Column: An unprecedented year
How bittersweet is June?
For student-athletes at the high school, maybe not so much. Well, all not including seniors. Seniors may know what I'm talking about. The school year is over, but so is the athletic season. Now we've got this nice break between school years, but with that comes reflection of the past nine months. And in reflection, there's some sadness. It's always tough to say goodbye to a group of kids you've gotten to know.
So, a bit of a goodbye letter here, but also one of praise. This group certainly deserves it.
You have to wonder if there's been more interest in a New Canaan athletic calendar year than what we witnessed. I'm open to be schooled on the subject, because I don't know of a year when New Canaan won so many conference and state titles, ended rivals' winning streaks, set new school records, etc. Even with high expectations, the school's programs seemed to exceed them.
I sat at the Varsity Senior Athletes' Picnic and Awards ceremony Tuesday afternoon, thinking about what a strong class of student-athletes the school had this year. Yet, so many appear to be, well, regular. There aren't a plethora of physical specimens in the Class of 2010 at New Canaan.
It was a group of boys and girls who used their minds as much as their bodies. Sound like I'm sucking up? If you've read the column, you know that's not me. Just have to be honest about it, really. I was impressed with the leadership qualities of a lot of players this year.
I saw what the girls soccer team did in the fall. How it curbed its tendencies for on-field drama and turned into co-champions of the FCIAC (that game against Ridgefield still had no business finishing in a tie, by the way) and winning Class L, too.
And the girls basketball team (with a new head coach) winning 17 games, setting a new team record and suddenly becoming a team people feared. The Rams didn't have a lot of size -- just a quick-and-able point guard and some seniors who weren't afraid of their moment.
Wrestling got to a 22-3 record, more wins than any other season in program history.
Rich Bulan, who will never take credit, coached his team to blow through the girls ice hockey competition. Sorry, Rich, but you could've won last season with half that team. Just dominant. It's OK to win on talent alone sometimes, and New Canaan seems to have a long-lasting successful future on the ice.
The boys, too, as they won the FCIACs. Going back to smarts, I remember how well the team composed itself after an ugly game early in the season that involved cheap shots to the groin and sticks to the mouth. The group came out on the better side of it, and I never saw much of a negative attitude. It was more a determined, chip-on-the-shoulder approach.And in the spring, it was so good to see the softball team, coached by now-retired Larry Tomaselli, who helped bring the program to above .500. The group had talent, and from what I gather, was able to overcome some issues within the team. Ironically, it was the one group without a senior. Next year, they'll be stronger because of it.
I'm running out of space, but I have to list the tennis teams, crew and girls lacrosse, who all won titles, in large part because of the seniors that were involved. Though some of the teams here have turned into something resembling dynasties, it rarely gets old -- for so many up-and-comers are eager to write the next chapter.
Well, for the seniors, the book on high school sports has closed. As I watched the athletic class of 2010 enjoy itself on the day before graduation, at the picnic, I wondered they were truly cherishing the final moments of what, for most, will be the apex of their athletic careers. A lot of happiness in those moments of reflection. I just hope this column helps you hold on to it a little longer. Good luck, seniors.