All-Area Baseball Player of the Year: Waterford's Nolan Long
Nolan Long, aptly named, cracked once during the basketball season that "Nolan" had ceased becoming his first name. Nah. It was "6-foot-9." As in "6-foot-9 Nolan Long."
You are your height, especially when it reaches such heights. Happily for Long, though, his career resume was even longer than his frame.
And he became one of the most distinguished athletes in the history of Waterford High School.
Long adds The Day's 2012 All-Area Baseball Player of the Year award to his accomplishments, which have included:
• A 38th-round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in the June draft.
• A 2012 AFLAC All-America Baseball nominee.
• A .360 batting average his senior year with a 0.88 earned run average.
• The Eastern Connecticut Conference Sportsmanship Award winner.
• Scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds in the state Class M basketball championship game, leading the Lancers to the first boys' basketball championship in school history.
• Named first team all-state by the New Haven Register and the Connecticut High School Coaches' Association in basketball.
• Will attend South Kent Prep and play basketball and baseball.
• And perhaps most importantly, spared the life of the opposing player who punched him below the equator during a basketball game earlier this season.
But then, that's Long, the latest definition of a gentle giant.
"I'm not even sure if the word 'great kid' does him justice," Waterford basketball coach Greg Gwudz said. "You hear all the time 'there will never be another like him,' but I think I can honestly say that at Waterford, there never will."
Long hails from a storied athletic family. His father, Jesse, was selected by the Yankees in the June, 1983, baseball draft. His mother, Jill, played basketball at Connecticut College. His sister, Alexa, plays college basketball at St. Michael's. Uncle Dennis played baseball and basketball at UConn. Cousin Stephanie plays basketball at Cornell.
And now Nolan Long has his choice between baseball and basketball, both of which he'll play at South Kent.
"My grades weren't always the best," Long said. "I thought this was the best option. It gives me a chance to study and learn and be better prepared for the future.
"I had a great time and a great experience at Waterford," he said. "I don't think I'll ever forget winning the basketball championship. My heart was beating out of my chest in the locker room before the game."
Long played for baseball coach Art Peluso in the spring, leading the Lancers to the state quarterfinals. In the winter, he teamed with guard Geary McLeod on a run that nobody saw coming.
"I'll take Nolan Long any day of the week," Gwudz said. "You give me that kid and I'll win every time. Show me a more skilled big man in the state."
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