ECC wrestling tourney at Fitch has become a community affair

Groton — It wouldn't be the way to bet, thinking that something so chaotic could be so systematic. But the rattle and hum inside Fitch High on Saturday, kids and parents and coaches and officials in constant motion, belied the precision of the production.

Indeed, in the pantheon of massive missions, running a high school wrestling tournament belongs in anybody's starting lineup. And nobody does it better than the folks at 101 Groton Long Point Rd., a collaboration of cooperation that sustains the whole "it takes a village" theme.

"An amazing undertaking," said the quarterback of the operation, forever team mom Nancy Kosman, whose son, Jarod, graduated last year from Fitch among the most decorated wrestlers in state history.

Momma Kosman made sure everybody ate (and ate and ate) for hours upon end all weekend, a neat trick considering the gaggles of fans, coaches, officials and ravenous wrestlers who stalked the halls.

"First of all, the wrestling parents are great," she said. "Everyone was told to make a meal, a baked good, bring a case of water and a case of Gatorade. They all did. No questions asked.

"Then me and another dad went out to get sponsors for food. I basically said that our coaches and refs work hard and don't get paid for their services. I mean, they do, but come on. I refuse to have them pay for food and I want them to eat well. They usually try to out-do each other on who makes the best stuff."

And so Christopher's, Mr. G's, Dominos, Il Pomod'Oro, 84 Tavern, Mystic Market, Chester's BBQ, Pick Pockets, Stonington Pizza, Dog Watch and even former official Bernie Nasser took the time to cook for the kids. Lest anyone forget: Community involvement counts. The kids need it. And they notice.

Nancy Kosman, a dental hygienist at Contemporary Dentistry in Groton, works a full time job, too. Much of this is done on her own time.

"I'm giving back because Fitch was so good to Jarod and I love wrestling," she said. "It's important to me that this runs as smoothly as possible.

"I'm at home every night doing this. I baked all the muffins. You have to want to do this. I think wrestling parents are unique. They know what it's like to spend eight hours in a gym two days in a row. They know it's important to have good food. Like fruit. Not that anyone eats that. Fitch puts a little extra into it. All the table help. All the volunteers. Thursday night we were here till 930-10 o'clock setting up."

Fitch coach Mark Kosman, Jarod's dad: "We have tremendous parents. They hustle. It's a big venture to have them participate and donate their time. You need someone in charge. Luckily, I have Nancy doing that. She's good at coordinating people. Our hardest thing is someone at the point of attack contacting all the parents."

Then there's wrestling. Brackets, meetings, weigh-ins. The round of 16, first-round consolation, championship quarters, second-round consolation, championship semifinals, consolation quarters, consolation semis, third/fourth finals, fifth/sixth finals, championship finals, the awards presentation and the perpetual updating of results.

Happily, the ECC has Dave Nowakowski coordinating all this. They call him "Nowa," which, fittingly, is pronounced the same as "Noah." Now we know there are two Noahs out there who worked 40 days and 40 nights with a flood of responsibility. We'd love to have quoted Nowa here, but how could he have time to talk?

"He's awesome. The best," Mark Kosman said. "He's a walking computer. His passion for the sport is like nobody else's."

"He's the best," Nancy Kosman said. "The absolute best organizational skills. Talk about keeping a thing moving. This is his niche. He gets it. This will be on time. If he says finals are a certain time, they're at a certain time."

Mark Kosman, meanwhile, uses his background in photography and graphic design to custom design the championship bracket for all winners. That little extra.

"Instead of normal brackets with lines on them and a stick figure drawing of a wrestler," Kosman said, "we do it with team logos. It looks pretty cool."

Happily, the ECC baseball finals are at Fitch, too, leaving open the possibility of similar hospitality. Athletic director Marc Romano, when he wasn't running around answering his walkie talkie, already began politicking Nancy Kosman to feed the masses again.

Romano has the media's full support on that one.

And this, too: ECC wrestling has a permanent home at Fitch. Nobody does it better.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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