WESTON, Conn. – Weston High School senior Charlie DiPasquale can include class president, basketball star and glittering academic performance on his resume. In the last month, he added crisis management to his list of achievements.
DiPasquale was named The Daily Voice Athlete of the Month for Fairfield County. He led the Trojans to the Class M state basketball championship -- the team's fourth time making it that far. More important, he showed poise, leadership and courage after a tumultuous period involving the resignation and rehiring of coach Mike Hvizdo.
“It was like a movie,’’ DiPasquale said with irony, because a movie involving Hvizdo was at the centerpiece of the storm. “It has just been the most fulfilling experience I could ever have been a part of. The best part was being able to represent the town and the school. We had to deal with so much this year, but everyone really got behind us and believed in us.”
Problems surfaced at Weston when Hvizdo resigned Feb. 7 under pressure from school administrators who believed Hvizdo’s appearance in a movie made more than a decade ago compromised his ability as a basketball coach.
Hvizdo reconsidered his verbal resignation, however, and the community turned up the heat on Weston school officials to rehire him. He was rehired after nearly three weeks of turmoil.
While many adults came out of the controversy with sullied reputations, DiPasquale stood out like a beacon, on and off the court. He called for a team meeting the day Hvizdo left.
“I’ve always been eager to step up to leadership positions,’’ DiPasquale said. “When it happened, it was just instinct. I felt like if there was ever a time for leadership, this was it. Kids were confused and sad. As the only senior on the team, I felt I had to be the one to step up.”
In five state tournament games, DiPasquale averaged 25.2 points per game. He scored a career high 31 points in his final home game to beat 26th-seeded Tolland in the second round of the playoffs, drained a three-pointer with under a minute left to give the Trojans the lead over second-seeded Kaynor Tech in the quarterfinals and scored 17 points in the fourth quarter of the semifinals (after playing with foul trouble the whole game) to beat No. 6 Enfield and propel the team to the final.
The whole month seemed like a whirlwind for DiPasquale and the other players. The Trojans fought through an inconsistent season and were just 10-11 after losing in the first round of the South-West Conference playoffs.
But with Hvizdo back at the helm, Weston caught fire in the state playoffs. The Trojans reeled off four straight wins, beating three higher seeds, to reach the final. Despite DiPasquale’s game-high 24 points, the run ended with a 52-45 loss to Valley Regional, a game in which the Trojans led at halftime.
“Whenever I’m on a court, I block out whatever is happening on the outside,’’ DiPasquale said. “When we step on a court, it’s all about playing basketball and we’re in it to win. Later on, during those bus rides home, we all kind of looked at each other, like, this is crazy. We’re winning and everyone in town, people I hadn’t talked to in six or seven years, are calling me up. It was awesome.”
DiPasquale was not alone. Former players Max Molinsky and Lyle Mitchell offered advice on reaching out to the younger players. And all of his teammates, including Asher Lee-Tyson, Ethan Lee-Tyson, Pascal Arvoy, Grant Limone and the rest, played vital roles in Weston’s success down the stretch.
“It wasn’t hard,’’ DiPasquale said. “It’s just the way we are. We have this ability to tune everything out during the games. ... We all had each other, and these guys really came together to send me out on a high note.”
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