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    Saturday, July 20, 2024

    Justin Kane: His contributions are electric

    Waterford — Virtually every parent in the history of the world has uttered some form of the “get good grades, go to college, get a job” spiel at their children.

    Of course, many of the same parents have also gone volcanic in the house when the power goes out or plumbing goes awry, underscoring the importance of our tradespeople and that perhaps college isn’t an obligation for everyone.

    And this is what Justin Kane, a Waterford kid, figured out long before most kids his own age. (People way older, too.) Under the original “go to college, then get a job” assertion, Kane, 21, would be near college graduation now, likely having assumed enough debt to start a small commonwealth and with no sure employment opportunities.

    Instead, he’s making a good living as a licensed electrician, working at Lisbon-based Lagace Electric. Consider that the average age for an electrician in the United States is 41, meaning that Kane might be up for National Electrical Rookie of the Year.

    It all began with Kane’s metaphorical Road Not Taken. He could have stayed with his friends in Waterford, played sports there and howled along with Lancer Nation during the time Mikey And The Buscettos filled the X. But then, as Frost’s poem reminds us, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by … and that has made all the difference.”

    Kane chose Norwich Tech instead. The rest, as they say, is current events.

    “So there was Lancer Nation, the football games and Mikey’s teams.They’re having fun at Buffalo Wild Wings after games, while I have to wake up for work the next day,” Kane said recently, alluding to how he was working at his trade even as a high school student.

    “It was difficult. I struggled sometimes because I wanted to go and join them. I could see myself getting left out of some things. But I saw the bigger picture. I saw the paycheck and it put a bigger smile on my face than going out with my friends and being stupid till 10:30 at night on a Wednesday.”

    Turns out Kane’s handiwork is a family trait. His grandfather, Gene Cioci, was a carpenter. Uncle Jim Kane is a master plumber and keeps UConn Avery Point running. His dad, Andy, when he’s not officiating basketball, works at Pfizer. And then there’s neighbor Rich Delossantos, who runs Rich’s Heating & Cooling, among the most successful local businesses in the region. He also thanked family friends Chris and Cindy Hersom for their guidance as well as Norwich Tech teacher Jamie Lamitie.

    “When I was 12, I helped my grandfather remodel bathrooms. He was a carpenter for 50 years,” Kane said. “I would work with him in the summers, remodeling houses, building new homes, new construction and working on all of his rental properties. On the side, I worked with my dad when I was 13 or 14.

    “I started to realize working with my hands is what I was better at. A desk job wasn't for me. I like to be active, on my toes, running around doing jobs. And I found at a young age, there was money in that field and I started making good money. So I decided to stick with it.”

    Kane, who played three years of basketball at Norwich Tech, finished all electrician-related classroom hours by the time he was 18. He graduated from Norwich Tech in 2020 — the COVID year — and began working even before he officially graduated. He actually began in the field as a student, as many technical school students do, working for Sanders Electric at 16.

    “It’s only been four years, but I've learned to be very mechanically inclined when it comes to all aspects of everything,” Kane said. “On job sites, I’ve watched how people do their jobs. How does this person run a pipe or how does Richie put up this duct work? It will just help you out in the long run. Bits and pieces of every other trade makes you a better electrician, even if it has nothing to do with wiring or electricity. And people skills are huge. You have to talk to clients in the right manner.”

    All of which Kane is learning as a rookie.

    “You can always learn the technical stuff. But you need the drive and a great work ethic,” Kane said. “And you better have thick skin. Every single job is with grown men. When I started off, I was the youngest guy on a job site by 35-40 years. A lot of pranks on me.”

    But then, Kane probably has the last laugh after all. He knew what he wanted. And who he is. And had the courage to leave his hometown.

    “Most of my friends, actually all of my friends, do go to college from Waterford. They’re either playing a sport in college or very smart kids,” Kane said. “And I love them for who they are. I guess I’m just different. But very happy.”

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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