Volunteering at Jennings was just what Mr. Mike needed

Published: June 15, 2019 | Mike DiMauro

This was Friday at Jennings School, which I like to call my new family. The last day. And so, all the administrators, teachers, staff (and me, the two-day-a-week cafeteria boy) are all out there waving as the kids embark on summer vacation.

Brayan Pena's story is one of hope, wonder and intrigue

Published: June 13, 2019 | Mike DiMauro

If the Cuban government was watching that definitive day now 18 years ago, well, let's just say Brayan Pena wouldn't be managing the Connecticut Tigers today.

Rollins has found much to celebrate about our community of New London

New London — This is not an easy time to be a New Londoner. Sordid developments within the schools have turned the city otherwise so full of characters and spirit into a punchline — even nationally — evidenced by Cedric The Entertainer’s one-liners about the...

Jones defying her age (25) and playing like an old-school veteran

Jonquel Jones, 6-foot-6, is shaped like 6 o'clock, but the rest of her game screams prime time.

It was the perfect (and fitting) ending for the Spellmans

Fittingly, their last official act as a high school sports family came with the youngest sibling picking up his championship medal.

Dr. I: Jared and Maddie Burrows accomplished something special for Waterford

(A bonus high school state tournament edition of) Idle Thoughts, while waiting for the utter joy of summer: • Dr. Idle, Dr. I to his close friends, must begin today’s discussion with a shout-out to the Burrows family of Waterford. They accomplished something this...

With six teams in state finals, these are rewarding times for ECC

We are about to embark on a historic two days here in our corner of the world, the final championship weekend of high school sports in Connecticut that has unwittingly become an ECC-palooza.

Misto earned her inclusion as part of the city of green and gold

New London — In the pantheon of all the other certainties and realities about New Londoners, this one bats leadoff: Suspicious of all outsiders. Assimilation into the 06320 from beyond the borders does not happen without strict scrutiny. It’s like trying to sneak...

Tech schools are altering the integrity of state baseball tournaments

The state’s governing body of high school sports bears many responsibilities, yet none greater than establishing an equitable baseline for the games our kids play. And while many of us quibble with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s applications at times,...

It was a day of illumination and inspiration at Clark Lane

A whole bunch of kids at Clark Lane Middle School not only raised more than $20,000 for various local charities and programs, but combined the athletic, academic and social into a day of illumination and inspiration.

Ulrich's next stop is Newport and the New England Tennis Hall of Fame

Geoge Ulrich, the affable Director of Tennis at Lyme Shores Tennis and Conditioning Center since 1993, will be inducted into the New England Tennis Hall of Fame next month in Newport, R.I.

Alyssa Thomas fits in just fine in our corner of the world

All of which makes Alyssa Thomas the perfect fit for our corner of the world.

Milton's life is celebrated through two passions: motorcycles and sports

The 12th rendition of the Big Red Motorcyle Run will begin at noon next Sunday at Smokey O'Grady's in East Lyme, a tribute to the memory Cory Milton, a former football player at Fitch who died too young.

East Lyme-Waterford hits all the right notes, as usual, despite the horn blowers

East Lyme — This was Thursday night on the turfed lawn of Dick North Field, another in the allegory that is East Lyme vs. Waterford, another occasion to experience our best high school rivalry in this corner of the world get better with each rendition. This time: lacrosse. The...

With love and support from the Duggans, Skipper refuses to fail

Tuzar Skipper, a graduate of Norwich Free Academy, a product of unconditional love from a Norwich family, is the newest Pittsburgh Steeler.

Dr. I longs for a time before all these inane stats were used

Idle Thoughts, while waiting for more exit velo, Gio Urshela for MVP and for calmer days in New London:

Here's why high school baseball offenses have hit the wall

Parents, most of whom know less than they think, are more psycho than ever.

Actions, not words, are the only thing that matters

Recently, a friend of mine posed the following question: What do you really give a hoot about now in this part of your life ... and have other things fallen off the list?

Through karate, Szczesny has become a beacon for others with adaptive needs

We are all, indeed, good at something. It's just that finding it isn't always easy. Which is why it really does take a village.

How can Conn justify not hiring Tyson Wheeler as its basketball coach?

How fitting, indeed, that Connecticut College's perch, looking down on the rest of the city, continues to offer such geographical symmetry for an institution that continues to act above it all.

