On Friday, Dec. 21 the Benchwarmers made a surprise dedication of this year’s basketball game program to their own president, a long-life Durham resident and former Coginchaug High School athlete.
The Benchwarmers are a group of parents and community members who for years have created and distributed Regional School District 13’s annual basketball season program, with community-based ads, shout-outs, the season schedule and profiles of the athletes.
Every year, the group dedicates the program to a team, person, coach, sometimes in remembrance of someone. This year that person is Henry Bugai, Jr., who had no idea he was to be honored.
“A lot of great people we’ve dedicated the program to … a lot of great members, so it’s an honor,” Bugai said afterward.
Bugai has been president of the group for five years and a member for about six. He ran cross country and played varsity basketball for Wally Camp and Todd Salva, and graduated in 1991. He has since coached Little League, recreation basketball and travel basketball in town.
“It’s been 28 years and I can still hear the crowd cheering for Henry Bugai when he entered a game,” Salva stated in the program. “He had tremendous work ethic, was loyal to his teammates and always demonstrated superior sportsmanship and character. He played for the love of the game.”
Bugai is credited with helping to elevate the Benchwarmers’ work with new fundraisers, including the Basketball Alumni Game and dodgeball tournaments.
Annjeannette Bugai, the Benchwarmers secretary, said the group chose to dedicate the program this year to her husband because of all his hard work and dedication to RSD13. “He gives back a lot and people recognize and appreciate it,” she said.
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