Page 15 - CHSCA Fall-Winter Magazine 2020-2021
P. 15

“He created that family cul- ture which had us relying on each other, to push each other, to be great,” says Mike Peterson, a 1998 NBHS graduate who played at the University of Rhode Island and, – like so many of Corto’s former players – has come back to the family as a Dean of Students and coach at his alma mater.
Peterson – who played for Corto with future UConn star running back Chris Bellamy, as well as Mel and Eric Elliot of Dean College and Bubba Osborn of the University of New Haven – credits the city pride Corto instilled in his players with being a big part of New Britain’s identity.
“He has a lot to do with that Hurricane pride mantra,” says Peterson. “He just embedded hav- ing pride in where you’re from. It didn’t matter who we played. It was New Britain versus everybody else.”
Jakubowski especially appre- ciated Corto’s efforts to cre- ate opportunities for his guys to set themselves up for successful futures.
“He was a guidance counselor type of a coach,” says Jakubowski. “He cared about winning, don’t get me wrong. But he cared more about kids than he did anything else. He got more kids into college than most coaches did. He took kids to take their SATs wherever they were available – he’d drive them there on Saturdays to make sure they had a score that was going to qualify them for college.”
“That leadership of him doing that – that’s what we do now,” says McDew. “Because that’s what we have to do in New Britain. There’s not a lot of parents who know about college. A lot of these kids are first-time college attendees in their families. They don’t know about SATs and how to visit a col-
Corto is shown with Michelle Abraham, girls and boys volleyball coach at New Britain High School.
   lege. Corto started all that.”
As the 1990s came to an end, Corto once again moved up, mak- ing the move from the sidelines to the athletic director’s office. Although giving up coaching foot- ball was difficult for a lifer of the game, Corto remained a coach true and through in his new role overseeing the New Britain athlet-
ics department.
“The most impressive thing
about Lenny Corto was that he never stopped being a coach, even as an athletic director. He just had new people to coach,” said Jakubowski, who led the commit- tee to hire Corto as AD when he himself became assistant superin- tendent. “They were his coaches, but they were also the kids who played.”
Jakubowski points out that the team of coaches he has hired and oversaw are either alumni them- selves or have strong ties to New Britain. “They reflect him,” says Jakubowski. “He brought them all back home.”
They include Tebucky Jones and now Isaiah Boddie with the
football team, Roberto Mercado with baseball, Michelle Abraham with girls and boys volleyball, Joel Simmone with softball, Lisa Kawecki with cross country, and Beryl Piper with girls basketball.
If he does go outside, as New Britain did with him, he looks to bring in people like Kurt Reis with boys basketball, who can relate to and communicate with kids and adopt and instill in them that unmistakable New Britain pride, just as he did ever since he arrived.
Most importantly, all of his team of coaches represent Corto’s qualities of integrity and have built programs based on a founda- tion of family.
He has always cared about making game day a special experi- ence for every Golden Hurricane student-athlete and the commu- nity that backs them. He and fac- ulty manager Bill Ackerman never miss a New Britain High School home game at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium or Chick Shea Gymna- sium, leading his family of coaches who staff the home games in mak- ing them run smoothly and with
 PAGE 15 • CONNECTICUT COACH • ISSUE 1 – 2020-2021

   13   14   15   16   17