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Resurrecting the Hoopy Awards

POSTED April 01, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                                 The 2012 Hoopy Awards

            It’s a four-month odyssey of road trips, different gyms, great performances, not so great performances, dreams and tears, highs and lows. You see a lot in those four months and when it is all over and done with as it now, I like to sit back and reflect a bit.

            I thought this year would be a good time to resurrect `The Hoopy Awards’, a staple in the 1990s during my days with the Register Citizen but mostly retired the last decade. It is my own way of honoring the good, the bad, the different. Sort of like the ESPYs sans trophies or lucrative endorsement deals.

            Although who knows, with one of these prestigious honors on you resume you may be asked to do a commercial for The Village Restaurant in Litchfield, The Warner Theatre or Fairview Farms Golf Course. Maybe even get an invite to be on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

            Then again, maybe not. But who knows, the value of a Hoopy is inestimable. So with tongue firmly implanted in cheek for at least most of these (I have to say that because one coach took great issue with one of the awards years ago and nearly started crying), here are my Hoopy Awards for the 2011-12 season.

            BEST COACHING ATTIRE – Not contest here with all due respect to the always classy threads worn by Holy Cross boys coach Ed Generali. The hands down winner is Kaynor Tech’s Hank Spellman who wore a fabulous gray suit with pink pinstripes and wide lapels for Kaynor’s  Class L quarterfinal game against Notre Dame of Fairfield.  Hank looked like the Mayor and the Godfather all in one. Nobody even close in this category.

            HIGHEST SHOT -  Thomaston sophomore Abby Hurlbert launched a projectile that seemed to be headed towards lunar orbit against Portland in the Class S quarterfinals. I looked up from notebook and thought the ball was going to hit a light and still swear it brought dust down from the ceiling girder. Amazingly, the shot went in. Long-time Thomaston fan, Gene McMahon, now 82, said it was the highest arcing shot he has ever seen.

            BEST CHANT BY A STUDENT ROOTING SECTION – The Immaculate students were energetic, classy and quite creative. Against Gilbert in the third quarter with their team (eventual Class S champions), ahead by about 35 points, the sounds of Silent Night emanated from the stands. Not the much overused `You got swatted’ or `You can’t do that’ but Silent Night. Against Northwestern they came up with, “Drive home safely.’ It was good.

            I had to listen to the words to figure it all out. When they hit `Sleep in heavenly peace.’, I got the message as did Gilbert. Pretty good I thought.

            All WE NEED IS A VOLKSWAGEN AWARD - The Gilbert girls basketball team was beset by low numbers this season, forcing the cancellation of JV games. For a game against Thomaston the Yellowjackets had just six players.  Certainly a school bus wasn’t needed to transport the players. All you need was a Volkswagen or a motorcycle with a couple of side cars. Heck, three bicycle-built-for-twos would have done the trick. Of course coach Gerry Hicks would have had to drive.

            BEST FOOTWEAR FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER -  Mike Kabelka and Jim Shannon of the Waterbury Republican wear quality treads and even our own Tim Gaffney who has been known to snap a shot or two is finely hoofed. But Jen Royals had a really glowing pair of pink sneakers at the Northwestern Regional- Immaculate Class boys semifinal game. Of course, colorful footwear is a trademark of the Royals’ clan.

            BEST SOUTH AMERICAN PIPELINE - Immaculate’s first two players introduced were from Brazil. Gilbert would have been happy with an import from Torrington or Norfolk.

            COACH OF THE YEAR – Could it be anybody else but Watertown’s Ed Sakl? Wins over Crosby and Holy Cross for the first time since the Last Supper. An NVL title for the first time since the Tet Offensive. A state championship game appearance for the first time since Naismith sanded the peach basket. All kidding aside what a great job and a great year for Watertown and its community.

            PLAYER (s) OF THE YEAR – We’ll stick to the BL here. On the girls side, take a bow Wamogo’s Kerri Stolle and Nonnewaug’s Caitlin Drakeley. Quality with class. They will be missed. On the boys side, Northwestern’s John Stevens does it as well as anybody.

            MOST MISSED COACH – Tell you didn’t miss the pink tie, hair wave and enthusiasm of former Lewis Mills coach Dennis Fowler.  

            BEST HOSPITALITY ROOM – Thomaston’s Bill Ryan put out a dandy spread that included shrimp for the BL Boys Tournament. Wamogo hosted the girl’s tournament but first-year A.D. Roberto Medic suffered penalty points because he could not make opening night and there was no hospitality room.

            So we put a capper on the basketball season. About time since the baseball season opens up Wednesday. But again it was a year worth remembering. The season ends, the memories remain. Let’s get outdoors.             

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