Editor’s note: This article appears in the Citizen’s News’ special Thanksgiving football section published the week of Nov. 29, 2013.
I became the head chef at our family’s Christmas Eve celebration last year (and can you believe this guy is single?!) and things went absolutely swimmingly. The best part, since I invaded my grandma’s kitchen to wield the oven mitts, is that I didn’t have to worry about storing leftovers.
They’re a real Jekyll-and-Hyde situation, aren’t those leftovers? Most of the time they’re pretty delicious and can be consumed in any quantity at any time of day, but after holidays there are just so many! There’s just no space!
Lucky, our Thanksgiving leftovers here at Citizen’s News don’t take up any room in your refrigerator — we prefer they be hung ON your refrigerator! (Besides, we, unlike revenge, are best served tepid.)
This special section is our favorite thing to do every year, so we want to squeeze every last drop out of it. For the second season, we are proud to present our Thanksgiving Leftovers. Happy Thanksgiving!
Get the ‘H’ Out!
You probably wouldn’t believe the trouble we have around here in keeping hundreds of local athletes’ names right. It’s important to us, but it’s not always easy.
Why is it so tough? Because we can trust NOBODY when it comes to proper spelling of these kids’ names except for the kids themselves. Rosters? Nope. They’re always good for misleading us and making us look like fools in our stories.
Take for the example the case of a 6-foot-5 wide receiver from Naugatuck. His name is not Ryan, and his name is not Griesenhauer.
His name is Ryne Griesenauer.
“No ‘h,’” Griesenauer says. “Sometimes they get it wrong and sometimes they don’t. It’s just a mess.”
There is an “h” in his name on Naugatuck’s roster, yet there’s no “h” on his jersey nameplate. This is why we’re taught to take NOTHING at face value.
Anyway, it was a good thing I’ve known about Griesenauer since his Pop Warner football days, before he became a 1,000-yard wide receiver. I’m probably the only media member in the entire state to spell his name right every time. For those who keep screwing up, it’s a wee bit exasperating for the Greyhounds’ leading wideout.
“Last year I wasn’t the main part of the offense, so when my name was spelled wrong in the paper it was like, ‘Wow, I’m in the paper!’” Griesenauer says. “This year it’s like, ‘You’re still getting it wrong?’ But it’s not a big deal.”
At least Ryno — sweet nickname, yeah? — has a good attitude about it all.
“It’s the name on the front that matters more than the name on the back,” Griesenauer says.
Give that man another touchdown!
I made a presentation about my job to a few classes at Woodland earlier this month. One of the thoughts I found myself repeating to the couple dozen students was that this profession is more about art than science.
A big part of the job, especially locally, is developing good relationships with the figures we cover. I’ve got pretty good ones with our two head football coaches. Want to know how I know that?
The football coaches’ wives are card-carrying members of the Kyle Brennan Fan Club.
Oh, yeah, that’s right. Once you’ve got their wives on your side, you’re good to go.
Woodland coach Tim Shea tied the knot last year. Mrs. Coach Shea can usually be seen waiting on the sidelines after games are over. She’s a great supporter of the Hawks, and we share a common love (not Tim). She’s a big Quinnipiac hockey fan!
Her company designed the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, so she’s a regular attendee of games. I, of course, an am alumnus of the fine educational institution and am thrilled to share a hockey team. She’s even helped Tim become a fan. I like Mrs. Coach Shea, and Mrs. Coach Shea likes me.
Naugatuck, of course, has a new head coach this year in Craig Bruno. I spent the first part of 2013 getting to know Bruno and building up a professional relationship with the coach I hope is around here for many years. You never know what a big-time football coach will think of the local media guys.
About midway through the season, Craig told me how much Mrs. Coach Bruno enjoys reading my Naugatuck Valley League Football Blog and all my local publications (she even asked for copies of this fall’s edition of our paper because Citizen’s News isn’t available in their hometown of Oxford). I’m glad to have her on my side in such a quick time frame.
Just as Lyndon B. Johnson knew he had lost his presidency when Walter Cronkite turned his opinion against the Vietnam War, I know I’ve won over the leaders of our football programs when their wives are on board with me.
All-Time (Statistical) Greats
When Tanner Kingsley concludes his career as Woodland’s quarterback sometime in the next few weeks, he will have finished as one of the greatest quarterbacks, statistically speaking, in the history of Connecticut high school football.
Kingsley, entering Thanksgiving eve against Seymour, is third in state history for both passing yards (7,564) and touchdown passes (107). He’s second in NVL history in both of those categories, and he’s the school leader in every category there is. At 67 percent, Kingsley is also the most accurate passer in state history.
Up the river, Naugatuck’s Jason Bradley is playing at a level never seen in more than 110 years of Greyhounds football. Heading into Thanksgiving against Ansonia, Bradley already has school records with 2,470 yards and 34 touchdowns. In in second season as a starter, he already has nearly 4,000 yards and 60 touchdowns. He’s got one season left!
By George, We Miss You
I haven’t felt more honor or more pressure in writing a story than the one that graced our opening spread in this very special Thanksgiving section.
I wanted to make sure that I kept myself out of that feature because the emotions and the actions of those involved told the story much better than I ever could have hoped to do. But there’s no doubt that it was an emotional one to write.
George Pinho was a special man. Those who didn’t know him may think it’s all an exaggeration, but it really isn’t. His endless involvement in youth sports tells some of the story; the undoubted quality of his sons tells most of it.
When his boys say that George treated all the players like sons, it’s true. George treated everyone like a son and a friend. It’s a quality missing from many today, and the Woodland community has done an admirable job keeping alive his memory.
As I puzzled about the direction to go with his story, I sat back and imagined what George would say to me. I can’t print what his imaginary response was, but it put a smile on my face. I went ahead and wrote something of which I’m proud.
I know that’s what keeps Jack and Jake going every day.