NAUGATUCK — Find an athletic director in the Naugatuck Valley League who has more on his plate than Naugatuck AD Tom Pompei. Can’t do it? That’s probably because nobody else does.
Not only is Pompei responsible for one of league’s largest athletic programs, but he is also in his first year as president of the NVL. Plus, he’ll be heavily involved in the athletic side of the extensive Naugatuck High renovation.
Hey, somebody has to do it. And Pompei isn’t complaining one bit.
Pompei is particularly looking forward to helping plan the athletic parts of the high school renovation, which will include the sports fields, gymnasiums, swimming pool, and locker rooms.
“I met today with our district, which finally selected the architects,” Pompei said Tuesday. “Kaestle Boos has been with us from the get-go. They did all the initial work for the referendum. I met with the head man today and he gave me the timeline, where he sees things going.”
Pompei said there will be a number of challenges involved with the renovation because it will interfere with two or three school years.
“Because it’s from 30- to 36-month project, we’re bound to the school schedule,” Pompei said. “We really have to plan everything well. The renovations on the building will be going on while school is in session. Anything that happens to the basketball court, the swimming pool, and both major fields, that will all be happening while things are going on. It’s going to take careful planning and patience.”
Pompei said the district and Kaestle Boos have been very open to his input and is looking forward to working with them.
“The thing that’s so exciting for me as an administrator is that the company is really interested in talking with guys like me,” Pompei said. “Practically speaking, they’ve been great for us. Every step of the way, they’ve listened to what we want. They’ve allowed me to be very hands-on. It’s been a pie in the sky thing for so long, it’s exciting to get something in concrete.”
The Naugatuck High renovation is only one item on Pompei’s agenda. In his first year as president of the NVL, he has had to deal with several challenges, none more difficult than the constant rescheduling of the league tournaments after October’s snowstorm.
The athletic directors met several days in a row and constantly changed the schedule due to power outages throughout the Valley and trying to fit in games before state tournaments.
“That’s been the most trying part of my presidency so far, but that was everyone’s battle,” Pompei said. “I’m pretty lucky. I have a great group of guys. My vice president, Jerry (Ciarlegio, Holy Cross athletic director), is such a great guy to work with. He remembers stuff before I even ask.”
He is also helping the league go through a transition as longtime Wolcott Athletic Director Joe Monroe leaves his post to become his school’s principal.
“The most important role on the executive board is really the treasurer, and that’s been Joe Monroe for years,” Pompei said. “And as he became principal of Wolcott, we’re transitioning the treasury and the money stuff. That’s my main goal right now as Dane Street from Watertown takes over.”
Recent rumors have also connected Oxford High to the NVL. So far Pompei said Oxford has not reached out in any way to the league, and the Oxford Board of Education has not yet discussed the issue. Pompei isn’t sure how the league would handle another expansion proposal.
“I don’t know if we’d be open to it,” Pompei said of the league, which last expanded in 2009 with the additions of Derby and St. Paul. “I think we’d listen to any proposal from any program that we respect and that geographically and demographically would make sense.”
An exciting development with regard to football is in the works, too. When football schedules increase to 11-game schedules over the next two seasons, the NVL will have to decide how to fill that extra week. Right now, the league allows for each team to play one nonconference game per season.
Pompei said the league has not yet decided whether to add another league game or another nonconference game, but there is a deal in the works between the NVL and the South-West Conference that would pair up the 14-team leagues for inter-conference matchups in the next two seasons.
“We are pursuing a marriage with the SWC,” Pompei said. “That would be by power schedules and would be a two-year commitment. For example, Ansonia would play Masuk next year and Pomperaug the year after. We’re pretty excited about that. We think that we match up pretty well with that league. It would create a nice little rivalry and I think they are games that people would be excited about.”
The SWC includes Oxford, Masuk, Pomperaug, Newtown, Bethel, Brookfield, Bunnell, Stratford, and six other schools, matching up perfectly with the 14 teams of the NVL. Still, nothing is yet set in stone as the leagues and coaches mull over the possibility.
“The coaches have on many occasions said they’re concerned about playing too many games, given the nature of the sport,” Pompei said. “We want to be open to their concerns. But there has been conversation between the leagues and they’re pretty excited about it, too. The two-year change makes this an attractive option.”