By MICHAEL LETENDRE
The new Bristol Boys and Girls club is a beautiful beacon of the Mum City, certainly a pillar of the community.
And with such a building, one local coach wants to start up some sport clinics – the type that Bristol Central baseball coach Bunty Ray enjoyed while growing up in town.
Recently, Ray has been holding clinics at the gymnasium from the club and understands the importance of them for, not only up-and-coming athletes, but the community as a whole well.
“Our goal here is to, one, get the kids enthused about baseball. Two, showcase this great facility that we just built,” said Ray.
Growing up in town, the Boy’s club of both Bristol and Forestville were places where Ray and his brother Jay were able to play in after school and weekend leagues, test their skills against the competition and learn from local mentors as well.
Now, it Ray’s turn to pass on his wisdom, his knowledge and his experience to the next generation of athletes.
But he doesn’t do it alone as Ray has a little help in the form of three world class coaches.
With the assistance of Bristol Eastern baseball coach Mike Giovinazzo, former Plainville high school coach Bob Freimuth and former Bristol Legion mentor Spec Monico.
“My goal is to get the best coaching I possibly can down here and give back,” said Ray. “I have three Hall of Fame coaches and that’s what you need to give the good instructions. All three [Bristol Little] leagues have representation down here and I was able to go down and talk to them and get some players in. And I think the way the program structured and with [coach Giovinazzo, coach Freimuth and coach Monico’s] instruction, it should hopefully manifest itself into bigger things for the club and community.”
All three are Bristol baseball icons and they’ve been joined by Eastern assistant coach John Benoit.
In game play, Benoit has been throwing to the players (though his curveball has much to be desired) and is certainly enjoying himself as well.
Players from both public high schools have also been coming to the clinics, getting a little practice time in as well.
Ray has been running his baseball clinics on Sunday’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and attendance has been impressive.
He’s also seen the “next generation of kids” attend his clinics including children of adults Ray competed with and against when he attended Bristol Eastern in the early 1990’s.
But it’s not going to stop at baseball as Ray has bigger plans in store was well for the other sports he coaches.
Later in the year, Ray wants to establish and indoor soccer and basketball programs as well.
Again, the clinics will be about both skills and play so young athletes will have a chance to participate in several programs.
Ray also wants to make this programs affordable and keep kids in the community, competing against neighbors and friends, instead of having them leave town, paying more in the process.
“We’re also going to be running basketball, soccer and baseball programs down here with the hopes of having one spot for kids of all different ages and abilities to come down and obviously get better,” said Ray. “In Bristol right now, we have so many directions kids go. Everybody talks about back in the day how there were a few place that we play and we were able to get more sense of community, more link between high school and the feeder programs and that’s what we’re looking for.”
“Steve Beecher and Jay Maia have done a great job promoting and getting things going [and] now it’s up to us to get it back to the way it was.”
Find out more information about these programs in next week’s edition of the Bristol Observer.