WASHINGTON, CT >> Sometimes, a whole new world is right around the corner.
That’s what former Wamogo basketball and golf star Nick Nemergut (Wamogo ‘13) finds in a post-grad year at The Gunnery School, up the road from Goshen, in Washington.
Make that a new world with familiar overtones.
Nemergut was All-State and All-Berkshire League in basketball (1,156 career points) and golf (All-League for three years) as a Warrior.
“I knew from my sophomore year I would do a post-grad year for academics and athletics,” says the 6-foot, 190-pound basketball guard. “I looked around and liked The Gunnery School best.”
Nemergut had a part-time job at the Washington Golf Club; Berkshire League teams pass The Gunnery on their way to league-member Shepaug.
Best of all, after three straight seasons with just a few basketball wins, The Gunnery needed him.
Nemergut put up 20.4 points a game, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists as Wamogo’s point guard.
The Gunnery could use numbers like that.
Nemergut, with career thoughts about law or business, signed up for seven courses — a lot for post-grad work — ranging from English to statistics and dove into activities like the Gunnery’s a capella singing group, The Troubadors and the Chamber Ensemble (flute).
“Living at the Gunnery is a lot different from public school. It’s a more diverse group,” he said.
By the time basketball season rolled around, he was ready for a brand new coach as one of four new starters on the team.
Diverse? The center is from Kelowna, British Columbia; another player is from Los Angeles; three are from New Jersey; the rest from New England.
“We’re a bunch of really close friends,” says Nemergut. “It’s fun to be with a bunch of different guys; on the court, it doesn’t really matter.”
A new team, a new coach — Josh Cabrera, just graduated from Norwich University (Northfield, VT) after a 1,000-point playing career there — “a lot of people doubted us,” said Nemergut. “That was one of our great motivations through the season.”
The Gunnery is in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Division B, one step down from the biggest prep schools, though they play some Class A teams.
The level of play and the pace is several notches above the Berkshire League, but Nemergut played AAU basketball until his senior year at Wamogo, so that was no shock.
Losing big to Williston Academy in the opening game was the shock.
Were the doubters right?
The next game was a loss — by a disputed buzzer beat — to Division A power Trinity Pawling.
“Coming that close, we knew we were something special. Others knew it to,” said Nemergut.
Nemergut and his team proved it often in the 12-8 season that followed.
Playing as the shooting guard, with a green light from his coach, Nemergut rang up 26 points in a win that went down to the wire against The Berkshire School; the Gunnery won by 20 against Millbrook School without two Gunnery starters, including the big man.
Nemergut’s personal favorite was his own buzzer beater for a win at home against arch-rival Canterbury.
“Five seconds left, tie game, we had the ball at halfcourt,” Nemergut re-lives. “I passed the ball in to the wing, got it back, jabbed right, went left off a screen. I went by the defender toward the baseline, then threw a floater off the glass from eight feet, over their 6-8 kid. The shot went in, he fell on me and I got the and-one with .2 seconds left. Our fans went nuts.”
Teammate Darrion Bunce said, in a Gunnery release about the season, “I feel proud that I was part of the team that put Gunnery School basketball back on the map.”
Nemergut’s personal map still points to unknown territory.
He’s had contacts from Division III schools about basketball.
Some people think his golf game is even better.
He’ll play golf for The Gunnery this spring. He’s had contacts from Division III and above about golf.
“I’m pretty confused,” he laughs. “Wherever I go, I’m going to try to play.
“Whichever one I choose, I’m still going to be involved in the other.”
Wherever that is, it’s likely to be a whole new world…that’s familiar after all.