Weaver High School

By James A. Johnson © 2019 “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Muhammad Ali Weaver High School in Hartford, Connecticut originally opened on Ridgefield Street in the 1920’s. It is the 1950’s and 1960’s that is the time frame for this story. In 1954 Weaver won the Connecticut Basketball Championship at the New Haven Arena. Ron Harris was the MVP and selected to the All-State team. Frank “Boo” Perry, Frank Keitt, Ron Jefferson, Jack Hartfield along with Henry “Beans” Brown, Jerry Roisman and Bob Pollack were instrumental in the team’s success. 1954 Weaver H. S. Connecticut Championship Team Weaver in 1956 with its All-State player Johnny Egan and Co-Captain John Lee Harrell captured the state championship beating tourney favorite Hillhouse’s “Wonder Five” with superstars Leon Nelson (Colby College), John Woods (Providence College) and Don Perrelli (Southern Conn. State Univ.). Perrilli in 1961 led the nation small colleges in scoring with a 31.5 points per game average and set the Owls single game record of 46 points. The 1956 championship game was against Manchester and their All-Stater Al Cole. Weaver repeats as state champion in 1957 with the starting five of John Egan, John Sullivan, Ted McBride, Russell Carter and Bob Countryman. This team had an undefeated regular season of 17-0 and won the New England Championship at the Boston Garden with a final record of 24-0. John Egan scored a record 36 points in the final game against Lawrence Central Catholic that stands to this day. He was selected to the High School All-America Team by Parade Magazine (McDonald All-America today) and Scholastic Coach Magazine. 1957 Weaver Connecticut & New England Champions L-R Russell Carter, Bob Countryman, Ted McBride, Coach Charlie Horvath, John Egan & John Sullivan. Back Row: Bob Shannon, Jerry Falvey, Bennie Thomas, Stan Goodman, Raleigh Lewis, Dave Bovitz, John Norman & Rick Turner Many followers and supporters of these teams inquired to me, over the years, as a basketball cognoscente, the question as to what are the factors or attributes that contributed to the team’s success. Basketball skill, teamwork and coaching are the obvious and given factors for success. My answer requires another element of individual self-confidence or self-esteem as an important component of success. The following is a short list of the achievements, past and present, by a few Weaver alums and family members that I know personally: Bob Countryman – Supervisor, DEA – U. S. Dept. of Justice. John Egan - President NBA Players Assoc.; John Egan Insurance Planners. Bob Pollack – Entrepreneur – Retail. Ray Jones – Travelers Ins. & Conn Bank & Trust (Computer Programmer & Corp. Officer) and many other accomplishments. Riley Johnson- Professional Photographer – Johnson Studios. James “Bennie” Thomas - Travelers Ins. Co. - Director of Information Systems. Gerald Roisman – Of Counsel, Budlong & Budlong LLC; Conn “Super Lawyer”; Sports Lawyer Assoc & many other accomplishments. Ferne Ware Ridley - International Business Machines (IBM)-Hartford & District of Columbia. Bradley Ware – U. S. Dept. of Justice. Joella Marshall - Hall of Fame Track Coach – HPHS. Rick Turner - Ph.D Stanford Univ.; Dean Univ. of VA., Former President Albemarle- Charlottesville NAACP. Bernie Grant - Linfield College. Johnny Lee- Linfield College. Curtis Manns, Ph.D - Prof. Florida A & M Univ. John Norman- Ph.D., Trinity College Basketball Hall of Fame. Philip Morgan – President, The Insurance Marketing Exchange. Fred Dressler - Entrepreneur - Restaurant Owner. Morton Kahan, MD, Princeton & Harvard Medical School.. SELF-ESTEEM Self–esteem is so important is that it affects practically every facet of one’s life. If you want to be successful, happy and get what you want out of life, you need to have relatively high self-esteem. You need to feel good about yourself. Can you look yourself in the mirror and say, “I really love you” and mean it? Many people are not able to do this. Self –esteem or self-confidence does not guarantee success in life but without it surely promises failure. Self-confidence or self-esteem so essential to every individual has its roots in childhood. Parents, teachers, playmates, and others have an impact on a child’s development. But they are not the only source of developing self-confidence. Participation in sports is a path taken by many. Enter Howie Greenblatt, Class of 1967 at Weaver, 1971 at Trinity College and shortly thereafter earned Masters and Ph.D. degrees at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. HOWARD GREENBLATT Howie Greenblatt