Thoughts on UConn Huskies, Taylor Swift and J. Geils Band

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I just thought I’d empty my reporter’s notebook watching the Bruins night after night call themselves Stanley Cup contenders…

It’s time for the state tournament. It’s time to fuel up and follow our school soccer, field hockey or volleyball teams, boys and girls, all hoping and dreaming of making it to the championship weekend on the 19th and November 20.

The Griswold women’s volleyball team is the top seed in the CIAC Class S tournament. The Wolverines, who went 20-0 during the regular season, will be looking to bounce back from an ECC Tournament semi-final loss to Fitch.

It’s amazing how many volleyball teams I’ve seen over the years lose in their conference tournament and then have a great run in the States.

Griswold has what it takes to make the finals at East Haven High School on Nov. 19. Wolverines host the Plainfield/Windham winner and then have a potential quarter-final clash against defending champion Lyman Memorial.

East Hampton and Holy Cross loom in the semi-finals, while Hale Ray and Coventry sit on the other side of the table as teams who could be Wolverines’ opponents in the final.

The Norwich Free Academy men’s football team have been rewarded for their terrific season with a home game. The No. 14 Wildcats will host the No. 19 New Canaan on Monday in a Class LL first-round contest. It’s been a long road trip for the Rams. The winner meets No. 3 Norwalk or No. 30 Southington in the second round.

The Norwich Free Academy women’s football team travel to Simsbury on Tuesday evening. The winner then travels to No 4 Ridgefield on Thursday for a Class LL second-round battle.

And congratulations to the Killingly field hockey team, who qualified for the Mr. Class Tournament. Killingly (7-8-0-1) travels to Groton on Tuesday for a first-round match against Fitch (12- 3-0-1). The Falcons beat Killingly twice during the regular season.

We wish all our teams good luck this week.

Newest inductee into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame

Phil Rondeau, whose career spanned 26 years and included 10 track championships and 152 wins, was recently inducted into the New England Auto Racing (NEAR) Hall of Fame. The ceremonies were held at the Regency Inn & Conference Center in Westford, Massachusetts.

Rondeau, of Sprague, is the fourth inductee into the Hall of Fame from the Norwich area. Others include Art Barry (2009) from Preston, Bob Potter (2007) from Norwich and Don Collins (2005) from Willimantic.

“Receiving an honor like this is humbling,” Rondeau told former Hearst sportswriter Peter Vander Veer. “I know I’m part of a very prestigious group of racers, mechanics, race owners and promoters who have made racing in New England what it is today.”

Vander Veer noted that Rondeau’s combined 107 wins (in SK Modifieds, Late Models and Street Stocks) ranks him second all-time in wins at the Waterford Speedbowl, where he has won six of his 10 track championships. Additionally, he is the only driver at Waterford to have won 100 features in a single division (Late Model).

Rondeau won both the 1987 Tri-Track Championship (involving season-long races at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford) and the 1988 Dual Track title when events were held at Stafford and Thompson. His biggest win came in 1989 when he won the 50-lap Street Stock race in the Race of Champions at Pocono International Raceway in 1989.

In 2000 and 2001, Rondeau competed nationally on the Hooters Pro Cup circuit, finishing fifth in points in the Northeast Division in 2000.

Since retiring as an active driver after the 2009 season, Rondeau has remained involved in the sport as a car builder and owner and serves as Vice President of the Tri-State Go-Kart Club in Pomfret.

Rondeau was joined in the 25th class of the NEAR Hall of Fame by Matt Buckler, Ken Tremont Jr., Dick Houlihan, Russ Stoehr and Nate Chiavettone.

Could the UConn Huskies be ‘bowl eligible’?

How about those UConn Huskies? Jim Mora’s gang of believers knocked out my beloved Boston College Eagles for the first time EVAH last week. I knew Mora was going to turn things around. He’s a fantastic coach. Heck, he took the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC Championship Game. But I didn’t think the words “bowl eligible” would be heard at Storrs this fall.

As for the fallen Eagles? I went to games in Chestnut Hill with my dad and uncle Jim, both BC grads and longtime season ticket holders, before I could strap on my Converse All Star sneakers and maybe that’s the worst Eagles team I’ve seen and I’ve seen bad ones. In 1978 the Eagles went 0-11 under Ed Chlebek, losing games to Villanova, UMass, Holy Cross and Temple.

Follow Taylor Swift across the country

The incomparable Taylor Swift will be touring huge football stadiums across the country from March. My daughter Anya handed me a sheet of paper with all the places she would like to see Miss Swift. Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. What? GLENDALE, Ariz.? She informed me that Glendale is the tour’s opening show on March 18 and that her brother’s Wesleyan baseball team will be playing in Tucson that day. Tucson to Glendale is about two hours away. She said it was meant to be. I need to call my financial advisor.

In memory of the J. Geils Band house party

STRANDED IN THE 70S: On this day – November 6, 1973 – Boston’s mighty J. Geils Band performed at the New Haven Coliseum. J. Geils’ house party at this legendary but now defunct venue was during their “Ladies Invited” tour. The band’s fourth studio album, which included the songs “The Lady Makes Demands” and “Chimes,” only reached No. 51 on the US Billboard charts. Here are some rock n’ roll trivia: The work is said to have been actress Faye Dunaway, who married singer Peter Wolf the following year.

jimmy zanor

Jimmy Zanor can be reached at norwichbulletin.com.

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