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

Thoughts & Reflections with Jiggs
by Robert “Jiggs” Cecchini, Interim Executive Director, Connecticut High School Coaches Association
What in the world?
   To say this has been an unusual year for the CHSCA is an understatement. It has been one of heart breaks for many throughout the year.
We had a great start in August with a productive fall. Our year would soon be turned upside down when on October 18, John Fontana, our Executive Director and friend to so many, passed away. For me it was a complete shock, to be in the unenviable position of filling in as Interim Executive Director. However, having been John’s right arm since 1985, as treasurer, it seemed natural because the two of us had shared many thoughts and dreams for the Coaches Association.
I was proud and pleased that the Finance Committee asked me to fill in and start the procedure of finding a permanent replacement. This should be an easy assignment – not knowing what was ahead. Our annual Hall of Fame banquet was a tremendous success with an enthusiastic crowd.
Then, in early December, we had to postpone three fall banquets because of a huge snowstorm that closed our state. With help from The Aqua Turf, we were able to reschedule in mid-December. Thank goodness, all events had the opportunity to recognize their athletes.
As the winter season progressed, we were excited with what the state tournaments would bring.
However, in mid-January, we learned of the death of one of high
school basketball’s biggest fans, Sheila Beneski. She was considered the first lady of Connecticut high school basketball. Sheila and her husband, Frank, will always be considered the first couple of high school sports. (See related article in our magazine by Hartford Courant sports writer Lori Riley).
The winter season sports community had big plans for state tournaments, All-State selections, All-Star games, sports banquets and New England competitions. Then we were hit by the COVID-19 crisis that would close our schools and all related programs. This is an extremely dangerous virus that would kill many in Connecticut, our country and humans worldwide. This virus was so explosive that schools were closed immediately, with the CIAC cancelling all winter sports on March 10 and Governor Lamont closing schools on March 17, which he would later extend to May 20.
This would leave us with many questions. What would schools do for learning and what would they do about activities with the schools being closed?
Then on April 4, Art Rich, who was a strong supporter and friend to the CHSCA, passed away after battling COVID-19. His company, Art Rich Photography, has faithfully been our photographer at all banquets for the past 20 years (please see related article in this magazine).
Not knowing what to expect for
the spring season, all schools had high hopes for a partial season after May 20. In late April, the CIAC would announce the elimination of all spring tournaments.
Still hurting from this news, the Governor closed all schools for the remainder of the school year on May 5. This formally ended our spring sports programs.
What have we learned from all this and what lessons can we teach our athletes? The word perseverance comes to mind. Our athletes are going to face many difficulties in their lives. Things will not always go as they had hoped and planned. They must adjust to these difficult moments, be strong and learn from these experiences. This will help later in life.
As we move forward, it has been a privilege to serve the CHSCA as Interim Executive Director. I will forever be grateful, honored and humbled to have had this opportunity.
I know in my heart that whoever takes over our leadership in the future will have an extremely talented and dedicated Executive Board and Sports Chairs with which to work. I look forward to helping this person adjust in this new role.
Without everyone’s help, I wouldn’t have been able to do this job and I am thankful for your support.
Thank you sincerely, Jiggs.

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