Friday, March 25, 2016

My memories of legendary Waterbury basketball coach Ed Generali

I remember the first time I saw a Torrington-Holy Cross boys basketball game. It was cold winter night, but it was hot inside the Connie Donahue Gymnasium at Torrington High School. My dad and I were there for the game, and the place was buzzing as the Crusaders came in with a solid team led by Mark Konecny, a 6-foot-10 center being recruited by Division I schools.
What stuck out to me, however, was Ed Generali. The Holy Cross head coach was dressed in an impeccable suit, but also wore a beard on his face. Thinking about it now, I think it represents the different sides of Generali. The suit is the smooth operator and charmer (not a slight by any means, Ed is a great guy!), the beard represents the tough, competitive, passionate coach who wants to win as much as anyone.
Generali could schmooze a referee, or he could ride one until he was issued a technical foul. Generali coached hard, and he got his Holy Cross teams to play hard. His players responded to him. His 2006 state runner-up wasn't as talented as the Torrington juggernaut that beat it, but those players would have run through a brick wall for him.
In a story by Joe Palladino of the Waterbury Republican-American on "The Zone", Generali, 65, said it's time for him to retire. He takes with him 638 victories, 13 NVL championships, and three state titles, according to Palladino's story. He coached at both Sacred Heart and Holy Cross, and was successful at both schools. Generali also coached the girls for a time at Holy Cross.
Until Tony Turina hung up his coach's whistle at Torrington, I hadn't interacted with Generali. When I was tasked with writing a story on Turina at The Register Citizen, from the perspective of opposing coaches, one of the people I contacted was Generali.
There couldn't have been a nicer human being talking to me on the other end of the phone that night.
When I was starting this blog, I wanted to get out and cover as many different teams as I could. I ended up seeing two of the Holy Cross boys games, and I'm glad I did. Generali was gracious in defeat when Holy Cross was hammered by Sacred Heart -- who wasn't in the state of Connecticut this season? -- and he was just as gracious when his team blew away Wamogo in the first round of the Class S state tournament.
When I wanted to write a preview for the state semifinal game against Immaculate, Generali responded to an email the next day with great stuff about what his team had to do in that game. He was also passionate about how far his team had come after missing the postseason for two straight years in 2013 and 2014.
I do this blog because I want to. I am not getting paid to do this, yet Generali still took time out of his day to respond to me. It was something that I greatly appreciated.
Generali didn't go out a state champion, but he's still a winner on and off the court. Good luck Coach, and enjoy retirement!

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