Friday, March 27, 2015

A Wilton Disappointment

Wilton High School's field house
They aren't disappointed in Wilton. Oh goodness, no.

The Wilton High School girls basketball team - the Warriors - won a state championship last week.

I'm the one feeling the disappointment.

We had a fun day last Saturday. Thanks to the weather, a combination of Eric Gendron, Chris Kaelin, Jake Zimmer and I called three hockey games at venerable David S. Ingalls Rink in New Haven. It's quickly become one of my favorites places to work. Oh the press areas are small and I had to climb over the counter to get into it, and there can be the awful mix of raging egos of fellow reporters and broadcasters, but I overall like it. There are people I enjoy seeing as I try to earn my spot (after a mere 18 years) in the club of Connecticut media.

We wish congratulations to EO Smith/Tolland, Darien, and Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks. Each hockey champion won fair and square.

There was, however, no basketball on our air. This is where you will find my disappointment.

In short, it involved contracts and rights and so on. Hopefully they get it sorted out because I wasn't thrilled to see the (at least) three other radio stations that were allowed to show up at Mohegan Sun, while we had to leave our mics at home.

I'm disappointed for Kato, John Kovach, Paul Silverfarb, and Nora Delaney. Each one was looking forward to calling a state championship game. I've called so many, and they're still a big honor, and a huge responsibility that I do not take lightly. Kato would have had the call for at least a couple of the hoops games. Those would have been his first championship play-by-play gigs.

They were simply not to be.

I'm disappointed because I wanted to see Wilton - those Warriors - attempt to win the Class LL title.

We had only just met a few days earlier. I was setting up for a boys game while they were on the floor, practicing, when they spontaneously broke into The Star-Spangled Banner. I stopped, respected the flag, then applauded. Of course I said "Play ball." Once an awkward idiot, always an awkward idiot.

As I walked past them, I said, "See you tomorrow night."

Then they went out and beat Stamford the next night. We followed them to their semi-final matchup against Mercy at Jonathan Law High School under a week later. They won 55-54, to advance to their first state championship game.

After it was over, I interviewed Eric Meyer, a Providence College-bound senior. As we ended the interview, I told her that we would see her at Mohegan Sun. I laughed and said the Warriors were 2-0 with HAN Radio in the room. Politely, with a laugh of her own, she said she wanted us there for the championship.

Then we found out we couldn't go.

What made me want to go? A number of things, but one of them was just how excited they were. As we know, girls athletics don't get the attention. They were pleased to see us (or at least they acted it). They came on with Paul Silverfarb and I on Nutmeg Sports two days after they won the title.

They also deserve that attention because they're a terrific basketball team, and the second best team in the state of Connecticut, regardless of school size.

I wanted to go because it was a story I wanted to tell. It's a team whose core grew up together, and now they were 32 minutes from being a state champion. I wanted to see Erica, and Haley, and Erin, and Makenna and their teammates play South Windsor.

They won, 73-45. John Miscioscla has more at the Wilton Bulletin.

They didn't need us there, to be honest. They can get the video from CPTV, and I'm sure it was a perfectly fine call. They'd likely never remember the polite radio people anyway.

That wasn't the point.

I wanted us to tell their story, along with those of St. Joseph, Notre Dame of Fairfield, Westhill, Fairfield Prep, and Bunnell (local schools, all).

Nobody will lose any sleep, of course.

That doesn't squash the disappointment.

Instead of going to Mohegan Sun Saturday night - instead of figuring out all of the logistics - we called our three hockey games.

I smiled as I reported the Warriors championship (along with St. Joe's, and congratulations to them).

Then I packed up and went home.

I'm sure the Warriors bus ride back from Uncasville was a far more exciting affair.

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