A year ago, it was nothing but an idea.
Something that popped in my head one day as I pondered my post-journalism future.
Nine days later, I clicked “publish” and went live with this website.
The Stratford Sports Scene was born.
I want to begin by thanking the town’s athletic directors—Wayne Thrall at Bunnell and Tony DeAngelo at Stratford.
I showed up on their doorsteps about a week before the annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry game between the Bulldogs and Red Devils and explained what I was trying to do.
I had been working for Hearst Connecticut Media, but based out of Norwalk so neither athletic director knew me or what I was about, or my history in the business.
I’m sure they took me with a big ol’ grain of salt—some local yocal wanting to start his own website.
Both also knew, though, that their athletes would be starving for coverage since “The Stratford Star” was unceremoniously closed down and the Connecticut Post had sliced its staff so deeply that neighboring Stratford would become an afterthought.
I have to be honest. That was my thinking.
I had lived in Stratford 12 years, but I knew little to nothing about the sports world of the town I had come to call home.
Starting this website was a way to give back.
I took X-amount of my own dollars and got things off the ground, thinking that the town’s businesses would be more than happy to support such a project.
I wasn’t looking to get to get rich off this endeavor, but I thought it could sustain itself and make enough money to use some freelancers to cover the games I wouldn’t be able to make it to.
After all, this is a side gig for me outside of my full-time job.
Long story short: No money came in. No ads. No sponsorships. Nothing from a fund-raising attempt.
The money I had put into the website was literally down to its last $27 and change this summer when I went on an August vacation to my native Maine to visit family.
There’s a funny story you should know, a tale about how close this second year of The Stratford Sports Scene almost slipped away.
While I was up there, part of the clearing-my-mind thought process was: What to do with the website.
I couldn’t lose money on it—at least nothing more than I originally put in.
Before I left Maine for the six-hour journey back to Stratford, I had made the decision to shut it down.
I drove home and went to bed, ready to wake up the next morning and start a new day.
As part of my morning routine, I checked my e-mail and there it was, not yet read, kind words from Mike LaPia, President of the Stratford High Athletics Boosters club.
In those words, there was hope.
LaPia wrote about what the website meant to the student-athletes of Stratford, both at SHS and BHS.
He wrote that he was working with his booster club board and was in contact with his counterparts over at Bunnell, to come up with a way to donate some money to the site to help out financially and keep it going for another school year.
He had contacts around town, business contacts and other town-based sports entities that he would reach out to garner more support.
I’ll be honest: Without Mike LaPia, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
This fall sports season wouldn’t have been covered if not for LaPia taking the time to e-mail and get multiple balls rolling.
Today, on the one-year date, there are multiple sponsors on the website, and I urge all of you to support them the way they have supported the Stratford Sports Scene.
I’ve gotten a school-year long sponsorship commitment from Select Physical Therapy.
The Stratford Old Timers and Stratford Storm Lacrosse also stepped up with some financial contributions.
And the booster clubs at both school were huge in their efforts to keep things up and running.
And, of course, we’re always looking for more donors, as well, so you know of any businesses looking to support local athletics send them to the website where this information on how become a sponsor.
The Stratford Sports Scene is just scratching the surface of what it could become, what it deserves to be.
Right now, its main goal is to cover every Stratford-vs.-Bunnell showdown, and as many postseason games as possible.
We’re also trying to do feature stories as we hear about them and our “On the Record” interviews with the town’s student-athletes are amongst our most popular features.
I’d like to do season previews on all the teams, too, but some coaches still aren’t quite on board yet and there are communication issues in getting things done in a timely manner.
We also want to do more with youth sports and do some video stuff, maybe a podcast.
Maybe down the road.
I’m happy to still be telling the story of the town’s athletes and while the fall was rough for some of the sports teams around town, winter is coming.
Of course, Thanksgiving comes first and our coverage of Stratford-Bunnell football will be even more than it was a year ago when we started this journey.
This means I end by thanking you, the readers, who come back time and time again.
Without you—players, parents, grandparents, alumni, coaches—this site doesn’t exist.
So spread the word, and do what you can to help the Stratford Sports Scene grow over year two.