WEST HARTFORD >> Matt Vinick started out looking to tell the story of a successful football coach who was coming home. He’s now working on a bigger story about what have evolved into the first families of West Hartford football.
Vinick is currently putting the finishing touches on a documentary that will chronicle the Conard-Hall football rivalry as well as the coaches and players that make it special, in particular the Cersosimo and Robinson line of coaches.
A 1992 graduate of Conard High School, Vinick played for Rob Cersosimo. He has worked in sports television for 15 years, including events such as the Tour de France and Navy football. He was looking for a project for a few years that he could work on while continuing his TV duties and eventually came back to one closer to home.
Vinick played for the recently retired Rob Cersosimo at Conard and knew Matt Cersosimo while growing up in town.
When Matt decided to leave his college coaching job at UConn to come back to West Hartford and assist his dad, Vinick had his new project.
“I had some sense that Matt would return to Conard down the road so I always thought about that being a good story,” Vinick said.
“Since I was looking for a project, this one made sense because it was interesting to me and reasonable that I could get it done with the connections I had.”
Vinick was playing golf last summer with some friends and a mutual friend, Matt Cersosimo, who was the fourth in the group. A casual football conversation about UConn’s prospects led to Vinick learning of Cersosimo’s plan on returning to Conard.
“I asked Matt how he thought UConn was going to be and he said I think they will look good, but I really don’t know because I am coming back to coach with my dad,” Vinick said. “I had never said anything about my idea for the story to Matt so we sat down and talked about it and he was into it and Coach Rob found it interesting.”
If you are going to tell the story of Conard football, you have to start with the coaching torch being passed down one family tree.
Matt’s grandfather, Bob McKee, was the first Conard coach and posted a record of 168-61 from 1957-1983. Rob Cersosimo, Matt’s dad and McKee’s son-in-law, retired after the 2013 season with a record of 186-113-3.
The coaching story over at Hall High is pretty similar as Frank Robinson coached the Warriors for 31 years through the 1987 season, going 201-92-9 while leading the Warriors to state title games in 1983, 1985 and 1986. His son Frank came to Hall as an assistant in 1997 and took over as head coach in 1999 and has guided Hall to the state playoffs in two of the past three seasons.
“As I got working on this I realized there was more to the story than I first thought,” Vinick said. “These two families are pretty much the first families of football in West Hartford. Part of what made this so great is that I can do something grander about the rivalry and the Hatfields and McCoys of West Hartford football.”
Vinick spent some time last fall shooting both teams and then focused on Hall-Conard week and the first ever meeting between the two schools under the lights. He also got some footage interviewing some players from over the years and is excited about the project.
“I still have to finish editing, but I got some great stuff,” Vinick said. “The idea is to do something around Christmas and we will see what works for the two schools.”