Former Naugy coach Raczkowski earns win No. 400

0
460

BY KEN MORSE

CITIZEN’S NEWS
When Naugatuck girls basketball head coach Keith Raczkowski set down his clipboard and walked away from the Xs and Os of coaching in 2006, there was not a thought in his mind of ever picking up that clipboard again.
Ten years later, at a baseball game that Raczkowski was umpiring, the door to coaching was opened again.
“In 2016, we moved up to South Windsor to be closer to the grandchildren,” said Raczkowski. “I was umpiring back then and got into a conversation with a friend who told me that South Windsor was looking for a girls basketball coach. Not that I was looking to get back in the game, but they had been without a coach and I was going to fill in until they found another one.”
By the looks of it, South Windsor found another coach, and his name is Keith Raczkowski. The one year to fill in has turned into a six-year stint with the Bobcats. Coach Raz certainly knows his way around the hardwood, having coached Naugatuck for 21 seasons, compiling 351 victories and seven NVL championships, including six in a row from 1989-1995. Naugy won an incredible 105 NVL games in a row, a feat that has not been topped since.
“My first year back my daughter Jamie was my assistant,” said Raczkowski. “But she had to take care of the kids and had other obligations so she is no longer coaching with me. Now she is coaching her daughter and her second grade team so they are having fun and making some great memories. Jamie was part of the last NVL championship team I coached, so it was nice to be back on the court with her. Now I’m doing double duty as the freshman volleyball coach and I love it. It doesn’t have the same responsibilities as a head coach. It’s a big commitment being head coach. I’m really having fun, enjoying myself doing that.”
South Windsor defeated Tolland, 61-50, on Feb. 5 to hand coach Raz his 400th career win.
There are 12 girls basketball coaches in Connecticut that have over 400 wins, so coach Raz is in good company.
“I don’t know how long I will do this,” said Raczkowski. “I guarantee you it won’t be as long as I did it in Naugatuck. I would like to see my grandchildren play sports in high school, but that’s a few years away.
“It was a nice night with my family and the four grandchildren there to see the 400th win. It was kind of a surprise to me because Jamie keeps track of all the records and stuff like that.”
The Bobcats won 12 games last season, qualifying for the CCC tournament for the first time since coach Raz has been at South Windsor. This year’s team is back in the states with an 8-12 mark.
“The game has changed a bit with the AAU programs. Back in the day you use to be able to stay together as team and play in summer leagues and go away to camp together. Now they go off with different travel teams,” said Raczkowski. “To be honest it’s never really been about the wins and losses. Over the years even the players forget some of the wins and losses. It’s more about enjoying the experience. Making memories that last a lifetime. The bus rides with the kids and the times in the locker room together as a team. These are moments you will always remember.”
Raczkowski said you don’t remember the wins and losses. Instead, you remember the friendships you’ve made and the relationships that you’ve maintained.
“It’s not like a class in school that they have to be there, they chose to be there on the team practicing and working hard together for the same goal,” said Raczkowski. “That’s what makes what we do so special. They want to be part of it and not everyone is going on to play college basketball, so this is special to them to be part of this and part of a team.”