Our kids are caught in the middle again ... this time in East Lyme

Maybe adults just can't help themselves. Maybe we're somehow hard wired to use children as pawns. Maybe using children is easier and more convenient than having hard conversations and making hard decisions.

Players get to decide if Sun go from good to great in 2019

This is where we begin with the Connecticut Sun in 2019: at last season's ending.

Never hate the regret of not trying more than the failure

Seldom am I rendered speechless. Honestly, I nearly cried. It was among the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

Our favorite indoor village green won't be the same without Frankewicz

Bailey Frankewicz represents an unintended consequence of my career choice: the number of kids I've met who have become friends. I never saw this coming.

Lawsuit against Miller comes at a precarious time for Ollie

Kevin Ollie's latest swing at grandstanding — suing Glen and Yvonne Miller for slander — came one day after published reports said Raphael Chillious, the man Ollie hired to replace Miller, was "in the room" for the secretly-taped, July, 2017 meeting in a Las Vegas hotel room that led...

Whalers discover that patience and positivity really work

All these years later, Missy Parker's words, echoing the Law of Attraction, still resonate with her New London softball team, the one that has risen from consecutive 0-20 seasons not long ago to a state tourney bid this spring.

WNBA players act more as independent contractors than teammates

The developments of this past weekend suggest that WNBA players don't know how lucky they are.

Mt. Holyoke picked the wrong time and the wrong place to make a statement

News item: Several members of the Mt. Holyoke College women’s lacrosse team chose to kneel during the national anthem before last Saturday’s game at Coast Guard Academy.

At East Lyme, James has become the real McCoy

One look at him suggests East Lyme's James McCoy would have few problems commanding attention. Kind of a big kid. Looks like he could bench press a Subaru.

Let games be decided by humans ... it's the earthy thing to do

Technology has a burgeoning place in sports. Instant replays and stat casts are all the rage now. They're supposed to be more informative and improve accuracy, but I'm not sure if it's what is best for our games.

Stewart's injury creates unrealistic salary comparision

We as a society must be mindful that inequity exists and vigilant to protect against it. But inane rhetoric that's a byproduct of a knee-jerk reaction to an unfortunate injury gets us nowhere.

We could learn a thing or two from these Rhode Island folks

And now for Rhode Island’s latest bout with efficiency: Its governing body for high school athletics recently passed a rule change allowing coaches to work with their players out of season.

Successful night at Sun will benefit all future ECC games our kids play

News item: After all the bills were paid, the Eastern Connecticut Conference said it made $31,240 from its boys' basketball tournament at Mohegan Sun. That's roughly $18,000 more than it generated in 2018.

Virginia's greatest adversity fueled its greatest triumph

Virginia's national championship Monday night, the year-long rebound from humiliation to jubilation, is one of the greatest sports stories ever told. Because it had everything — and nothing — to do with sports.

Everybody else is finally catching up to the Huskies

The evolution of women’s basketball has become a counterintuitive illustration for the UConn Huskies, whose history is of legend, but whose present has become more delicate.

McGraw's words have people talking ... and that's a good thing

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw's words here at the Final Four this week have made people uncomfortable. She has people talking. She has already affected change.

We've heard the good ... and bad ... from Muffet in same week

And so once again, sports offer us a window into humanity, this time in that "men are from Mars; women are from Venus" sort of way.

This was the day UConn flew on Katie Lou's aching back

When it was over, Crystal Dangerfield leaped into Katie Lou Samuelson's arms, the kind of bounce and joy normally reserved for family members at the airport returning from overseas.

The season's turning gives us all a chance to change

We meet centrally, this time at Sliders in Middletown, about a sacrifice fly away from where I grew up.

Father-son chats have become a lost art

Not everybody gets this opportunity, what with busy lives and wavering spans of attention, to just sit and chat with dad. About this and that, growing up, sports and life, whatever dads and sons talk about.

The life and times of Casey Cochran are shipshape right now

And this is the story of Casey Cochran, a young man whose age, 25, belies the wisdom he’s gained and subsequent courage summoned to conquer mental health issues.

Time, it appears, was on NFA's side

Here we are, essentially at the end now of NFA's conflict, and at least three administrators, including head of school David Klein, have taught a seminar on how to use the statue of limitations to your fullest advantage.

