Honoring Scholar Athletes: They are from down the street and across the state. They are the best and brightest of us. And with high school sports at a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no better time than to make a big deal, a very big deal, of the 360 Connecticut seniors recognized Sunday as CAS-CIAC Scholar Athletes.
A male and female from each CIAC school, whose academic and athletic careers have been exemplary, whose personal standards and achievements are a model to others, have been selected each year since 1984. With COVID-19, the actual banquet could not be held this year. Still, there is a virtual banquet at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on Fox61 and GameTimeCT.com.
We’ll spotlight seven winners here. One’s older sister and mom won the award. One lives in my town. Another brought music when we needed it most. All 360 deserve our applause.
With his 14th sack in his last game for New Canaan, a state semifinal loss in the pouring rain to St. Joseph, Chris Carratu broke Zac Allen’s single-season school record.
Carruto is not your fly-under-the-radar scholar-athlete. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, with a 6-7 wingspan, a 4.0 GPA and 1550 SAT score, he played on one of the highest profile teams in the best football league in Connecticut. Football is important in New Canaan. This past week, for instance, there was a 300-car parade, complete with fire trucks, past the home of Lucas Niang after he was drafted in the third round out of TCU by the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Our town is relatively small, but when we have football games they are big events,” Carratu said. “The Turkey Bowl with Darien is crazy. And when there’s a big accomplishment like Lucas getting drafted, it’s a huge deal. We want to celebrate and show those guys some love.”
Allen went to the Arizona Cardinals from Boston College. Carratu is going to MIT to play football. That’s an interesting sentence isn’t it? MIT. Football. He had looked at a number of eclectic schools, including some of the Ivies.
“When I did my overnight at MIT, compared to some other schools I visited, it was an amazing experience,” Carratu said. “I really bonded with all the players. The combination of academics, athletics and social life set it apart from any other school. During the week, they are hard workers. On the weekends, they’re not just some nerdy kids. They’ll have their football games and have fun. On the football field and in classes, it’s very collaborative. It’s not cutthroat or back-stabbing. Every aspect at MIT, I loved.”
Carratu was raised “academics first” by his parents. His competitive side took over from there. In high school, he always wanted to be in the highest AP courses. His older brother David was the same way and he is graduating from Columbia this spring.
At this point, Carratu is looking at the economic or entrepreneurial business path. MIT has a joint entrepreneurship program with Harvard.
“Building something from scratch seems like a fun journey to me, a fun challenge to take on,” Carratu said. “When I was younger, I used to watch Shark Tank with my dad, and as I grew up, I really started to love the business concepts behind everything.”
Carratu, captain of the indoor track team, national merit scholarship finalist, played three sports all through high school. He was all FCIAC first-team in football. The FCIAC indoor meet was his last athletic event. The 2020 outdoor season? A dream.
“Sports is a huge part of my life,” he said. “I love having a team to go to after school. It feels like part of my life has been cut off. Not having friends around, that’s the biggest thing. I guess the seniors got hit the hardest. We’re making the best of it.
“This award is a really big deal for me. On the field we receive a lot of attention from our town and all the kids in our school, but a lot of people don’t notice the work that a lot of scholar-athletes put in the classroom.”