman volleyball, worked at Manchester Community College and done some subbing at the high school. All these places need me more than I need them.”
One of those places ended up being at the head of the Bobcats’ girls basketball bench. Razz actually came back during the 2018-19 season when the position opened up just a couple of weeks into the schedule. He went on to coach 14 games.
“Somebody from the school who I coached baseball with said they needed somebody and talked to the Athletic Director,” said Razz. “Initially I was just there to finish the season, but I loved it. The kids up here are great and I had fun. “
Razz had so much fun he applied for the job on a permanent basis which was a no-brainer for South Windsor.
Other than a lament about the disappearance of summer leagues and small camps where teams used to play together, Razz hasn’t seen much change in his dozen years away from the game.
“It’s fun to be back in the game with a new group or people and teams,” he says. “I have a good core group of kids that are enthusiastic. It’s something exciting to do in retirement.”
A team Razz calls, “young and small with injuries,” with a 3-9 has struggled with a 5-12 ecord. Still Razz is glad to be back. Basketball with Raczkowski listed as coach. You kind of knew it had to be the same guy.