Everybody should have a teammate like Tyler Peretz

New London – There is something mystical about the kinship sports create, perhaps none more pronounced than the fellowship of father and son. Sports are the conversation starter, the demilitarized zone and the common ground, sometimes able to spawn a lifetime of memories in a fleeting moment.

Todd Peretz had a moment with his now college-age son, Tyler, a few years back, coaching sonny on an eighth-grade travel team. Ah, but Tyler was off to high school and college soon enough, playing for other coaches, rendering the whole father-son experience to kitchen table discussion.

Turns out fate had a way better story planned, reuniting them now at Mitchell College, where Todd Peretz has been the basketball coach for 20 years. Tyler is a freshman there, playing for his dad, the old days all over again.

“That year, when Tyler was in eighth grade (2014) was the same year we went to the NCAA Tournament,” Todd Peretz said the other night, after his Mariners defeated Elms College. “One of the best experiences ever, coaching eighth graders and also in the NCAAs. So now that this opportunity has come back again, I just want to embrace it.”

Pretty cool story. It’s not every dad who gets to critique his son’s game every day … and actually have the kid listen.

“It always makes for an interesting ride home after practice,” Todd Peretz said. “I think it’s always a teachable moment. I’m sure he gets frustrated at times. But every day we get in the car his first thing is ‘how did I do today?’

“Sometimes I sit back though and forget how difficult it is for him. Not just being with me, but being around all the other players as the coach’s son.”

Tyler said, “I appreciate that my dad is always trying to put me in successful spots and wants what’s best for me. I’m learning the college game is completely different. You’re playing for a little more now. Like how everybody else knows I’m the coach’s son and I feel like I to prove myself a little more.”

One thing about Tyler Peretz: God never created a better teammate. Basketball is a joy for him, but hasn’t always been joyful. He barely played last season as a senior at Waterford High, relegated to cheering on his friends’ rainbow ride to a state championship. And yet rather than complaining his way through the season, Peretz embraced it.

“I admit, it was really hard,” Tyler said. “Especially with senior year and everything. But I’ve been taught to be a team first kind of kid. How could you ever complain when you end the season with a state championship? I try to make my teammates better before myself better. Put the team first. That’s really what kept me going.”

Waterford coach Bill Bassett, discussing the possibilities of the upcoming season the other night during a scrimmage, mentioned the importance of “the next Tyler Peretz” emerging. As in: Will there be a kid who doesn’t play as much willing to accept his role and be a great teammate?

“From the time we moved to Waterford and Tyler stepped in as a junior, Coach Bassett welcomed him with open arms,” Todd said. “It’s always difficult, sure. You want success. You always want more. But I always tell Tyler there are only two things you can control: attitude and effort. He did a great job with that.

“Tyler’s pretty honest in his assessment of his abilities, which in today’s day and age a lot of people aren’t. Lots of coaches aren’t. A lot of parents aren’t about their kids. I know what Tyler can and can’t do. I tell him ‘three dribbles or less, if you’re open shoot it, play to your strengths and be coachable.’ He’s a good teammate.”

Tyler Peretz is playing mostly with Mitchell’s junior varsity, a nice adjustment to the college game for him as well as New London grads Jalen Benson and Isaiah Benson and St. Bernard alum Hunter Baillargeon. Not much has changed. Tyler Peretz does what he does with smiles, encouraging words and notable effort.

“I’d like to say that call comes from me,” Todd Peretz said, chuckling, “but nah. It comes from his mother (Denise). She’s a really nice person. I’ve told Tyler for a long time about being a good teammate.

“It sounds corny, but I was a freshman in 1980 at St. Bernard, playing for coach (Rich) Pagliuca. To me, being able to get a pair of those candy striped warm up pants and be in the layup line before the varsity game was one of the most unbelievable experiences. Unfortunately, today’s kids and their parents don’t look at it that way. If they’re not playing or have a significant role, it’s easier to move elsewhere. That’s not how we brought Tyler up.”

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro



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