South Windsor’s gain is Middletown’s loss.
As reported in The Press Friday, Dave Sytulek, the MHS boys basketball coach, has taken the athletic director’s job at South Windsor High School, an academically highly-regarded Class LL school. The principal at South Windsor is Dan Sullivan, who was a vice-principal at MHS and knows Sytulek well.
The associate superintendent at South Windsor is the former associate superintendent of Middletown, Dick Cormier, who hired Sytulek 18 years ago. Sullivan told me how happy he is to get Sytulek. He should be.
Sytulek is bright, even-tempered and most importantly, thoughtful. He doesn’t react emotionally, he thinks things through, and really likes kids. He has successful coaching experience at the varsity level, handles the media well, saying things carefully, but making points that have to be made. In short, he has demonstrated much of the criteria one looks for in an AD.
He was an applicant for the MHS job and I thought he had the potential to be an outstanding AD. That is not intended in any way to detract from the other applicants in the slightest. I just thought — as South Windsor does — that he would make a good one.
I find it more than a little disconcerting that Middletown let an 18-year veteran, an acknowledged solid PE teacher and clearly a very good basketball coach — he had 99 wins in seven seasons, an average of 14 wins a year — get away. People like Sytulek don’t grow on trees.
Sources tell me that the final round of interviews for the Middletown AD job is Tuesday night with the Board of Education. The surviving candidates have gone through three rounds already. Four rounds? Sounds to me like it might be easier to be nominated to the Supreme Court.
Another thing I find goofy. One administrator also told me that in all interviews, committee members must ask exactly the same questions of all candidates. No follow-ups allowed.
So I asked why. I was told that tends to quantify things; everybody is judged fairly on the same questions. They really believe that? I mean, really?
Hiring is as much a feel thing as anything. The paper qualifications — and by the way, getting qualified as an administrator can’t be too tough; seems like everyone has the certification these days — only take you so far. All paper does is get you in the door.
I am convinced any one can get a sense of someone outside of any check list. I didn’t need a rubric — an piece of educational jargon we used to call criteria or standards — to know what I know about Sytulek. This asking the same questions of everyone sounds to me the same as teaching art through painting by the numbers.
I am told that the committee that screened all the applicants for the Middletown AD numbered 11. Too many. Five is plenty. Six tops.
Then, I was told that not only did the applicants have to go through two interview sessions with the Gang of Eleven, if they survived that, they had a one-on-one with the Superintendent. Now, the erstwhile three survivors (until Sytulek went where, in his words, he “felt wanted”) is down to two, one local and one outside the district.
“This process was intense,” said Sytulek. I can think of other descriptive phrases.
Contrast that through-the-wringer approach with South Windsor. Two interviews. One with a committee of six that included a student and a parent, a coach — Neil Rodman, an MHS alumnus — a couple of others and Sullivan. Second was a committee of four central office folks. Bingo, that’s it. Plenty.
But Middletown has a history of forming huge committees for just about everything. When the Board decided to set up a committee to name the athletic facilities at MHS and Wilson Middle five years ago, there were so many people — with the predictable agendas — that everything short of the lavatories got named after someone.
I also hear that the process for hiring the new vice-principal at MHS was, in one veteran, knowledgeable teacher’s opinion, “ridiculous.” But I have enough trouble keeping up with the sports end of things to worry about who goes in and out of the revolving door office of vice-principal.
“It was a difficult decision because in 18 years in Middletown I have made a lot of close friends and developed some excellent professional relationships,” said Sytulek. “I also had wonderful students and student-athletes with whom I worked, taught and coached. Middletown was a great experience. But South Windsor made me feel wanted.”
No question, Middletown’s loss.
The following Xavier students won awards at the school’s spring sports awards night. Baseball: Most Improved, Dan Lawlor; Highest Batting Average, Pat Downey; Coaches Award, Will Garrity; MVP, Alex Parkos; Senior Award, C.J. Caprio.
Crew: Most Improved, Timothy Morris; Coaches Award, Steve Bruno; MVP, Timothy Brough; Senior Award, Benjamin Baumgaertner; Golf: Most Improved, Michael Zaccariello; MVP, Bryan Stanton; Senior Award, Brian DeVille.
Lacrosse: Most Improved, Ross Bohan; Coaches Award, Nick Howard; MVP – Offense, Wes Reid; MVP – defense, John Berkinshaw; Most Valuable Overall, Greg Onofrio; Senior Award, Tom Vanacore.
Track and Field: Freshman of the Year, Nate Kiley; Most Improved, Justin Saks; MVP – Track, Zach Williams; MVP -Jumps, Derrick Ward; MVP – Throws, Josh Swanson; Coaches Award, Owen Wrinn; Senior Award, Luke Velez.
Sailing: Most Improved, Jack Xenelis; Coaches Award, Nick Porter; MVP, Gordon Gurnell; Most Valuable Crew Award, Robbie Morrison; Senior Award, Ryland Parker. Tennis: Most Improved, Dylan Amble; Coaches Award, Ross Ayer; MVP, Richard Ciamarra; Senior Award, John Borea.
Ultimate Frisbee: Most Improved, Joe Kane; Spirit of the Game, Collin McLaughlin; Coaches Award, Zach Radel; MVP, Joe Braun; Senior Award, Angus Lamont. Volleyball: Most Improved, Karl Sturm; Coaches Award, David Sonski; MVP, Kevin Berger; Senior Award, Dan Colavecchio.
