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So long and thanks to those who gave so much.

POSTED September 15, 2010
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

          For some September is an ending. So long to those late sleeping, lazy 80 degree-days. Time to put the Speedo away (bless you if you can wear one effectively) and file the memories of the Cape, Jersey shore and anywhere else you tossed your vacation hat.

For the high school set, it is renewal time. A chance to reconnect with old friends, rev up the readin’, writin’ and rithmatic’ skills and get back on the fields and start the sweat glands moving.

Before we get into all of that, however, a little pause here to salute some familiar faces that will no longer be part of our fall season. Each new year brings changes and this one is no different. Yet, this time around there seems to be almost a surplus of impact players that will be hard to replace.

Start with Roger Ouellette who resigned as Watertown High football coach earlier this year. I will tell you this, Friday nights in the Valley take a hit without Ouellette around.

For two decades he was the face of the Indians. The trademark hooded sweatshirt, hat and clipboard were always a welcome and comforting site on Friday nights. And Ouellette always had a roster and lineup for you. He didn’t dodge a question and was a straight shooter.

Part of my Thanksgiving Day for almost all of Ouellette’s tenure has been covering the Watertown-Torrington game. I have seen him lose on the last play and dominate in other years.

Either way, he was always Roger – affable, willing to talk, glad to be part of it with a sense of humor. During the basketball season when he referees high school games an often-heard comment has been, “Hey Ouellette, this isn’t Watertown football.” His response – “You’re right, my kids don’t hit this hard.”

Friday nights and Thanksgiving Day have lost a lot with Ouellette’s departure. There is a void in the Valley with his absence. We wish him luck.

At Wilby, Athletic Director George Tirado called it a day after 35 years, 18 as the head sports guy. I never walked into the Wildcats’ cavernous gym without Tirado offering some kind of assistance. A chair, a sandwich, you name it Tirado was ready to provide it.

He was a mover and shaker in the NVL and his energy was always directed to providing opportunities for the student-athlete and improving the NVL. Plus he always had a first class hospitality room when the situation demanded it.  And he ways had time for us media types, particularly this one.

I have always joked with Dan Scavone about his big arms, but he is really about big class. One of the most knowledgeable, forthright, affable guys around, the Berkshire League and area has lost one of its top-notch people.

Dan has moved from his job as the Nonnewaug A.D. to being the big cahuna at massive Danbury High School. Through his years at Woodland and stops at Holy Cross and Nonnewaug, Dan was vital asset to both the NVL and BL.

Like Tirado, he couldn’t do enough for you. . A few years back during a football game at Woodland and before their press box was a reality, Dan let me sit about 20 feet up on a platform. The only problem was that somebody swiped the latter and I couldn’t get down.

Dan saw my problem and made sure a latter found its way to where I was. A huge and much appreciated gesture. I could still be sitting up there and those players are about 25 now. But that’s Dan, always looking out for your welfare.

I have never met anybody that didn’t respect Dan Scavone and you can put me at the top of the list. When he made the move to Danbury, I received a phone call. He said he appreciated our relationship and wanted me to know.

He is a major loss to this area and a major gain for Danbury. He will be missed.

For years Mike Fritch has educated and entertained us with his knowledge and passion as the Torrington High boys soccer coach. Only the second coach in the program’s history, Mike learned the game on his own and took the Red Raiders to great heights.

He said it was time after 31 years to put the ball away and turned the reigns over to his son, Mike C. The bloodline continues and we still have Mike during the winter as the Torrington High girl’s basketball coach. But, the fall season is certainly a bit different this time around. 

Mike also never minced words with us. He told us what he thought and we appreciated him for it. His dedication to the players has been immense. So we say thanks and enjoy a much more relaxed fall.

Newell Porch always welcomed you with a smile to a Torrington High sporting event. Newell hasn’t gone far, in fact he just traded in his Red Raider feathers for Nonnewaug Chief feathers, but heading up Red Raiders way won’t quite be the same.  

Mark Fowler has packed in his soccer ball as the Terryville girl’s coach. Not only was it fun to watch his team’s play. The Fowler Bowl when Terryville locked up with Mark’s brother, Dennis’s Lewis Mills powerhouse was always a blast.

Always a gentleman, he will be missed on the sidelines but like Mike Fritch he can still be found during the winter coaching the Terryville boys basketball team.

Every season brings changes. Some more than others. This fall we lost some giants who spent so much of their energy over the years on the sidelines or handling the A.D. duties.

From this spot, a hearty thank-you and stay in touch. Like the old Bob Hope theme song – “I’m so glad we had this time together.”    


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