was only a role player and fulcrum guard on the 1966 and 1967 Weaver basketball teams. His teammates in those years were stars Rufus Wells, Ben Matthews, Jewett Newkirk & Wayne Jones. In 1967 he remembers playing against Hartford Public High School icons Dwight (Poochie) Tolliver (U. of Rhode Island), Bob Nash (Univ. of Hawaii & NBA), Steve Waterman, (Springfield College), Art Andrews and Jake Edwards. Howie informs me that he developed his basketball skills in pickup games all over the Greater Hartford Area from Keney Park, Love Lane and Bowles Park to the outdoor court at Morley Elementary School in West Hartford. Now Howie is ready for Trinity College and becomes the 2nd leading scorer in school history behind Jim Belfiore. As a senior captain in 1971 he is awarded the Wadlund Trophy as the team’s most valuable player. Howie surpassed such immortals as Charlie Mazurek, John Norman and Barry Leghorn. If a reader is not aware of these players read my article A Tribute to Barry Leghorn on the Bulkeley H. S. Hall of Fame website - 2015 Inductees. Click on the link below and then click on Barry Leghorn & click on Tribute to Barry Leghorn. http://bulkeley.hartfordschools.org/index.php/about-bulkeley/hall-of-fame/class-of-2015 After Trinity College and Brandeis Howie becomes a partner in Better Brands, a regional foodservice distribution company in Wethersfield, CT. until the company was sold in 2000. In 2013 Howie is inducted into The New England Basketball Hall of Fame. Keep in mind that Howie could not have accomplished any of the above without a high level of self-esteem. Obviously, it was developed over time and can be acquired by anyone with discipline, hard work and a passion for the game, subject or goal. There is no secret to success. Success is the residue of preparation meeting opportunity. And, it is almost always in that order. Don’t forget to read Oh, What a Move! Profiles of Hartford Basketball Players from 1954-1984 written by Mike Copeland and Howard Greenblatt. It can be purchased online at Amazon or by contacting Mike Copeland at mikecopesot@comcast.net High IQ’s enable us to get into elite colleges and universities like Howie Greenblatt. A second form of intelligence called emotional intelligence or EQ has more of an impact on success. EQ is the ability to identify and manage our emotions when tension and conflict threaten our composure. If you have a high EQ you are better prepared to stay composed under pressure. Conversely, a high IQ does not necessarily correlate with success. True success is not measured by the number of degrees earned or the amount of money you make. When you measure a person you must take into consideration the roads, valleys, hurdles, and obstacles he or she had to overcome. Success is a journey and not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome. If you have self-esteem you will get great satisfaction in helping others. This should make you happy. Service is the first step to leadership. Effective leadership begins with a person’s values and influences others to act. Research shows that serving others may also be the essence of good health. We are happier, more confident and energized at work when we find purpose and heartfelt service to others. If you do not believe me ask Howie Greenblatt, Bob Countryman, Ferne & Bradley Ware, Joella Marshall and my childhood friends Fred Dressler and Morton Kahan. Keep in mind the words of Muhammad Ali:”Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Take my suggestion on how to be happy: HOW TO BE HAPPY ARE YOU ALMOST DISGUSTED with life, little man? I’ll tell you a wonderful trick That will bring you contentment if anything can, Do something for somebody, quick! Are you awfully tired with play, little girl? Wearied, discouraged, and sick- I’ll tell you the loveliest game in the world, Do something for somebody, quick! Though it rains, like the rain of the flood, little man, And the clouds are forbidding and thick, You can make the sunshine in your soul, little man, Do something for somebody, quick! Though the stars are like brass overhead, little girl, And the walks like a well-heated brick, And our earthly affairs in a terrible whirl, Do something for somebody, quick! Author Unknown About the Author James A. Johnson is a basketball cognoscente. Jim is an accomplished attorney and concentrates on Entertainment & Sports Law, serious Personal Injury, Insurance Coverages and Federal Criminal Defense. He is an active member of the Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas and Federal Court Bars and can be reached at www.JamesAJohnsonEsq.com