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Carignan kept a promise and has a college degree

There was a time in Andrew Carignan's life when he could have reenacted the Leonardo DiCaprio, king-of-the-world thing from "Titanic," only maybe right there on the mound, not the side of a boat. Imagine: This kid from our corner of the world finally makes it to the bigs, with the Oakland A's, a life's work to be admired.

But then Carignan, always one of Norwich Free Academy's favorite sons, began to learn that familiar, if daunting, forewarning of life: Tomorrow has this habit of showing up. And when baseball is over, what would he do with the rest of his life?

"I had never been hurt, really, in my life and then things kind of snowballed," Carignan was saying by phone the other day from North Carolina, where his new life's venture has begun. "From 2009 on, I kept thinking almost every year, 'this could be it.'"

And so Carignan, a 2004 NFA grad who was a cornerstone of John Iovino's 2003 championship team, remembered that significant detail from his first professional contract: We'll pay for college. All Carignan had to do was return.

Now's he a University of North Carolina graduate making his first foray into the business world. Carignan and former teammate Rob Gilliam have created (and launched) a new phone app called "Localfit," which with a wink and a nod to the MoviePass model, allows members to pay a flat monthly fee to receive access to more than 5,000 health clubs and workout facilities when away from home, allowing unlimited workouts while traveling for business or leisure.

Hence, if you've ever been on the road either looking for a gym or hyperventilated at the exorbitant one-day fees, Carignan has your answer. Download the app and let it do the work.

"I remember I used to work out with Tim Yuhas," Carignan said of the Niantic-based trainer who also does work with the Connecticut Sun. "That was easy. But when I went on the road? Problem. We had an eight-month baseball season and would try to cram a year's worth of a social life into four offseason months. When we'd travel, trying to find a place to work out was a pain.

"Then as I started to get hurt more, I realized I needed specific amenities in gyms. That's what our app allows."

It is free to download, costs between somewhere between $6 and $20 per month, Carignan said, but does not allow users access if they're fewer than 35 miles from home, thus protecting local gyms and facilities.

And so this kid longtime NFA assistant coach Duke Campbell used to call "Drewski" has a hit on his hands here. Pretty ingenious. Sort of warms you all over that even the ones who leave because of sports one day figure out that education is really the answer.

"I've heard that less than 20 percent of players who sign contracts actually use the college stipend," Carignan said. "But I made an agreement with my mom that I would go back and get my degree, no matter when it was."

Drewski and the Wildcats finished No. 1 in 2003, defeating Amity — the program that would soon win four straight Class LL titles — in the state championship game. He returned the next year to beat Amity again, leading NFA back to the finals. The best days ever for Iovino and Campbell whose arms hung every day from throwing too much batting practice. But nothing else ever hurt so good.

Carignan appeared in 17 games with the A's in 2011 and 2012. He retired in 2015 before returning to school. Now he's a husband and entrepreneur, illustrating that life really can get better, even when the rhapsody of the big leagues becomes a mere echo.

"I hope people enjoy this and use this," Carignan said of his app.

Although the same could be said of his story.

Enjoy it and use it. Because tomorrow has this habit of happening.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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