Stonington's Calmar thrives on and off football field

Stonington's Harry Calmar, a two-way starter, takes instruction from coach A.J. Massengale during practice last Thursday. Calmar, a senior, has a variety of interests away from football, including a summer job at JW Beef Farm in Stonington, where "I could think and complete my own tasks and not be told what to do every day."

Stonington - Harry Calmar: High school senior. Football player. Stonington.

He admits: "I don't really do the social networking, Facebook stuff. I don't watch much TV. I pursue other hobbies."

Go figure. A teenager who looks you in the eye when he speaks, doesn't have to yell above his iPod to communicate and isn't a social networker.

A different kind of cat.

Maybe that's why his friend Divante White, the Stonington quarterback, calls Calmar "Bagheera," after a famous cat, the black panther in Kipling's "Jungle Book."

Kipling: "Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody dared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than down."

It's doubtful Calmar has ever been described to have a voice "as soft as honey." (The boys in the locker room will love that one). But the premise fits: What you see isn't necessarily what you get with Harry Calmar.

"Not your typical high school kid," Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. "Lots of different interests."

Massengale could go on for hours about him. And he'd need to.

Calmar, a running back/linebacker, isn't just a high school football player. He works on a farm (stress the word "work"). He loves to sail. He's taking a photo journalism class. And lest he think about misbehaving, he goes home to a notable dad, Judge Harry E. Calmar of the Windham District Superior Court.

Meanwhile, down on the farm, there is young Harry mowing pastures, herding cattle and building stone walls on the JW Beef Farm in Stonington.

"It's pretty hot. And it's physically taxing," Calmar said, thus making two-a-day football practices feel like a day at Misquamicut by comparison. "But I knew I wanted to be outside. I hate to be inside during the summer and I also wanted a job where I could think and complete my own tasks and not be told what to do every day."

Think and complete his own tasks, he says. What 17-year-old talks like that? Maybe that's why Judge Calmar can rest easy. He's got a gem here. (And with daughter Margot, too, of the Stonington girls' basketball team, a favorite subject of coach Paulla Solar).

"I would never want to do anything to jeopardize the position he's in," Calmar said of his dad. "But at the same time, I don't feel like I'm being held down, as long as I'm not being mischievous."

Calmar and the Bears open their season Friday at Fitch. Stonington is a three-time Eastern Connecticut Conference Small Division champ in the last six years. Time's passage will determine whether the Bears can win the Medium Division, too. But in Calmar, Massengale has a young man he can trust as much off the field as on.

"Just a great kid," Massengale said. "The kind you look forward to being around every day."


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