Middletown High’s spring awards will appear here next week.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Fran Monnes was a legend. In Cromwell, the man was revered. A wildly successful and beloved baseball coach he was, but he was so much more.
He was an engaging, humble, wonderful guy. I last saw him at the Cromwell vs. Somers state quarterfinal round game at the field named in his honor at Cromwell High School. He remained sharp and a wise baseball man, always willing to tell yet another baseball story and tell stories about the good times he had playing golf with his buddies, especially former Middletown High coach John DeNunzio.
I umpired games for Fran and I remember one game I was doing the bases. I had a call at first I missed. Missed it badly. There was some technical stuff that went on that was behind the call, but I forget all of that.
What I remember is that Fran argued long and loud — although always with appropriate language — and I remember a big photo that ran in the Press with Fran, arms spread wide, arguing with me. The cutline to the photo said what happened and that I changed the call.
I got it wrong, I fixed it, but boy did I look stupid (deservedly) in The Press. Fran’s attitude towards me after the game or the next game? Like nothing had happened. He was friendly then and friendly every time I met him. What happened on the field, stayed on the field. I am grateful to say that our paths crossed many times.
He was a great ambassador for baseball, for coaching, for the education profession, and for his beloved Cromwell. We often say that a person will be missed. That applies exponentially for Fran Monnes.
Let’s all hope that he is in a better place and that one day, we all will be in that place and tell those stories again and again. Good night, Fran Monnes. Here’s hoping for a sweet forever.
HERE AND THERE
The Middletown Legion Baseball team will hold its annual Norm Way Memorial game Sunday, June 29, prior to the first game of a double header with Zone 3 rival Westbrook and inter-zone opponent Branford … the brief ceremony in which Way, a veteran of World War II and who fought across Europe to the final defeat of Germany in 1945, will be held at 3:45 p.m. prior to the game with Westbrook at 4. Proceeds go to the Greater Middletown Military Museum.
Way was heavily involved in both the Ahern-Whalen Intermediate Baseball League, then in the Post 75 Legion program.
- The hiring of a basketball coach at MHS to replace Sytulek will be interesting … again, this is no place for a novice … it’s a destination job at a school with seven state championships and a team that is expected to win more than it loses every year … also look for Sal Morello, the MHS football coach, to get moved up to the high school PE Dept. from Wilson now that Sytulek’s position is vacant. Also, bet a nickel that Nick Libera, the MHS girls soccer coach, gets a PE position somewhere in the district … he is certified in both special ed, a job he now holds at the high school, and PE … and depending on who gets the AD job, there might be other openings in coaching and in PE … fun times ahead … stay tuned.
- The Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-Star football game will be held at Rentschler Field in East Hartford this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. … the game is being billed as the Super 100 Classic that it will feature the top 100 players in the state … area players on the teams — there are two Connecticut teams — include Will Garrity and Andrew Meoli from Xavier and Jacob Homar, David Bednarz, Jeff Woodcock, Sam Rivera and Rajahn Johnson from Middletown High … advance tickets are $8 and may be purchased from Tim Feshler at 860-306-9906.
- Xavier basketball player Brandon MacPherson will be playing at Eastern Connecticut State University next winter … MHS football star Dario Highsmith has another scholarship offer, this time a full ride to Fordham … “We are taking our time,” said dad Dario Sr.
- The three-year old youth lacrosse program in the city is growing fast, said Justin Deegan, the head coach of the boys Senior Blue Team (seventh and eighth grade) … the team won the Connecticut Valley Youth Lacrosse state championship on June 8 … the team beat Glastonbury 9-2, Burlington 6-5, then won the title game, coming from behind to beat Somers 8-7 … Deegan, who also coaches the MHS boys club lacrosse team, said, “Middletown is one of the best up and coming youth lacrosse programs in the state.”
- Xavier golf coach Mike Kohs has been named Southern Connecticut Conference Coach of the Year … freshman Richard Ciamarra was named SCC Player of the Year in tennis and Kevin Berger was SCC Player of the Year in volleyball.
- Middletown’s Legion team had such a big turnout that Post 75 is running two junior Legion teams this season … that’s both a blessing and a curse … it gives a lot of kids an opportunity to play, but a number of those kids will, because the senior roster is limited by National Rules to 18 players, have a long time to wait to get to play for the big team … and some may never make it. A large talent pool is great, but it also means there will be some disappointed kids ahead … just the way it is, ’cause the rules do not allow for one post to have two senior teams.
- The local Legion is still seeking ads for its Northeast Regional — Aug. 7-11 at Palmer Field — program book … it’s no secret the Legion was disappointed with the support shown by local businesses for its showcase event in 2013 … deadline for ads is July 25, the folks tell me.
- Congrats to Xavier’s Sean Carroll and Nick Roy, Middletown’s Jared Pflaumer, H-K’s Brian Moskey and Hale-Ray’s Jake Linares for their selection to the Connecticut Junior and Senior All-Star teams which took on Massachusetts Saturday at Palmer Field … the Connecticut seniors won their game 2-1 and the Mass. Juniors won theirs 7-3. Middletown High coach Jason Serra and Xavier coach Rich Magner coached the CT Juniors.