• DOCUMENT: Tony Falzarano's
Resignation Letter (4/24/14)
Nope. Not the style of Tony Falzarano
It's a style that I will miss.
On Friday, I received the phone call that I expected since the high school boys basketball season ended.
It was Tony
on the other end of the line, telling me that he
had submitted his
letter of resignation as Tourtellotte Memorial High School
boys basketball coach to the Thompson Board of Education
I expected him to tell me that his
new position as mayor of Putnam
was taking up too much of his
After all, he
talked to me numerous times during the season about how his
supposed part-time job certainly didn't feel like one.
ruled out that as the cause and he
also put the other "baloney" of personal or family reasons aside, ruling those out as possible motivators.
wanted to deliver a parting shot and he
did, saying he
decided to resign because of the current state of high school basketball in Eastern Connecticut.
It's an opinion that Tony
and I share and one that, unfortunately, falls upon the deaf ears of athletic directors and principals in the area.
Just this past week, the Eastern Connecticut Conference athletic directors once again endorsed the status quo, leaving the league's smaller programs at the mercy of the larger ones.
"I will miss some of the coaches, not all, but I won't miss the athletic directors," Falzarano
said on Friday.
"Some consider me a threat, 'Too honest Tony
,' but they won't admit what is happening.
"I struggled with it," Falzarano
"I love the gym, I love the locker room, I just like coaching."
It's why he
Falzarano spent 33 years as head coach at Putnam High School and racked up 535 wins, including a Class S state championship in 1986.
Page 2 of 3 - One of my best Falzarano memories happened the day after his
Clippers had beaten Portland, 60-58.
clearly had not slept the night before, his
eyes red from little or no sleep and "too many sarsaparillas" as he
liked to say.
was accompanied by former assistants Dave Vitale and Jim Bartolomei.
"I feel just like Moses," Falzarano
said at the time.
"I couldn't have done this without my staff."
It was typical Falzarano, always glib, even when only half awake.
also took Putnam
to state title games in 1995 and 2006.
Can't stay away
In 2004, he
was given a good reason to step aside when he
suffered a severe heart attack and was unable to coach.
"I died a thousand deaths when I couldn't coach because of the heart attack," Falzarano
"Even though I wasn't supposed to, I snuck out and watched some games."
The end of the line came not because of his
health, but because of an administrator.
and then Putnam
High principal Bill Barry butted heads.
After several incidents, Falzarano
decided to resign in October 2007 when his
head basketball position was posted while he
was on a leave of absence from the school.
didn't stay on the sidelines for long, resurfacing in 2008 to take over the Tourtellotte High job, choosing to do so because the Thompson athletes were cut from the same blue-collar cloth that those at Putnam
I think I did that," Falzarano
Indeed, in six years as head coach, the Tigers posted a 74-60 record.
first season, he
took the Tigers to the second round of the Class S tournament.
In the 21 years prior, Tourtellotte
had only made the tournament once.
They haven't missed it since.
led them to their first ECC Small Division title in 2009-10 and added Small Division titles in each of the next three years.
was The Bulletin Coach of the Year in 2009-10.
Last season, the Connecticut High School Coaches Association
and New England Hall of Famer became just the third boys basketball head coach in state history to win 600 career games.
was later honored with a CIAC merit award.
It leaves him with only one honor he
should receive: a new court dedicated in his
name at Putnam
But all the while, Tony
, and if he
had something to say, everyone was going to hear it.
This season after a game at St. Bernard, he
publicly criticized the officials and was suspended by the school for one game.
Page 3 of 3 - Throughout his
tenure in the ECC, at both Putnam
and during his
time as a member of the CIAC
boys basketball committee, Falzarano
fought the good fight for Class S schools, seldom winning.
and I were on the same page when it came to splitting the ECC into regional alignments, which was rebuffed.
wanted to see the rebirth of the Quinebaug Valley Conference, which is unlikely.
couldn't even get the ECC to change the way it does its all-league teams in basketball.
It left him, he
says, in total frustration.
But don't think Falzarano
now has the bully pulpit of the Putnam
mayor's office, and while he
assistant, Neil Bernier, will be Tourtellotte's
coach next season, don't be shocked if one day I'm writing a new chapter of the Tony Falzarano story.
"The fire is still in me," Falzarano