NBA players have 192 days in their off-season. The NFL has 242. These are days, weeks, and months of rest and recovery that many athletes need to perform their best.
Yet for many high school athletes, this is not the case.
These athletes don’t have any days off. They don’t get these precious weeks of rejuvenation between seasons. If they want to reach their dreams and aspirations in multiple sports, these athletes are asked, required, to not lift their foot off the gas until they look up and a new year is beginning.
New Canaan’s Chris Falsetta told a stadium full of community friends and supporters Sunday morning that his then 12-year-old daughter, Gracie, was diagnosed with leukemia almost exactly one year ago, on Oct. 13, 2022.
Since that time, many people have approached Falsetta and asked how the past year has been, he said. “And I say, ‘It’s been incredible,’ and I usually get puzzled looks,” Falsetta said from midfield at Dunning Stadium under sunny, warm skies minutes before the 2023 N.C. Combine began. “ ‘What do you mean incredible?’ Well, it’s been incredibly tough, right? You know that.
Bob VanDerheyden started out calling Rams basketball games as a New Canaan High School sophomore. The son of the sports director at WSTC-AM in Stamford, he’d always been around radio and loved it.
“I did a lot of things with dad, going around the Little League games and high school football games,” the 1960 NCHS graduate recalled on an afternoon this week from his home outside Scranton, Pa. “And it occurred to me that I’ll do the PA [public address] at the basketball game. So I did a couple of basketball games. And [NCHS Football Coach] Joe Sikorski thought that was pretty neat.
New Canaan High School on Monday recognized more than one dozen seniors who will play Division 3 sports in college starting next year.
NCHS Athletic Director Jay Egan said the school’s annual ceremony is a way to mark and celebrate an achievement for the student-athletes as well as their families, asking those in attendance to recognize the parents who “make this all possible.”
“A lot of car rides and check-writing,” he told those gathered in the Wagner Room at NCHS for the short ceremony, including the student-athletes, their families, close friends and coaches. Egan also reviewed some statistics regarding Division 3, which came into being 50 years ago, saying it makes up 40% of the total NCAA membership. “Division 3 members provide a well-rounded collegiate experience that involves a balance of rigorous academics, competitive athletics and the opportunity to pursue the multitude of other co-curricular and extracurricular activities offered,” he said. We asked the student-athletes why they chose their future schools, and put their responses next to photos where provided (students not present include Ben Maden):
“I wanted to go there, regardless of whether I was going to be able to swim or not. So I reached out to the coach about a year ago.
Jay Egan, New Canaan High School’s athletic director, was about 15 years old when he first got to know fellow Stamford native Bo Hickey. Ten years his senior, Hickey had been a standout multi-sport athlete at Stamford Catholic High School—earning all-county and all-state honors in football his senior year—who would go on to become the starting running back at the University of Maryland and played in the NFL. Hickey was “a larger-than-life sports guy,” Egan recalled. In those days, there weren’t many weight training facilities around, and the only place you could go locally was the Stamford Y, Egan said. One day, after his parents dropped him off—Egan and his pals weren’t yet old enough to drive—the group went to an old-fashioned leg press machine in the corner of the facility.