Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas … These are among the states that have been practically synonymous with big time college basketball for decades. Oh, and then there’s our state, tucked away in the Northeast corner, where major league baseball and professional football, hockey, and basketball were more popular than college hoops for many years. But things have changed in the past decade-plus here in the Nutmeg state.
Newtown High School’s boys’ track and field team is led by a new coach as Tom Brant takes the lead role. Brant, who was involved with coaching the winter indoor track squad, has high hopes for improvement this spring based on what he saw during the winter campaign. That and the fact there is much more depth to this year’s lineup with the roster size increasing from 42 team members to 72. Last spring, the Nighthawks placed tenth in the South-West Conference meet and were 17th in the Class LL state championships.
Coach Doug Russell goes into his 11th season as head coach of the Newtown High School girls’ track and field team with the same goals he’s always had: To win the South-West Conference and finish among the top ten in the state at the Class LL championships.
After spending the last two seasons competing in the Legends cars ranks at Waterford Speedbowl, Newtown’s Stephen Kopcik will become the newest member of the 2014 SK Light Modified rookie class at Stafford Motor Speedway this spring. Kopcik and his team recently acquired a Chassis Dynamics car that was a backup car for Ryan Preece at Thompson Speedway, and he will have Mike Paquette from CD Chassis helping him out with his chassis setup.
Registration for the 26th Annual ShopRite Nutmeg State Games, to be held July 12-27 in New Britain, is available online. There are openings for 22 individual and team sport offerings at www.nutmegstategames.org.
The Newtown Youth Basketball Association offers summer basketball programs. Visit newtownyouthbasketball.com to register. There will be two leagues with a limit of 40 participants per league and the cost is $95 per participant.
Coming off consecutive seasons in which they captured South-West Conference championships, the Newtown High School girls’ tennis team will rely on a somewhat new group of players to stay at the top. The Nighthawks, who went 15-1 in the regular season before successfully defending its SWC crown, then reaching the state tournament’s semifinals, lost eight players from a year ago. Four graduated and two each were claimed through moves out of town and opting not to play.
Newtown High School’s golf team returns all of its top golfers from last year’s squad, and the Nighthawks are hoping their experience on the courses pays dividends this spring. The Nighthawks are led by captains Bubba LeBlanc and Vivek Tedla. Other top golfers back in the fold are Graham Hubbert, Josh Houle, and Colin Patrick.
Throughout the years, girls at Newtown High School have had the option to grab their clubs and hit the fairways and greens with the boys. For the first time, there’s a girls-only squad at NHS. It may be a club team, but it’s their own team, and Bill Flood, who will coach the golfers along with Jeremy O’Connell, is hopeful it’s the start of something big. Flood, who serves as vice president of the Connecticut Professional Golfers’ Association, and is slated to take over as president in the fall, notes that there is an initiative to grow the activity of golf in the state, especially with females. Some of the smaller towns in the South-West Conference have schools with girls’ programs, and Flood is excited that Newtown is joining the ranks.