STAMFORD — In this new analytics-driven sports world, success can be measured in a myriad of ways.
However, there are still times when what your eyes see is the best barometer.
The Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech Co-op squad ended its 2019 football season on Thanksgiving against Wilton.
The melding of the Crusaders and the Lightning wasn’t best exemplified by the standings.
The best window into the combination of athletes from two schools on opposite ends of Stamford came at the conclusion of last Wednesday’s practice at a Crusader football tradition started in 1990 called the burning of the cleats.
The ceremony is a homage to the contributions that Trinity Catholic and Wright Tech seniors made during this season and any previous seasons spent in the football program.
As the cleats turn to ashes after a job well done, the TC/WT coaches and players take turns thanking each other as a large family.
“This has been different than any other football team I’ve been around as a player or coach,” said TC/WT first-year head coach Thomas Broschardt. “They are together on the field. They hang out off the field. It is a special bond. They are a band of brothers.”
For the dozen Wright Tech players who made the daily commute up Newfield Ave. to Trinity Catholic’s Gaglio Field, this season wasn’t about the Co-op squad finishing (2-8).
It was about the opportunity to play football and be part of a historic program competing in the state’s most demanding league, the FCIAC.
“I was so disappointed my freshman year when I discovered Wright Tech didn’t have a football team,” said Wright Tech sophomore offensive/defensive lineman Jake Verduzco, whose freshman brother Eddie was also part of this Co-op squad. “When this chance came along, I wanted it so badly.”
“I had played middle school youth football with the Trailblazers. I was upset when I couldn’t pursue it when I came to Wright Tech,” WT sophomore offensive lineman Marvin Oliva said. “This season has been a chance to learn the game and have fun.”
What the influx of Wright Tech gridiron athletes has meant to this season is that TC/WT Co-op began with enough players to hold regular practices. It also means TC/WT had enough players left at the end to survive the usual football injury war of attrition.
“The athletic directors — Trinity Catholic’s Jack Kelly, Wright Tech’s Robert Kucharski — have collaborated well in the process,” said TC/WT head coach Broschardt. “The kids have been great in accepting each other.”
The Wright Tech players are cheered at their Scalzi Park campus and welcomed in the TC lockerroom.
“I have new teammates always helping my football IQ. And I have made life long friends off the field,” WT’s Jake Verduzco said. “It’s a great source of support.”
“The feeling of being part of this family is so good,” WT’s Oliva said. “Football is a life lesson. And now I can’t run out of brothers to talk to.”
“This season has been the best experience of my life,” Wright Tech junior defensive lineman Andric Peralta said. “I’ve learned so much football from the coaching staff. I’ve learned to do your job and never give up. It’s the best feeling in the world when you have 40 brothers who have your back at all times.”