By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – When deciding on the Bristol Observer Male Athlete of the Year for 2012-13, choosing just one athlete was nearly impossible.
Because in this search for that one perfect individual, two world class athletes – and individuals for that matter – came up and must be held accounted for.
So this year, just like 2010 in the case of Co-Athletes of the Year in Bristol Central’s Craig Lejeune and St. Paul’s Byron Jones, there will be two co-athletes of the year this time around as well.
And the Bristol Central/St. Paul formula holds true once again.
One selection ended up being Bristol Central’s Matt Blandino, the pitching ace who was drafted by the Reds this past year, but the other is another outstanding athlete from St. Paul.
His name is Kyle Dube and the selection was an easy one to make.
And if you want to talk about ability, poise, intensity, character and guts, Dube has all those abilities in abundance and has earned the nod of being one of Bristol’s finest.
And whether is was hitting a game winning three-pointer, like he did against Woodland this past season in a big one-point victory, making a steal and forcing a second overtime in the Falcons stunning win at Holy Cross or striking out some of the top players the Naugatuck Valley League had to offer, he seemingly did it all this past year.
“Kyle Dube is a very special player,” said St. Paul baseball coach Pat Holden. “He’s a special player on the basketball court. I know that (coach) Steve Phelps and his staff can’t say enough about him and quite frankly, I’m a little speechless because there are so many words to describe him.”
“He’s one of the reasons why St. Paul baseball is on the map.”
And while baseball might have been Dube’s best sport, he was one heck of a basketball player for the Falcons’ program.
The All-Academic All-State talent averaged a mean 17 points-per-game and certainly worked hard over the years to make himself into the outstanding basketball player his has become his senior campaign.
This year, the Falcons finished up at a very respectable 11-11.
“The thing I think that always impressed me about Kyle, even when he was young, was his willingness to do anything, to make any sacrifice to make his team better,” said St. Paul boys basketball coach Steve Phelps. “As he got older and he got stronger, he became more talented but those same attributes, those same characteristics that he had just became more pronounced and more intense as his high school career went on.”
As stated on other occasions, he’s a lot like former Boston Celtics’ star Reggie Lewis when it came to hardwood action.
Lewis wasn’t a big shouter or yeller on the hardwood and Dube wasn’t either but the St. Paul warrior always had his teammates’ ears and when he had something to say, they’d listen and respond in turn.
That also crosses over into the classroom for Dube.
“He’s a bit of a throwback but he’s also a modern guy,” said Phelps. “He’s a tremendous guy to have in the school community just to show and tell younger kids how it’s supposed to be done.”
Along with his 17 points a game, Dube snatched nearly seven rebounds-a-game while also scooping in 3.5 steals and nearly the same number of assists.
And even when St. Paul trailed by 17 in the fourth quarter of his final scholastic tourney against second seeded Classical Magnet in the second round of the Class S tournament, Dube helped his squad almost pull off a huge comeback but fell 71-64.
Whenever the Falcons played a game this season, Dube always gave his team a chance to pull out a victory.
“He’s always been driven by his willingness to succeed, and that desire to do and complete the things he’s coached to do,” said Phelps. “Some of the attributes and some of the characteristics that he has as a young man aren’t taught. It’s a family background.”
“It’s a commitment to his mom, his grandmother, to his grandfather before he passed, and he just constantly strives for success (and) that’s very apparent in the classroom.”
Moving on to baseball, Dube has been a major contributor since arriving at the Catholic school from Southington
In 2012, he was 6-1 on the mound and just this past season, he was still outstanding at 5-3 but was a bit snake-bitten because of a couple of close losses including a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat in the second round of the Class S tournament against East Hampton.
The record is certainly deceiving as his ERA was an amazing 1.87 in just over 48 innings of work as St. Paul was 17-6 this past season.
Dube yielded just 13 earned runs, struck out 47, while walking only 17, and opponents only batted .217 against him.
And the tougher the spot, the more impressive Dube was out on the hill.
“He’s a competitor,” said Holden. “He is always going to keep you in the game. Even if he’s not on his A-game, he’s still going to find a way to field his position…he’s going to find a way to get you a couple runs to put you in a position to win.”
“Stereotypical Kyle Dube.”
Two out of his three losses came against NVL champ Wolcott and two defeats were only by a single run.
Dube gave up just two runs or less in four of his wins while going the distance in four of his eight starts.
At the plate, he batted a blazing .429 at the plate with 33 hits, 20 runs scored, and 21 RBI.
Against Naugatuck, he went 4-of-4 from the plate and had four games of three or more hits.
In an 8-3 victory over Watertown, Dube was 3-of-4, drilled a home run, and ended the day with six RBI in a dominating performance.
With all his top level play – plus his performance in the classroom – the awards quickly came his way and those awards that came his way weren’t just fitting, but impressive.
Dube off his two outstanding scholastic sport seasons – plus his academic standing at St. Paul – all led to him being named the Naugatuck Valley League Male Athlete of the Year, which ended up the first time a Falcon was ever so named.
He was an All-Brass Division basketball player this year (he was also an honorable mention member of the Hartford Courant All-Star Basketball team) and did the same in baseball as an outstanding pitcher and shortstop.
Dube earned Academic All-State honors with a 3.8 grade point average, was one of the top students in his class (12th to be precise), and was also a four-year elected class president.
“When you cut through all that nonsense, kids – and I know his teammates – look up to him,” said Phelps. “It’s kind of corny a little bit in this day and age but he has a way of accepting that, he has a way of portraying that through his personality and not being arrogant and I think kids appreciate that about him.”
He was also named All-State by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association in hoop while the senior also made the Academic All-State team in Class S.
To top it all off, Dube will attend Fairfield University to play baseball for its Division I program and will pursue a degree in engineering.
Simply put, he’s smart on the field, smart off of it.
Any college or university would welcome a young man with the drive, motivation and the likability of Kyle Dube.
“He’s just a phenomenal kid,” said Holden. “St. Paul is what it is and is where it’s at – academically, athletically, and socially – because of Kyle Dube. He’s that important. You say Kyle Dube and St. Paul is right there associated with it. He is the type of kid this school will produce but I don’t know that he himself could ever be duplicated.”
“He’s that good.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE