By Paul Silverfarb
Sunday afternoon, the Greenwich High School football team met up at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich to cap off its championship season with a ring ceremony. Around 500 people from the community showed up to cheer on the Cardinals and see the shiny new hardware.
While picking up the rings and showing them off to the Greenwich community was a dream come true for head coach John Marinelli and everyone involved with the GHS football program, it wasn’t the best thing that happened that day.
“It meant more that our kids wanted to do something with the community to give back and celebrate the success of this past year with the Greenwich community,” Marinelli said. “Sometimes coaches can just hand the rings out, shake hands and be done with it. But for our senior class, they wanted to do something to say thank you to the community for all the support that we have had. It was their idea to put on a youth clinic. To see the young faces have the smiles at the youth clinic was actually more special than the ceremony itself.”
So before the Cardinals saw their rings, they saw the Greenwich youngsters that came out for the football clinic that took place. Members of the football team worked with kids from all over Greenwich and worked on skills during the clinic at the BGCG.
“The clinic meant more than the ring ceremony to me,” Marinelli said. “Giving back to the community and having a group of young men that understand the importance of giving back to the community and understand the importance of appreciation, humility and respect is amazing. As coaches, we try to teach those fundamentals every day. It’s not just about football. It’s about what it means to be a part of such a close-knit community and understanding what it means to give back. Their time is so meaningful to the youth of Greenwich. We had around 500 people there [Sunday] and I think the reason why is because of the way this team has given back and shown respect to the people that have supported them over the entire year and high school career.”
The Greenwich football team dominated the 2018 season en route to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL title. After an undefeated regular season that concluded with a 29-0 blitzing over rival Staples on Thanksgiving, Big Red crushed New Britain 49-13 and Newtown 50-0 before blanking FCIAC rivals New Canaan 34-0 in the state championship game.
And for Marinelli, seeing the Cards, along with captains Tysen Comizio, Gavin Muir, Charlie Ducret, Mozi Bici and Jack Feda pick up their rings was a nice event for the team and the community. But he stressed that it’s not about just winning championships at GHS.
Obviously bringing home a championship is always the goal for Big Red. However, Marinelli said he doesn’t lose sight over what’s really important, which are teaching life lessons and seeing how that can help the athletes in the future.
“I love being around the guys,” Marinelli said. “Sunday was a good opportunity to see the team and see how their bodies have developed. The 2019 guys have been in the weight room and already are putting in the hard work. The ring ceremony was a great event and obviously I am glad we had it. But for me, I do it because I like being around the kids and enjoy taking kids from point A to point B. Every child has a different roller coaster ride that is high school. So to see it go from start to finish and end with a ring is great and it’s a bonus.”
The ceremony officially caps off the 2018 championship season for Big Red. And in a few short days Greenwich will be back at Cardinal Stadium to begin the 2019 campaign, as they take part in spring practices. But for Marinelli, his coaching staff and a plethora of athletes, the season has already unofficially kicked off.
“December 8 happened and that was great,” Marinelli said. “We got the state championship. On December 9 we kind of lived in it and on December 10 we were right back looking at the upcoming 2019 season. As a coaching staff we didn’t take a lot of time to dwell on the championship. We were right back in the weight room and have been working hard on defending what is ours. We went right to helping these kids compete, and hopefully it shows in the season. We have a lot of work to do.
“Spring football starts next week and we are starting to get back on the field,” added Marinelli. “It’s where I feel like I belong. I don’t feel like I belong in an office or in the offseason. I want to be on the field coaching these young men. We are all excited to get the ball rolling again.”