People throughout the area who have enough years on them, remember Gerry Curcuru as a successful football and basketball coach. I remember the days of both well. For the purposes of todays article, I also remember him as a guy who told me, someday your sporting interests will change. You change as the years change.
Curcuru was my science teacher when I was a freshman. We talked sports every day, except… You see, despite the fact Curcuru grew up in New England, Gloucester, Massachusetts to be exact, he was a Yankee fan. How? I don’t really know and, he was a Cubs fan too. At least one of his teams had to wait longer than Red Sox fans to have their day in the sun.
So, I remember, Curcuru talking about change, but I really didn’t think the change would be that great.
When I entered adulthood, there were three events on my sporting calendar, that clearly stood above the rest. The Vermont State High School Basketball Tournament, the Vermont State Legion Baseball Tournament and anything Red Sox including the World Series, whether the Red Sox were in it or not. Those three were Prime Time big time and nothing, except possibly New Years Day came close.
Fast-forward and things have changed. Anything Red Sox has stood the test of time and the fact that is part of my main job description today helps, but the rest has changed. What Curcuru didn’t tell me back then, and I guess he didn’t need to, was that occupation and family has a big way of dictating time available for what you may want to do.
Today, the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the Super Bowl, have found their way into my consciousness and time availability to have replaced the high school hoop tournament and the legion tournament as glorified events, I cannot possibly miss.
But…that does not mean, that I care any bit less about the Vermont State Basketball Tournament or the Vermont Legion Baseball Tournament. It just means basically, that because they have been out of sight, they have basically been out of mind.
Which brings me to my excitement this week. For the first time in a long time, I will be able to see more than one game in the state legion tourney. I would say, I have probably seen about five games in the last 25 years, when there were probably 20 years, I saw every game of this marquee event. I have been lucky enough to have been a part of the festivities as a print reporter, broadcaster and umpire and the enjoyment and excitement up close, watching teams advance and be crowned champions is really awe inspiring.
This week, my schedule will have me covering some games and I am likely to be able to catch a few beyond that, so it is likely I will see more games this time around, than I have seen in the last twenty years together. For area fans, it appears almost certain, BF will play at 2 p.m. on Saturday, the day the tourney opens at the Maxfield Complex on Route 5 in White River Junction. The tournament continues with a non-rain interrupted final slated for next Wednesday, July 26. Games begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with four games being held on that day with Post 37’s game, likely the third game of the day.
It was just three years ago, that BF’s Michael LaBeau was on the mound pitching for Post 37 with that summer’s tournament held in the Rutland area. As regular readers know, the former Terrier carved out quite a career for himself at Castleton University and then excelled in the New England Collegiate Baseball League as a Keene Swampbat.
LaBeau would have liked nothing better than to have returned to Keene this summer, but the NECBL does not showcase graduated seniors, thus, LaBeau took his talents to Alaska, where he is now in action and has done exactly what he did last summer, he has stood out in the famed Alaskan Collegiate League. He made the All-Star team again and hurled 2/3 of an inning in the Classic, having to then step aside to allow one more All-Star to get a chance. LaBeau has gone through his eight appearances, including the Star get together, having not given up a run and has again captured the closer role. LaBeau is hoping there will be another chance awaiting him somewhere, when his stint ends up in early August.
Circling back to Curcuru, who had many a day in the sunshine when he was here, probably the biggest being the day the Bellows Falls Terriers captured their greatest football championship of them all, the 1971 Vermont Division 1 crown with a 14-13 thrilling encounter with Montpelier.
Curcuru’s biggest sporting accomplishment however, may not be winning that title. He was smack in the middle of fathering the Connecticut River Valley Football League, which has proven to be possibly the biggest reason for BF football success over the years. As memory best serves me, Hal Bushway, Gerry Cray and Lee Brown were other founding fathers of the league, which is expected to celebrate its’ 50th anniversary on September 10 with some type of festivities.