MERIDEN — We always figured we’d nominate Howie Hewitt for Coach of the Year sooner or later.
The veteran Maloney coach is a household name for a checkered career not only in boys basketball, but baseball.
So, here in Year 5 of the Record-Journal’s “Best of the Bunch,” Howie gets his due. He is a finalist for Coach of the Year.
We just didn’t figure it would be at another school and in another sport.
In one of the more interesting stories of the 2019-20 school year, Hewitt launched a second career coaching girls basketball in Southington.
Combined with the assistant softball coaching he does in the spring at Maloney with Scott Aresco, it’s a neat renaissance period for Hewitt, who coached the Spartans in basketball for 33 years and in baseball for 23.
His new squad did quite well this winter. Playing the same sort of uptempo offense and pressure defense for which Hewitt’s boys teams were known at Maloney, the Lady Knights bolted to the top of the Class LL state playoff rankings by winning 13 of their first 14 games.
Then came season-ending injuries to two of Southington’s leading lights, juniors Kelley Marshall and Allison Carr, and that derailed the ride, at least for Year 1. With virtually the entire team coming back, Year 2 brims with promise.
So let the count start for “Hewitt, Phase III.” He’s 457-285 in boys basketball, 286-228 in baseball and 16-7 in girls basketball. Howie, being a retired math teacher, can tell at a glance that’s 759 career wins.
Hewitt’s rivals for Coach of the Year? Two veterans from Sheehan.
One is veteran with a capital V, and that’s Charles Farley, the track and field coach whose career dates back to 1965. Charlie, being a retired math teacher, can tell without looking that’s 55 years of coaching.
Our second finalist from Sheehan, John Ferrazzi, is starting to put long years on the resume, too. Seems like just yesterday that Ferrazzi, a Waterbury native, arrived from Springfield College and joined Sheehan as a physical education teacher and an assistant football coach.
Head man for the past 15 years, Ferrazzi is now the second-longest tenured football coach in the Southern Connecticut Conference.
He is also the reigning Connecticut High School Coaches Association Football Coach of the Year after this team won the 2019 Class S state championship.
Ferrazzi, 80-77-2 for his career, was also a finalist for the Walter Camp Foundation's Connecticut Football Coach of the Year. As you read yesterday, his Titans are finalists for R-J Team of the Year.
Fun fact: Ferrazzi is actually a Farley successor. While Farley is synonymous with track, he served as Sheehan’s first football coach when the school opened in 1971.
By 1973, he was also coaching boys track. By 1985, he added girls track to the plate.
By then, Farley, a native of Erie, Pa., had been in Wallingford for 20 years, having started at Lyman Hall in 1965 and a family with his wife Carol.
This past year, in his 55th year of coaching, Farley lined up the ducks just right and won the SCC Championship with his girls indoor team.
It was his first title with the girls. Farley’s boys teams won Class S indoor state titles in 2000 and 2002 and the Class M outdoor crown in 2014.
He’s had individual athletes win Connecticut and New England championships. He’s seen athletes go on to compete in college track at all levels.
All that’s really lacking, if you want to be picky, is a girls state title.
Well, Charlie, you’d better add it to the list.
The Record-Journal “Best of the Bunch” awards video airs this Thursday, June 18 on Facebook at 6:30 p.m. and will be on myrecordjournal.com after that. The R-J is giving away an iPad Mini to one person who watches the event live on Facebook. Enter at myrecordjournal.com/ipad. Up next: Overall Female Athlete of the Year.