If you think nobody wants to play in Buffalo, you don't know Jack

We know of good wings, the Bills and baby, it’s cold outside.

Can this Huskies team give old State U the pickup it really needs?

And so they turn now to the women of Storrs for a glimmer, a reason to trumpet the present, a reason to thump a few chests again around here.

The kids I write about, unwittingly, came to my rescue over the weekend

Last week was one of the worst of my life. And a group of high school athletes unwittingly helped me through it.

For the CIAC, it was another great weekend of fun at the Sun

Turns out that Mohegan Sun is the greatest blessing ever rendered upon high school sports in Connecticut. The annual state basketball championships get better with each rendition.

Yes, they did it again ... with a huge lift from 'Oak'

They did it again, the Lancers did, adding another banner to the crowded walls of the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse. Waterford High, once the basketball punchline, is the state champion again.

Sometimes, in the spotlight of a major venue, we forget they're just kids

It was easy to forget this was a high school game. The greatest blessing of the state's high school sports revolution — increasing interest, awesome venues and seemingly higher stakes — is also its greatest curse.

Kenny Hill is on the top of the mountain, but has seen the bottom too

Kenny Hill: known to the community of Waterford as the point guard of the basketball team that goes for its second straight state championship this weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Whalers' all-female coaching staff is proof that empowerment is real

Introducing New London head coach Holly Misto and the rest of the gang: Arianna Dolock, Missy Parker, Sue Beil and Danielle Ferraro. They are the lone team among the eight finalists to trumpet an all-female staff.

Waterford folks team up to keep their Hoelck Tournament alive

The 40th rendition of the Neil Hoelck Memorial Tournament hit every note at the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse and the auxiliary gym up the hallway. Sixty-four teams, boys and girls of all ages and from surrounding towns, back to honor tradition.

It's time for rational rationale to fix CIAC's divisional inequities

After screaming about inequity in the state high school boys' basketball tournament (and all state high school sports) for years now — and dousing the CIAC in Frank's RedHot — we come today with a sack of Domino.

Band adds some pep to the New London experience

Whalerville has another hit on its hands, aside from girls' basketball, in pursuit of its third state title in six years. The pep band punctuates the home games with, you know, a certain peppiness.

Kudos to Montville for proposing to reinstate middle school sports

All levels of education are voyages of self-discovery. This is why middle school sports bear such significance, surely belying their frequent perch on so many budgetary chopping blocks.

Samuelson has one final chance to change the script

Here's the part of the fantasy that is UConn's reality: Impossible expectations in which anything short of a national championship engenders all the "what happened?" questions.

Gov. Lamont can solve the sports betting issue by himself

Gov. Lamont may need to channel his inner benevolent dictator if sports betting is ever going to happen here.

The ECC and Neon Uncasville are a perfect match

Two basketball games were played at Mohegan Sun Arena and nary a word was necessary to tell the story.

After running on empty, Mitchell quickly got back up to speed

Coach Todd Peretz's energy ran like a current through his players, who outlasted Newbury in overtime, earning Mitchell its second New England Collegiate Conference title in the past five years.

Bill Scarlata: A coaching icon with an understated touch

It is with a sense of bittersweetness that we bid adieu to Bill Scarlata, the greatest coach in the history of Norwich Free Academy, and one of the true greats in Connecticut basketball history.

New London marks the spot for X

Bacon coach Dave Shea alluded to Colchester resident Xariya Melendez, a senior at New London High, named the Eastern Connecticut Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player, following the Whalers’ 54-40 victory in the championship game.

It's Casey Flax's hope that everyone gets to dance, and she's seeing to it

Casey Flax’s angelic voice, a staple at recent New London Youth Talent Shows and the mellow background ambiance at many local establishments, shared an idea recently that’s consistent with her sphere: It truly sings.

We might be small in stature, but we're a basketball state

Perhaps it’s the size of our state that gives us the inferiority complex. Maybe we just lead the league in miserable. Whatever the reason(s), the sporting rhythms of Connecticut rarely mobilize into esprit de corps for our kids. Nah. We’re always quite guarded when grading their...

Dev's proof that we don't always get the ending we want ... or deserve

We've learned through East Lyme whiz kid Dev Ostrowski that the Great Unwritten Script — the reason sports captivate our attention — can leave us shaking our heads sometimes.

