2016 Gridiron Hall of Fame Inductee reflects on return to hometown

To the Editor:

I was fortunate enough on Oct. 28 to make my first trip back to the new Joe Wiser football stadium in New Milford.

My family and I were impressed by many things.

First, Coach Larry Badaracco.

It all starts and ends with the head coach and he clearly has this program on the right course.

This is not only seen in the Green Wave’s quality performance on the field. It is clear in the character displayed by his players and the staff he has surrounded himself with.

The future is bright with Badaracco at the helm.

We were equally impressed by everyone from the Green Wave Gridiron Club.

Together their interest in connecting the current program with the past is something we truly appreciate.

“You don't know where you are going unless you know where you have been.”

Their efforts to enhance New Milford football are notable.

They made us all feel welcome and special, like we are still part of the New Milford football family.

It was great to catch up with the Cummings brothers, Norm and Art. To me they are New Milford sports.

From Saturday morning hoops to what was once The New Milford Times, they followed me, covered me and encouraged me all along the way.

I am one of many on whom they have made a lasting impression.

It was great to be in the stands with my parents, Lenny and Beth.

They were always there for me through everything and they continue to be there for me and my family now.

My wife, Sarah, and our sons, Logan and Jake, made the trip as well. They came into my life long after the glory days but believe me they have had to re-live plenty of it.

I ran into many teammates and friends from my time at NMHS, and even a couple of coaches.

We shared stories of our younger days and just as many stories about our own children.

Football for me was instrumental in so many ways … beyond the joys of playing.

Through it I became close with people I otherwise might not have had that much in common with.

It is surprising to me how many we have lost already from our small football family. Rich Valente, fellow captain Phil Bordinger, Tim Brooks, who was the older brother to our other captain Neil, Pryce Brodeur, Scott Duncan and John Nduku.

I may be missing even others.

The lessons we learned on the practice field, in weight rooms, at team meetings and on game day are with me still.

What most people see on game day is just the final product, it's a small piece of what it all means.

So much of what it’s all about happens when no one is watching.

My kids are now high school and college aged.

I see what is important to them and I know how much goes in to supporting their interests.

What is going on with New Milford football helps me feel like something I valued so much is just as important now as it was to me then.

Thank you so much for allowing me that.

Jack Lavalette

NMHS Class of 1987

2016 Gridiron Hall of Fame Inductee

South Glastonbury