BRISTOL - For Francisco Santiago, Friday afternoon at New Britain Legacies was special. In front of his family and friends, he announced his decision to attend Newbury College, where he will continue his playing career on the basketball court.
Adding to it was the young kids that showed up to see Santiago, a standout at Goodwin Tech, announce where he’ll continue his academic career and chase the dreams he’s had for years.
“I spoke to some of these kids today and when they said they look up to Frankie I was amazed,” his dad, Francisco Santiago Sr., said. “I didn’t know he was bringing that much of an impact to the kids and when I heard them say that I was like, ‘wow, he’s a leader and he’s doing what he wants to do. He’s showing these kids there’s a possible chance to do whatever they want to do.’”
Santiago Jr.’s mom was in attendance as well and other significant people in his life, including his teammates and younger siblings.
His mom, Marsha Michaud, is excited for him to go on his new path but it was a bittersweet moment as he’ll be going away to Brookline, Ma.
Frankie’s love for the game of basketball got his mom into the sport and the two bonded over it.
“I did not know about any sports and watching him, I started to enjoy basketball,” Michaud said. “There’s times when we would sit down and watch basketball and I love to go to his games. Just being with him is amazing.”
At Goodwin Tech, Santiago put together a tremendous career. He is the program’s all-time leading scorer and reached 1,000 career points in his junior season. He finished with 1,700 career points.
“I hope I left a strong legacy,” Santiago said of his time with the Gladiators. “I wanted to set an example for the next kids. It’s going to make other kids want to go to that school. When I went there, a lot of people were saying, ‘Why would you go there? They’re not good and nobody ever comes out of there and goes to college.’ Me doing that feels like I set that example. It’s going to help other kids go there.”
For, Santiago Newbury was perfect as he fit what the team wanted.
“The amount of interest he showed and the type of player he was looking for fit me very well,” Santiago said. “It was a hard decision. The fact that they needed a leader was big because I’m a leader.”
Holding the event at New Britain Legacies was important for Santiago because it is where the AFB Freedom AAU team practices.
“Frankie’s been a leader for this program day in and day out,” Santiago’s AAU coach Phil Smith said. “He shows not only his team but the younger kids in the program how to carry themselves as not only basketball players but young men.Each and every day he comes in never makes excuses and dedicates himself to his craft.”
For Santiago, he wants his story to inspire the younger kids and believes having the kids see him attend college is a start.
“Even though New Britain is a great town, there’s still a lot wrong with it,” Santiago said. “I understand what it’s like to be at those dirty parks with bad influences everywhere so just the fact that these kids aren’t out on the streets right now and instead are in this gym watching this means a lot. I hope it inspires them. Even if it’s not to go play a sport just the overall chasing after a dream instead of settling what others may expect them to become.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org