ECC wrestling tourney at Fitch has become a community affair

In the pantheon of massive missions, running a high school wrestling tournament belongs in anybody's starting lineup.

Berger has Fitch on the rise and a new outlook on life

And then D.J. Berger’s world changed, two life-altering events six months apart, proof that the guiding hand of the universe is benevolent, but counterintuitive sometimes.

Local programs learn the hard way that hitting "send" has its consequences

In recent weeks, high school athletes from the region and their regrettable pregame forays with social media have resulted in the suspension of a player at one school and an increased police presence at another.

It's time for NFA's faculty to stand up and be heard

NFA faculty will finally get an opportunity to be heard.

Old Lyme-Old Saybrook: A night that proves community trumps all

At times, it felt as though Friday night's basketball game between Old Lyme and Old Saybrook, was a mere backdrop for what the gym had become: the town green, the place to be seen, a meeting place for both towns.

The Rams Club of Southeastern Connecticut has this thing down pat

We have an official Rams Club here in our corner of the world, a dozen or so guys who gather every Sunday to cheer a lot, eat a lot, drink a lot, scream a lot, wear Rams garb and totally revel in their favorite team.

ECC enhances its reputation by broadening its horizons

The two marquee H.S. events in the state Saturday belonged to us. That's because Holly Misto and Mark Jones, the respective coaches, understand the necessity of elite competition and the lift it provides the ECC, too.

Notre Dame of West Haven solves problem with ingenuity

Notre Dame of West Haven just became a solution through finding a creative way to rid itself — and perhaps others who may follow — of a problem in state high school basketball.

Quinn's greatest strength at T-More is his ability to turn 'no' into 'yes'

There's just something mystical and fulfilling about St. Thomas More, Jere Quinn and the synergy between its mission and geography: back to basics amid the serenity that allows it.

UConn athletic success is good for state, but I don't see it happening

UConn officials will be left with some difficult decisions. I don't see a happy ending. Hope I'm wrong. UConn's success is good for us all.

Virtual 5K is latest creative gesture to support our CGA friends

Our corner of the world has never stood taller than in recent days, rallying to support Coast Guard Academy employees — suddenly Un-persons in the eyes of Big Brother — pay for life's basics.

We're proud to play a part in growing popularity of H.S. sports

They will start selling tickets around 5 p.m. Friday at East Lyme High for the most anticipated high school basketball game of the season to date in these parts: No. 6 Waterford at No. 7 East Lyme.

Flag football can serve as a safe haven for the game we love

New London — They appeared on television during last weekend’s divisional playoffs and they’ll appear again this weekend: infomercials from the National Football League encouraging parents to check out the burgeoning popularity of flag football, maybe the last bastion...

NFA's hierarchy, somehow, continues to walk between the raindrops

Not only was NFA's recently concluded independent "investigation" a sham, but patently irrelevant. Law enforcement and the legal system are the ones — the only ones — who get to be Mr. Klein's judge and juror.

We are all the better for seeing ... and knowing ... Steve Percy

This much we know about Steve Percy, one of the great humanitarians in this corner of the world: He lived the good life, using, as the old line goes, every single color in his box of crayons every single day.

ECC basketball tournaments need to be logistical ... there's nothing unfair about that

The residual effect of the recent announcement between the Eastern Connecticut Conference and Mohegan Sun, an agreement sending the boys’ basketball tournament championship games to Neon Uncasville next month, has produced mad props and bon mots from across the region and state. The...

Overall H.S. experience outweighs quick fix of prep school

There are an appreciable number of kids throughout the state that decided to forgo the remainder of high school careers to attend a prep school somewhere. It's all the rage now. And it's really sad.

Plenty of room to join the revolution of local high school sports

Something’s happening here, as Buffalo Springfield once reminded us, and the reasons ain’t exactly clear. But this much we know: There’s a high school sports revolution afoot in our corner of the world, the residual effect of which is for the everlasting betterment of the...

Everybody can't agree on most things, but Rivera should be an exception

Among the first litmus tests of 2019 for the sports media comes Jan. 22 when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America reveals its Hall of Fame class. The question du jour is not whether Mariano Rivera gets inducted. That’s a surer bet than when Rivera was on the mound...