Page 20 - CHSCA Issue 3 2019-2020
P. 20

This Suffield couple attended
 thousands of Connecticut high
school basketball games
The CIAC is now dedicating its tournaments to the late wife’s memory
Reprinted with permission
It wasn’t just Frank and Sheila.
“It’s ‘FrankandSheila,’” Frank Beneski said of his wife Sheila. “It’s one word. That’s how close we were. We did everything together. I miss her terribly.”
So does the state’s high school basketball community. Frank and Sheila were the ultimate fans of Connecticut high school basketball, attending approximately 125 boys and girls basketball games per year for the last three decades. They saw thousands of games. They knew all the coaches. They knew all the players. They knew all the officials. The parents. The gyms. The media. Everybody.
If they showed up to a game, it was deemed “Frank and Sheila worthy.”
“There were people who said, ‘Well, I’m not going to see much of you next year,’” Frank said. “I said, ‘Oh?’ ‘Well, we’re not Frank and Sheila worthy.’ I heard that from a lot of different people. Like there was some kind of a bar.”
People were wondering what was going on in December when the high school basketball season started and they weren’t there. Sheila, 76, had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer
last September. She died Jan. 17. In 2009, Frank and Sheila Beneski of Suffield were attending their 111th high school basketball game of the season at Central Connecticut State University to watch the Class L semifinal between Bulkeley and Northwest
Frank wants to talk about
her, the love of his life, his wife of 55 years, but it’s hard, and sometimes he gets choked up. They did everything together. And they loved high school basketball.
“She was such a sparkling light,” Frank said. “When she’d walk into a gym and people would see her, she would smile. People just gravitated to her.”
Frank, who has lived in Suffield most of his life — “West Suffield,” he clarifies — played basketball at Suffield High in the late ′50s. He made the pass that resulted in the shot that won the 1960 Class S state championship his senior year, a 64-62 victory over now-defunct St. Anthony’s of Bristol. His junior year, he played soccer to get in shape for basketball, and Suffield shared a state championship with Hale-Ray, tying the Little Noises, 2-2.
In junior high, Sheila’s brother Danny was his friend; they played basketball at lunch together. Frank knew his friend had a sister who was a year younger but didn’t
think much of it until they were both in high school.
Frank and Sheila’s first date was May 15, 1959, a sock hop at a local church. She was a sophomore at Our Lady of the Angels Academy in Enfield. He was a junior at Suffield High.
Within six weeks, they had alreadysettheirweddingdate.It would be in five years — June of 1964, after Frank graduated from college.
“People said to us, ‘You’ll never make it,’” Frank said, laughing.“Butwewerebothvery purposeful.”
They were actually married a little later, Aug. 22, 1964 — Carl Yastrzemski’s birthday, Red Sox fan Frank notes — after Frank graduated from the University of Hartford. He played basketball there for two years, but it got to be too much for him after his father died when Frank was 18. Frank’s youngest brother Ted was four years old. Frank helped raise him, including going to almost all of his soccer, basketball and baseball games. Sheila went, too.
“That really sort of started it,” Frank said. “He graduated in ‘74. So the ‘70-71 season was when we really started. We didn’t go to 125 games back then, but we went to all of his games. At the end of his season, I used to take him to tournament games, just to
 PAGE 20 • CONNECTICUT COACH • ISSUE 3 • 2019-2020

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